There it was.

On the Sunday morning drive to church the Kansas Woman was her usual quiet self.

She was distractedly gazing out the window, lost in thought until she spun around in her seat to be totally facing the window.

“What was that?”

We are accustomed to road kill and some days count the number of deer, living and not so much, beside the road.

It was a coyote and the first we've seen in years, if ever, east of the Mississippi.

Neighbors passing the afternoon on screened porches describe hearing coyotes “yipping” and spotting something creeping along the edges of their yards.

———

Ike Fenn looked old.

He has the rawboned look of a man who grew old and stiff sitting on a horse.

His white hair was once red, probably. He has freckles. He shuffled around the ramp at the Fort Stockton, Texas Airport.

In a green western shirt, faded jeans, and a cudgeled black hat he looked very much the artifact cowboy, except for his sneakers and lack of twin six-guns.

Stingy with words, he didn't take much notice of two easterners waiting for the aviation fuel pump until I asked about the shotguns.

In 1947 he gave up covering his thousands of wide-spaced acres on horseback and bought an airplane. He could cover more territory looking for cattle in five minutes than all day by horseback. He still uses horses every day.

He showed off his “Super Cub” with two shotguns mounted on either side of the cockpit.

The shotguns are for coyotes.

Ike claims to have invented the contraption with springs and swivel mounts for the shotguns. There is no romance or nostalgia for coyotes here.

I used the word “kigh-OH-tee” out of regional ignorance and he quickly corrected me with a derisive smirk.

“Easterners and city people don't have to deal with them and don't even know how to say their name.” ( West of the Mississippi they are properly known as “chi-YOTS.” )

I asked him how he learned to fly and he spun a tale of being picked by the Army to fly the tiny L-5 Stinson during the Korean War.

The L-5 was a two-place, fabric-covered airplane used for “liaison,” military jargon for just nearly everything.

The low and slow airplane was an easy target but with imagination and tinkering Ike and his friends turned the little L-5 into an aerial platform of Winchester shotguns the enemy dreaded.

After his discharge he returned to the family ranch. One day standing over the remains of a new calf, he recalled the rig on the little Stinson.

“Life got better for the cattle, worse for the coyotes.” With that he hand-spun the prop, the engine fired off and he didn't bother with the runway.

The little Super Cub lifted off from the ramp.

Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at joenphillips@hotmail.com.

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