The Stories We Tell

We asked Field & Stream's writers for the best yarns and jokes to come out of their camps, their fishing buddies' mouths or Mary's Sunrise Cafe. Here's what we got.

Field & Stream Online Editors

Snookered
Rumors of voodoo persist in the caribbean jungles of costa rica, where afternoon shadows were gathering across the steamy riverbanks as our skiff bumped the wooden dock of the old Rio Parismina Lodge. Parrots squawked and howler monkeys roared in the dark canopies across the river. Fernando the guide and I unloaded our tackle and two snook-a 6-pounder and a fine 25-pounder. An old woman stepped forward from a group of villagers. She was haggard, with stringy, oily hair and leathery skin. Her eyes glittered as she pointed with a bony finger to the larger snook.

"She wants your fish," said Fernando, lagging behind.

"Well, so do I-I caught it. Here, she can have the small one." I offered the 6-pounder. The old woman snatched it and backed away, hissing at me as the crowd parted.

Fernando winced. "Machuda," he whispered, with worried eyes. "A witch. She put a curse on you." Late that night, sitting on the screened porch and pouring a toast to the 25-pounder, I mentioned the incident to lodge owner John Kollman, a bearlike man in a tropical shirt, rocking slowly in a leather chair. "Yes, I've heard that some of the villagers think that the old woman is a voodoo witch. Of course, that's absurd.

"As a matter of fact, a while back they said she put a curse on me. They said she put a live chicken in my stomach."

Kollman patted his ample stomach. "A live chicken. Can you believe such nonsense? But, for some reason, now and then-cluck, cluck-my throat does feel a bit scratchy."

He leaned forward and pulled at his beard and gave a great cough, spewing the white chicken feathers he had hidden in his hand across the room.

I dropped my drink and jumped higher than the snook.
-Joe Doggett

Cup o' Snake Dudley is lovable but crazy, so I should have known not to ask him what was in the cup. We were at a South Texas deer camp. Dudley, whom I've known since before his first heart attack, was standing by the refrigerator with a 20-ounce Styrofoam cup in one hand and a Crown Royal in the other.

"See for yourself," he said. I pried off the lid and peeked in and saw a Gordian knot of red, yellow, and black. That old snake ditty came to me: Red then yellow kills a fellow.

"That's a coral snake, Dudley."

"Uh-huh," said Dudley.

I shook the cup to look for its head, which was buried somewhere. "Mind if I dump it on the floor so I can get a good look at it?" I asked.

"Nope. Go ahead," said Dudley, calm as could be. But then, why wouldn't he be?

I dumped the snake on the floor, grabbed its tail, and stretched it out. It was over 2 feet long. "Damn, but that's a pretty snake," I said to the crowd that had gathered around. And that's when the snake's tongue shot out.

"Dudley, this snake's still alive!" I shouted, causing the crowd to jump up on anything more than 2 feet off the ground.

"Course it's alive," said Dudley, as if it's perfectly normal to carry a large specimen of the deadliest snake in North America around in a Styrofoam cup and permit a dumb Yankee to play with it.

Dudley rounded up the snake with his boot, slipped on a pair of gloves, and popped the snake back in the cup. I grabbed it and put it in the freezer. Overnight. "Dudley," I said, "if you ever do that to me again, I won't come to your third heart attack. And by the way...you've just been to my first."
-Lionel Atwill

Maybe You should Try Golf
Years ago while we were hunting turkeys, my friend Paulie and I ran into a couple other young hunters who said they weren't having any luck because of a dog barking in the woods behind them. Then a bird gobbled clear as a bell down the ridge, and they said, "Damn thing's been barking his head off like that for an hour."

That "dog" ended up being my first turkey. Even when we showedhem the bird, they still didn't get it: "Wow, I can't believe that dog back there didn't spook your turkey."
-Dave Hurteau

Great Filling, Less Taste
My brother, a flying doctor in Montana, emerged from a cloud of prop-wash dust on a gravel strip far out in the Oregon desert. Retired infantry colonel Tony Robnett and I met Gene's plane, helped him tie it down, unloaded his duffel and flyfishing gear, and tossed it into the back of Tony's pickup truck with all our own.

After three hot hours spent pounding dirt roads, we arrived at a remote smallmouth stream, spent another hour sweating up a camp alongside it, and finished just at sunset. We sat back in lawn chairs and looked out over the water. Tony, in charge of provisions, opened the cooler and pulled out three cold, dripping cans of inexpensive beer.

Gene took his, scowled at the label, and said, "I sent some of this off to the lab once. They sent it back-said my horse had hepatitis." Then he drank it, glad to get it.
-Dave Hughes

Gives Me Fever
I was out with a mild-mannered accountant friend on his first day of hunting. Soon after sunrise, a shot rang out from the direction of his tree stand. I hiked over to investigate and, sure enough, spied him on the ground 50 yards from his stand. But instead of tagging a deer, he was stumbling aimlessly around in the brush, and in his outstretched arms he carried only a bowie knife of the size and type that only first-time hunters think they need.

"Hey, Kevin," I yelled. "You get him?" No response.

I walked a little closer and called out a second time. Again, no response. I closed the distance some more but still got no answer. Finally, when I was only a few steps away, Kevin turned and gave me such a wild-eyed look that I reflexively checked to make sure I had a round in my chamber.

"Big buck...sh-shot...g-g-gun jammed," he stammered, racked with buck fever. Then spreading his arms above his head, the knife flashing in the sun, he said the words that have described every big buck in camp ever since: "Antlers like THIS!"
-Lawrence Pyne

** All That Glitters¿¿¿**
I was in salmon camp with five serious fishermen, waiting for one more angler to arrive before we started fishing. He finally came in on a chartered floatplane and opened the door to wave to us as it stopped at the dock. Then he ducked back inside and out stepped a blonde.

She was dazzling. Gorgeous. Leggy. Hair the color of butterfly wings in the sun. She wore a little green chenille hat with peacock and toucan feathers. Her sweater was cashmere wool in an unusual ginger color. Her waist was cinched by a multihued silk sash. Around her neck were chains of golden beads. She wore the shortest of shorts, to which she'd added a fringe of sparkling mylar tinsel. Her ankles were encircled with tiny beads the color of salmon eggs, and on her feet were the sweetest little pair of sandals decorated with dyed porcupine quills.

The fishermen in the cabin slumped and stared, all thoughts of fishing gone like smoke up a chimney.

"Will ya look at that?" one said.

"Ooooh," another breathed lustily.

The blonde bounced into the cabin, all smiles, and kissed each man, lifting her eyebrows and winking. Drinks were poured. The men clumped together, drank deeply, and leered. Finally, one sidled up to the guy who'd brought her.

"We were gonna fish," he whispered. "What the hell did you bring her for?"

"Fly-tying material," the man replied.
-Jerome B. Robinson

You Want Fries With Those Eyes?
The group of farmers i used to hunt with sure knew how to butcher meat. In the course of an evening they'd reduce all the deer hanging in our shed to a row of cardboard boxes full of neat, white packages, one box for each member of the party. There was always a cooler of Mountain Dew in the corner and a gas grill outside to cook up bites of backstrap.

During one of these sessions, one of the farmers, Lonny, arrived late and staggered through the shed door far too drunk to be of any use.

"Don't worry about it. We'll cut up your share for you," the others told him, taking the sharp implements out of his hands and steering him toward a folding chair.

Lonny awoke when it was time to go, embarrassed by his behavior. He noticed his box of venison was a little fuller than the rest. If he'd looked carefully, he'd have found the difference was a large, curiously lumpy package labeled leg roast.

"I've got more than everyone else," he protested.

"It's okay. You deserve it," they said, ushering him out.

One day in the winter Lonny's wife must have gone down to the freezer and fetched a package of venison. She would have unwrapped the paper, revealing a mass of intestines, ears, tails, teeth-even a nose-topped with whitetail eyes goggling at her from the top of the heap. Farm wives see their share of blood and guts, but she probably screamed anyway. No one knew for sure, because Lonny never said a word about it. But he never came to deer butchering drunk again, either.
-Philip Bourjaily

-Bob Brister

The Peg-Leg Pig
Driving through Cajun country, a Texan noticed a pig with a peg leg walking around a farmer's yard. Curious, he stopped to inquire about the pig's handicap.

"Oh, Mon, dat's a goood peeg," the Cajun said. "Let me tell you 'bout dat peeg." And the Cajun began relating stories about how the pig saved his child from always a cooler of Mountain Dew in the corner and a gas grill outside to cook up bites of backstrap.

During one of these sessions, one of the farmers, Lonny, arrived late and staggered through the shed door far too drunk to be of any use.

"Don't worry about it. We'll cut up your share for you," the others told him, taking the sharp implements out of his hands and steering him toward a folding chair.

Lonny awoke when it was time to go, embarrassed by his behavior. He noticed his box of venison was a little fuller than the rest. If he'd looked carefully, he'd have found the difference was a large, curiously lumpy package labeled leg roast.

"I've got more than everyone else," he protested.

"It's okay. You deserve it," they said, ushering him out.

One day in the winter Lonny's wife must have gone down to the freezer and fetched a package of venison. She would have unwrapped the paper, revealing a mass of intestines, ears, tails, teeth-even a nose-topped with whitetail eyes goggling at her from the top of the heap. Farm wives see their share of blood and guts, but she probably screamed anyway. No one knew for sure, because Lonny never said a word about it. But he never came to deer butchering drunk again, either.
-Philip Bourjaily

-Bob Brister

The Peg-Leg Pig
Driving through Cajun country, a Texan noticed a pig with a peg leg walking around a farmer's yard. Curious, he stopped to inquire about the pig's handicap.

"Oh, Mon, dat's a goood peeg," the Cajun said. "Let me tell you 'bout dat peeg." And the Cajun began relating stories about how the pig saved his child from a