The most unforgettable character I’ve knownRecalled the other day something I’d read about unforgettable characters, the authors had known. Got me to thinking: What about me? I remembered quite a few unforgettable people, but only one really did stand out.
By: Bernie Hughes, Superior Telegram
Recalled the other day something I’d read about unforgettable characters, the authors had known. Got me to thinking: What about me? I remembered quite a few unforgettable people, but only one really did stand out.
No doubt about it — Prairie Dog Myers had to be No. 1 and that was a long time ago, 1953. I was a first-year school superintendent in central Montana. The school district office was in a small town, Grass Range, 31 miles east of Lewistown, which is the geographical center of Montana.
Prairie Dog was a name given this gnarled old gentleman because he survived the Great Depression in barren surroundings by snaring prairie dogs. For those of you who haven’t seen prairie dogs in their native surroundings, they have a watchdog whose duty it is to see if danger is near. The other dogs come out and search for food, unworried until the watchdog gives the alarm and then all retreat quickly into their holes.
Prairie Dog had scouted their digs and arranged a snare around a hole so when one would come up to look about, he’d pull the rope and snare them. He always had fresh meat during those depressing years. He had earned his nickname, Prairie Dog.
I was first introduced to Prairie Dog at Orvin Clark’s grocery. He came in once a month to stock up on supplies. He lived near the Little Belt Mountain Range southwest of Grass Range. His reputation was awesome. Tales of his prowess in the preceding years were many.
Turned out that one of them happened during our short time in central Montana. He often stopped for a quick snort at a popular pub in Grass Range. Somehow, the subject of catching a wildcat, keeping it alive and walking it through the bar was a challenging bet that Prairie Dog couldn’t pass up. He didn’t hesitate to accept, only long enough to raise the ante of the bet. He did it and wanted me to know he did it. The problem was I wasn’t home when he brought the cat by. The picture below shows the cat when he showed it to Jean, my wife, quite a bit after the furor had died down. How did Prairie Dog accomplish that feat and did he collect on his bet?
He knows where all the animals in the outback were. He set a trap for the bobcat pictured and smothered it with wet gunny sacks until he had it trussed up immobile. He then put a collar on it and a chain and a straight piece of narrow metal bar to keep it sufficient distance away as he walked it through the bar to collect that bet. But the next day when he was to perform the feat, he went to the cage to get the cat; it was dead.
Prairie Dog knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, and kept explaining to anyone interested that some of those cheap skates at the bar had killed the cat to save their share of the substantial bet. The bar crew’s explanation of the dead cat was that it had died from fear and manhandling by that wild man of the wilderness, Prairie Dog Myers.
My guess as to what happened to the cat was that it had been done in by the bar crew. Prairie Dog, once again, was never really beaten fair and square.