Sometimes it’s good to leave ‘important things’ alone

“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.” ­— Henry David Thoreau

I was AWOL last week. Apparently there was another debate. And a football game of some import. 

I’m not sorry I missed ‘em.

Hearing another round of talking points from President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney, even a come-from-behind conference win by Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, pale in comparison to spending five days in hunting camp with three generations of Spehars and extended family.

The satellite phone that occupies too much of my sister-in-law’s time when she’s up at her ranch went unused by me. My infuriating iPhone 4, with its weak-link antenna, proved typically useless at the one spot on the upper ground where others spent time connecting with the world below 10,000 feet. My only success was a quick check-in with my brother at his separate hunting location in another part of Gunnison County. 

(Regardless of location, Summit Park or Paradise Hills, the damned iPhone is proving to be more useful as an expensive jukebox than a communication device, both entertaining and infuriating regardless of its genesis in one of the most creative minds in history and service provided by one of the most storied names in telecommunications.)

AT&T and Apple were not the only ones playing tricks. 

Mother Nature was too when yours truly, the only one without a license, spotted the lone bull elk any of us saw sneaking through leafless quakies above the open parks where the shooters waited patiently late one evening.

Just a couple of hours after our son, the only one with a cow permit, left to make his flight back to Indiana there were seven or eight of his potential targets peacefully grazing within sight of the cabin and three cows and a calf sprinted up a hill ahead of us as we left camp later that day.

I begrudged a week of not contemplating the things Jay Seaton pays me to write about just about as much as my critics missed my weekly column last Tuesday. I even absented myself and sacked out early the one evening when second generation hunters drifted into a politically-tinged economics discussion. 

More important to me was that Bonnie returned to the roots of her own hunting family on opening morning, using one of the landowner permits to obtain her first elk license and carrying one of Tony’s guns as she accompanied her son through the trees. Heck, despite her mostly red meat-free diet, she actually vowed to pull the trigger if a bull was close enough.

Regretfully, that resolve went untested but the sight of her trudging off with the lever-action Browning over her shoulder was itself worth the trip.

That and the fact that the normally clean and shiny restored Land Cruiser finally returned to its own roots and ended up caked with mud and sporting a few “Colorado pinstripes” in its first successful test of a finally-revamped four-wheel-drive system. 

It didn’t take long for the real world to click back in.

Checking emails as we approached Gunnison Wednesday evening brought me back to the issues of public lands and energy development that sometimes threaten the outdoors I’d just enjoyed. It’s something that Club 20, the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, the industry-financed Environmentally Conscious Consumers for Oil Shale and Garfield County commissioners apparently don’t think about enough.

Reviewing The Daily Sentinels that accumulated during our absence, including accounts of the second presidential debate, I was reminded of the comment by one of my favorite politicians, onetime presidential candidate Mo Udall: “Everything has been said but not everyone has said it yet.”

Predictably, Bill Grant told us why Sal Pace should replace Scott Tipton and Josh Penry counseled readers about supposed failures of the Obama administration’s last four years.

It finally struck me that the ultimate irony will come during my own hunting season in a few weeks — one that will again find me potentially incommunicado at 10,000 feet between Gunnison and Lake City on Election Day.

I wonder if I’ll try again to outwit my recalcitrant iPhone, break out Susan’s satellite phone or just wait until the end of that week to know whether it’s President Romney or President Obama for the next four years. 

That answer is as elusive today as the elk proved to be last week.


Jim Spehar is thankful Secretary of State Scott Gessler considers him still eligible for a mail ballot.  Your thoughts are welcome at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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