Petzal: A Tale of True Grits

Back in the 1970s, Grits Gresham transcended the outdoor-writing biz by appearing in a series of Miller Lite beer commercials, such as the one below, with celebrities from other sports. He became recognizable literally around the world.

In October, 1978, I went hunting with him in Botswana, and Grits acquired all sorts of souvenirs which, because many of them were long and sharp, he could not pack. So when we boarded our flight home at Jan Smuts Airport in Johannsesburg, he was carrying two spears, a couple of real, headbusting clubs, and a set of Bushman bows and arrows.

Sitting in a chair at the plane's doorway was a pretty, redheaded South African police officer (female) with a submachine gun in her lap, waiting to hose down anyone who looked like they might make trouble. Her icy blue eyes lit on Grits and his weaponry. I could see her finger tighten on the trigger and her eyes narrow. She was in what Jeff Cooper called Condition Red.

I was just behind Grits, and what took place in her head was literally as fast as thought:

Man with sideburns has weapons. Shoot him? Shoot man behind him with beard? Looks like creep.

Wait. Hat looks familiar. American beer ad. Not shoot. Smile.

She smiled a dazzling smile at Grits and his weapons, and let both of us on the plane unshot.