The Boss Bass

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Intimidated by a bass? We’re talking about Bud, an Oregon logger. A guy that straps on cork boots, throws a 32-inch Stihl over his shoulder, heads up mountains–that would give Lindsey Vonn pause–and falls giant firs to make a living.

Intimidated by a three pound bass? Really?

One of Bud’s responsibilities is five cows and their 500 gallon water tank. A float keeps the water level consistent. Mosquitos discover the pond and lay eggs. Hundreds of larvae are soon flitting around the tank.

Bud comes up with a solution, fish to eat the larvae. He sneaks into a neighborhood pond and commanders a couple of small bluegill.

Too many larvae for two puny bluegill. He needs more fish power. Back to the pond. Lucky catch. A three pound bass. Larvae soon disappear.

Bud is feeling pretty good about solving the tank problem. He comes out one morning and the half-eaten body of a bluegill is floating on the surface. Two days later, same with the other one. Boss Bass is eating the bluegill.

A few days later, a rain storm flushes a starling nest down the rain gutter into the tank.

This has happened before. Bud usually dips out the debris with his hands.

On the second dip something grabs his finger, jerks his hand down all the way to the elbow. His shriek of pain brings Lucy, the dog barking in fear.

Bud’s mangled finger is bleeding. The bass chewed up a work-hardened finger. Bud thinks it has to be a freak incident. Another bleeding finger.

Hunger. The bass must be hungry with the larvae gone. Feed the bass. Bud sifts through the compost pile and comes up with a dozen fat nightcrawlers. Night crawlers are snapped up as fast as they are dangled in the water.

Boss Bass has to be full. Finger three is now bleeding. Over the next few days Coy, Bud’s significant other, is amused as she watches her tough, logger guy approach the tank cautiously, dangle a crawler in the water, then jump back. He admits, he is totally intimidated by a three pound bass, confined in a steel tank.

It’s one of those days when the stars and planets are aligned. Bud and Coy have garden work to do. Bud shovels compost into the wheelbarrow, systematically selecting fat crawlers for Boss Bass.

Coy carefully wheels the compost past the water tank, weaving her way through cow pies deposited by cows coming for a drink.

Old bossy–right out of a Chick-fil-A commercial–comes for a drink, just as she does ever day at this time.

She lowers her muzzle into the cool water, licking her lips in anticipation.

Suddenly, she rears up on her haunches, lets out a bellow that would make a raging bull proud. Boss Bass has latched onto her tongue.

Now, it gets exciting. She does a half flip, with a minus one rating, launching Boss Bass ten feet in the air.  Nine hundred pounds of bovine comes crashing down on the nose of the wheelbarrow creating a fulcrum, catapulting Coy–and load of compost–into the air.

Bud is in awe of the scene before him. Does he rush to Coy’s aide, or save Boss Bass? Boss Bass is flopping wildly down the slope, barn cat Tommy, in hot pursuit. Coy has landed in a fresh cow pie, covered with two inches of thick, black compost, a couple of night crawlers dangling from her hair, describing Old Bossy’s ancestors at a pitch beyond the threshold of pain.

It isn’t as bad as he thought it would be, sleeping by himself out here in the old rusty camper behind the barn. Tommy, the barn cat, can be pretty good company. He seems to enjoy watching Bud jump when he eases a nightcrawler into the tank.

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