Well, here is a little update. As we all know, time waits for no man and continues to march on. I saw Francis today and all those years of chasing mountain lion and bob cat behind a pack of dogs and all the thousands of miles on the back of a mule has taken its toll. He hasn't been riding since the last post and his vision is mostly gone. He actually said today that he is ready to go on and meet his wife in heaven. He has a small collection of old hunting books he wants me to take so I gave him some cash for his pocket and I will go back up Friday morning to pick them up. His eye sight is so bad he can no longer read and watching the TV is a 3'-4' proposition. Still, I love just sitting down and hearing the old stories once again and seeing his face light up when he has a listening ear.
Sam is still working at the arena several days a month and loves to come ride Copper but all the activities that come with being a teenager such as sports and school have taken much of her time. She still has the saddle in her room and comes to visit and ride when she can get a ride over from Salem but unfortunately it is not as often as I wish it were. About the only thing that has not changed is Copper! That sweetheart keeps hauling my skinny butt up and down every hill I point her at and being an ambassador for animals whenever I ride her down town. Talk about a kid magnet!
A brief update on Francis Baker, the older gentleman that is the heart of this thread.
In the past I have shared about my older friend Francis Baker who introduced me to mules by lettings me take his best mule on my first elk hunt into Hells Canyon. While Francis earned his living working in the local saw mill, his passion was horses, mules and his hounds which he used to hunt bobcat and lions with all over the western US. Francis recently had his 93rd birthday and his hunting days and riding days are in the rear view mirror. When I went to visit him the other day he told me his eye sight was so bad he no longer could read and he wanted me to have his collection of old hunting books. I checked with his son before taking the books and with his sons ok, I told Francis I would not take his books for free but I love to buy his books from him. Now you have to realize Francis had signed his pension, social security and property over to his son several years ago thinking his son would take care of him. While he does have a place to live, he is basically isolated to the old farm house with no means of transportation except for his daughter who brings meals nor money to call his own. When I told him I would buy his books he insisted I just take them and I just as stubbornly said I would only take them if I could buy them.
The result of this was me going up and getting a dozen or so books one day last week and Francis suddenly having a little money he could call his own in his pocket. Later that day my doorbell rang and here was Francis with another bag of books that he said he and his daughter had gone through and that he wanted me to have as well. Most of the books are about hunting cats, lions and bears with dogs and includes books on Ben Lily, Dale Lee and other such men. Included in the bag he brought was "The Man Eater of Kumaon" by Jim Corbett which was published in 1946. Corbett was a man who lived in India in the early 1900s and who spent 30 plus years hunting and killing man eating tigers and leopards for the various government agencies and villages in the mountains of India. To say that this was one of the most interesting books I have rad would be a gross understatement. Jim Corbett was encyclopedic in his knowledge of not only man eaters but the jungle flora and fauna of his world and to read his thoughts on being able to track a tiger by the various sounds the other jungle creatures made was fascinating to say the least. The book is old with a faded cover and thin light weight paper pages but at the same time it is a treasure for someone who loves the outdoors and the thrill of the hunt.
Next up, the life and story of Dale Lee, who by the way, Francis knew personally and from whom he got some of his best hounds from. Thank you Francis for a life in the woods spent well and your willingness to see that these old stories are read and passed on.
Thanks for the update. I'm happy that you realize how fortunate you are to know this kindly and generous old gent. Not many of his caliber (no pun intended) left anymore. Carry on Francis Baker. The world is a better place, thanks to you