From The Vault: Poacher’s Lament
Eds. Note: A Grand County resident and long-time reader of the Middle Park Times submitted the following poem for publication. According to the reader, another Grand County resident wrote “Poacher’s lament” after he was caught taking a mule deer out of season in the summer of 1948. The man penned the humorous and cautionary verses in the Grand County Jail, and they were later published in the Middle Park Times. Following a positive response from the public to his first work, the author published a sequel that was written after his release from jail.
Poacher’s lament: Crime never pays
Here I sit in the Grand County jail
For breaking the Game Law I’m held without bail.
Now this is my story, and please don’t repeat
Just how I acquired the unlawful meat.
I’ve always admired a fat mule-eared beast
When killed, and dressed proper, they make a swell feast.
When most of the neighbors drove away in a car
To meet at the Town Hall and hold a bazaar
It must have been Satan who whispered in my ear
and said “it would be a swell night to go shoot a deer.”
So away I starts out, when hunting is best.
When the long evening shadows creep down from the West.
I headed straight West, right up to the Gore
Where I’d seen lots of deer, and I knew there were more.
After reaching a spot I thought was the best
I sat down on a rock to take a rest.
My eyes swept the hill where the quakers* grow tall
And you can see through the branches later on in the fall.
And out from those trees stepped a nice fat, red buck
And I said to myself “Old Timer, here’s luck.”
I was shaking a little, and you know the reason.
I knew in my heart I shouldn’t hunt out of season.
I looked through the sights of the old 33
and pulled back the hammer, and the buck looked at me.
I squeezed off the trigger and heard it go whack
And there was the buck right down on his back.
I dressed him out quick, cut off his head and feet
And thinks to myself, there’s a fine piece of meat.
The fun was all over and the rest was no lark
I packed that buck home on my back after dark.
And there was old Satan still out on his beat
And surely was watching when I hung up that meat.
I may be mistaken, but some watching eye saw
and guessed what was cooking, and squawked to the Law.
And the Law’s got me and I’ll stay 60 days
And when I get out I’ll sure mend my ways.
I’ll save up my money and quit buying beers
And maybe my family can eat white-faced steers.
And this is my verdict, if I may use the old phrase
“To always go straight,” for “Crime never pays.”
I’m still locked up in this house of correction
And I’m getting so restless and pale in complexion.
I’m paying my fine at two bucks per day
But take it from me boys, that’s the hard way.
There’s nothing to do, but sit here and worry
And wait for a call from Chester McQueary**.
He comes to this Jail House two times every day
With food from ”Lon’s Place” across the highway.
The food is delicious, and for most folks quite ample
But for a hungry old poacher it’s just a mere sample.
But the County just allows one dollar per day
For feeding her prisoners, who come here to stay.
So I’ll take what I get and there’s no use to holler
You can’t buy much food these days for a dollar.
Well if I was home my meals would be frugal
As long as I live next door to ______________,
And now comes a pause in my meditation
I hear someone coming and I bet its my relation.
I heard that lock rattle when they inserted the key
And in walked a lad I was sure glad to see.
He stuck his hand out right thru those steel bars
And he gave me a handshake that would heal your heart scars.
He’s a true friend in need, and a PAL that don’t fail
And I knew I’d soon leave this Grand County Jail.
He paid off my fine and also the costs
And they allowed me eight bucks for six days that I lost.
And now I am home among familiar faces
And once more a free man in our great open spaces.
*An antiquated term for aspen trees
**Former Grand County Sheriff
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Grand Lake is still standing one year after the East Troublesome Fire, and the town celebrated the people who helped make that happen on Saturday.