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My first wife came from a ranching family way back up in the hills of central California and had a cousin, Ted, who was a hounddog man. This made him akin to Evel Knievel with a pack of pooches.

I talked my way into hunting with him, of course.

All went well until we were on the way home, when a badger ran across the road and dove into a large culvert pipe.

"Oh wow!" Ted yelled. "Let's get him!"

He released most of the hounds and they plugged the culvert pipe with bawling insults. In the dead center of the pipe was a snarling badger.

"Gotta smoke him outta there," Ted said, scratching his head as if in thought. I'd read about smoking things out. Davy Crockett, bears, that sort of thing, so I was eager to learn. Ted lit a cigar and handed it to me.

"Now crawl in there and smoke that sucker out," he said.
"You sure?"

"How many badgers you hunted?"

So I crawled into the pipe with the cigar in my mouth, puffing away and coughing, and the badger actually backed up a few steps.

Then Ted released his old dog from the car. He screamed into the other end of the pipe and grabbed that badger in the butt. All I could see were teeth and fur coming my way.

Using the cigar as an afterburner on my rocket-assisted retreat, I shot backwards out of the pipe and some 20 yards into the brush.

The next day I ran into two old ranchers who looked at me kinda funny and then asked if I was the guy who tried to smoke out a badger with a cigar. The laughter hurt.

My wife told me that, since I was now a bonafide member of the family, I could go hunting with Ted all the time.

After the divorce...

Brought to you by Slim's new book and great stocking stuffer "A Cowboy's Guide to Growing Up Right." Learn more at http://www.nmsantos.com/Slim/Slim.html.

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