Some would think that a retired infantry officer would be into killing wild game and hanging all those trophy heads on the wall.  Blow away Bambi with an AR15 modified to automatic.  Well, that ain't my shtick.  When I was active Army I fired my share of 45 cal pistols, M16s, 50 cal machine guns, grenade launchers, LAWs (bazookas), and other cool purveyors of death. However, my predilection has always been to let Bambi live so that she and her kind can overpopulate their grazing area and thus die of starvation.

          However, years ago I did want to hang a cow skull on the wall in my man cave, but the wife nixed the attempt.  Seems that when she was a little kid, the furnished rental home her family lived in had a huge moose head just above the bathroom door, and it traumatized my wife for life. So, no animal heads or African tribal masks (inherited from my parents) on the walls, ever.

          Since I couldn't get my cow skull, I thought my options were zero; however, I hadn't counted on the plush or stuffed animal market. Made for little kiddos, many of these fabric creations mimic the real thing on a much smaller scale. So when I came across a plush moose head mounted on a wooden plaque, I asked my wife, with some trepidation, if I could buy one and hang it on the wall of my den. To my great surprise she went along with my request because the fore-said moose wasn't threatening, and in actual fact was kinda cute.

          This purchase set off, over the years, a "hunting" trip for a wide variety of plush creatures found in the American West.  After the moose, I first added Buffalo Billy; then along came Juan the Javelina, mother and daughter coyotes, and Steve the skunk, who says, "What's that smell!" I have since added Mr. Beaver, Rocky Raccoon, Bruce the bat, a gray wolf and kit fox, and Leanna Linx. Also a big horn sheep, Pablo the prairie dog, some turtles, a river otter, a pack rat, and a couple of snakes.

          Not to be restricted to land based critters, I started collecting owls, a bald eagle, and a red-tailed hawk. I went on to snare a variety of birds, such as the morning dove, cactus wren, Arizona quail and a road runner (beep beep). All of these denizens inhabit a desert themed couch and crevices of my inner sanctum.  One of my prized acquisitions is Carlos the coatimundi.  For years I was stymied in my internet search for said coatimundi. Then one day I was in a store for serious hikers (must have taken a wrong turn) and there was Carlos, waiting for me all this time.

          What can be said of a man with a wall dedicated to four generations of military service, who also is obsessed with stuffed animals? Some kind of deep psychological need, unmet in childhood?  An aversion to killing anything that can't defend itself ? (I do not have a grizzly bear in my collection). Maybe I just like being surrounded by my little buddies. Maybe it's another way not to feel so alone in the world. Goodnight Buffalo Billy, goodnight Rocky Raccoon, goodnight...