Captain Kingsley and The Hayseeds

By Bob Robb

Central Kansas, November, 2000-something. I was invited to bowhunt a secret spot for big free-range whitetails by a shady outfitter who turned out to be sleazier than I had initially suspected. But I went anyway because of my friend, Nate Kingsley, who was guiding for the guy at the time.

Captain Kingsley was an ex-marine who, during his time in the sandbox, was a liaison officer with the Delta guys, and who often jumped in the helicopter with them for after-dark rides into the abyss. We met in a hunt camp someplace, and I knew I’d love the guy from the get-go. After that initial hunt we stayed in touch, and one day he told me about the Kansas gig, saying something like, “This place has some fricking giants. You need to come shoot one.” Never one to pass on the prospect of a great hunt, I happily agreed.

After five fruitless days on this Kansas goat rope, Nate and I decided to take a break after a morning stand shift and head into the nearby crossroads gas station/convenience store/pizza parlor to replenish our supplies. On a rutted back road heading to town a tire picked up a nail, and there we were. No way we could change the tire, get it repaired, and be back on stand for the evening shift. Being intelligent guys, we decided it might be a good time to mosey up to the bar at the crossroads honkytonk while the tire got patched. 

The place was what you’d expect, a nowhere dive with dark smoke-stained wood, battered barstools, red leather seats on the booths, an old juke box with nothing but 1950’s country to choose from, a slanted pool table, dim lighting to hide the scars, and a small kitchen catering to the local farm crowd with greasy fried food. In the way of beverages, the place had American beer on tap, and Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, and George Dickel prominently displayed. It was about 2:00, and there were three big farm boys already working the bar over, a handful of empty shot glasses and beer schooners in front of them. 

We bellied up, ordered a couple of cold Buds and a pizza, and were killing time watching some baseball game on the TV when it started. “Never seen you two around here before,” one of the hayseeds said. “Plan on stayin’ long?” Shit, here we go, I thought. I said howdy, we were deer hunters, had a flat, and decided to have a beer and wait for the tire repair. “Damn nonresidents,” another mumbled, “they come here and lease up all the good farms, and now none of us can hunt anymore. You’re lucky we don’t kick your asses back to California, or whatever shithole y’all came from.”

Nate was on my left, the hayseeds five stools down on my right. I glanced at my friend, who from time to time has some real anger management issues. Nate is a pretty big guy, maybe 5-11, 210, at the time still combat fit, has had all the special forces combat training, excelled at it, and knows what a real fight is all about. His shoulders were tensed, his forearms were roped and I thought he might squeeze that Bud bottle in half. “These men have no idea of the hell that is about to be rained down upon them, do they?,” he whispered between clenched teeth. “They do not, Captain,” I said, “but let me see if I might educate them.”

“Boys,” I said as calmly as a guy can with his heart beating like a coked-up hummingbird, “let me introduce ourselves. I’m Bob, and this is Captain Nate Kingsley, a Marine who, not all that long ago, was the Marine Corps liaison with Delta Force over in the sandbox who spent three nights a week jumping out of helicopters with the special forces guys cleaning out raghead hornet nests. He’s got medals, which he doesn’t care all that much about, a couple scars that bother him when it’s cold out, and a really bad case of that PTSD thing that sometimes has him waking up sweating and talking to himself in the middle of the night.

“Now, how about I buy us a round, and y’all come shake Nate’s hand and thank him for making it possible for us all to be sitting here drinking beer in the middle of the day and not having to worry about some shitheads blowing our houses up?”
Silence. Then, to their credit, the hayseeds got up, came over, shook Nate’s hand and said thank you. I bought us a round, we got a six pack to go, and left to pick up the truck. In two weeks, I never did see one of those monster bucks Nate told me about. Last I heard he was working oil fields in Texas someplace, still doesn’t care much about his medals, and still doesn’t take shit from anyone.

From the FE Films Archive

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