7 March 2017 – Sunny high of 32° – West wind of 32mph

It is really windy out there today, same as yesterday, and while the sun is shining it makes for quite miserable working conditions outside. We decided to tackle some indoor projects. It was time to get Johnny Cash out of the foyer and up on the wall.

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Johnny Cash in the Foyer

As previously mentioned, Johnny Cash is the name of the elk Dave shot in Rifle a few years ago. We called him Johnny Cash because that elk quickly became a money vacuum, requiring dollar after dollar. We used to joke that the elk burgers probably cost about $20 apiece. That would include the hunting trip, the meat processing, shipping of the meat from Colorado to Florida, and the mount which was taxidermized in Colorado and also shipped to Florida. And then taxidermized again!!!

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Reef in the Field

Now this is not some morbid story about an elk stuffing gone awry, he was definitely dead and skinned and properly prepared and mounted in Colorado. It is a tale worth telling and I hope it will give you a laugh.

We were pretty excited when the taxidermist said he had shipped the elk head to our home in Florida and planned on having a party where we would serve elk burgers and hang Dave’s hunting trophy. Two days before the party, a freight company called and said they had a giant crate for us at the downtown warehouse. They were going to charge $90 to deliver it to our house so Dave thought he would save the $90 and make the short drive to pick it up in his truck. At the freight company’s warehouse, he loaded the very heavy crate in the truck bed and began to drive home. As he drove across the Hwy 90 causeway, just coming into the town of Pace and headed to Milton, he happened to look in his rearview mirror. Right at that moment a gust of wind caught the enormous crate and Dave watched in horror as it lifted up and tumbled out of the bed of his truck. The crate crashed down into the middle of the highway causing angry motorists to swerve and swear at Dave. He pulled over, put on his flashers and ran to the crate, directing traffic around the accident scene until he could wrestle the crate out of the main road. He was able to load it back into the truck, and this time he strapped it down and drove the rest of the way home dreading to see what the elk would look like now.

Later that night, Dave told me the story about the flying elk crate and we were both really counting our blessings that it hadn’t landed on another vehicle. I said, “You’re lucky it didn’t go over the causeway into the bay. What would you have done then?” Dave said, “I would’ve went after it!” Imagine the headlines: “Florida Man Jumps Into Bay to Save Elk Head” accompanied by pictures of Dave swimming and pushing a giant crate through the water. Oh by the way, I have seen an alligator in that water way! Amazing what some people will do for a BUCK! (Forgive me; it was a pun I could not resist. Also, to all you hunters, I KNOW a male elk is a bull, not a buck, but that wouldn’t have worked in the joke!)

When Dave arrived home, he opened the crate. He had been anticipating a broken antler or two and was relieved to see the elk had only suffered a caved in nose. It looked like someone got mad and gave him the old knuckle sandwich right in the kisser.

Other than that, there was really no damage. We had already invited everyone to the elk party and Dave really didn’t want to hang the elk with the punched in nose, so he started calling local taxidermists to see if anyone could do emergency reconstructive cosmetic surgery. He found someone willing to do it and two days later Johnny Cash was successfully hung in the Hoten Household. Of course, the emergency taxidermy cost quite a bit more than the $90 it would have cost to have the crate delivered. Thus the name Johnny Cash, he just kept costing more and more money! We can now include in his expenses the building of a crate to move him to South Dakota.

So today we put him in his final home. As all things with Johnny Cash, it was not so easy.

First, we stacked pallets on the floor and put plywood on top of them. Then we put the ladder on top of the plywood so Dave could get up and drill a hole for the hanger.

Next, we tried to haul the big head up the ladder and realized we weren’t tall enough to get him on the wall. Out to the woodpile to pick up another pallet and restack everything.

Dave heaved him up the ladder and I stood on top of the pallets trying to provide some support for the heavy head while Dave maneuvered him onto the wall.

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Redneck Stepladder Extension

We think he looks pretty good.

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Final Result

And thankfully, Dave didn’t fall off the ladder on top of the pallets and I didn’t get impaled by a falling elk head. Welcome home, Johnny Cash!