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Predestined Compulsion

WHEN RANCHERS IN CATRON COUNTY, New Mexico, lost livestock due to predators, they made a phone call, and old Bill Blue, government trapper, was dispatched to take care of the felonious varmints. Bill was a twentieth-century mountain man who had never seen the movie Bambi, so he lost no sleep over his controversial role in maintaining the balance of predator and prey.

Bill had a couple of nasty dogs who helped him bring murdering coyotes and mountain lions to justice. Butch was from of some indeterminate hound stock, one ear nearly gone from a long-ago brawl. It was fitting that this dog had a government job; he was surly and had a general disdain for all living creatures.

Bill called his other mutt Princess. Crusty old trappers don't usually give dogs, even girl dogs, such prissy names. True, she had a better personality than Butch, but she was evidently the kind of princess from days of yore when royalty bathed on a biannual basis.

One day I saw Bill parking his old Chevy Apache pickup at ...

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