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An outdoorsman's day off

hen I take a day off, I usually spend it hunting, fishing or doing something outside.

Two weeks ago, I had several days off, out of my element and out of state. I spent several days in Louisiana helping my son recover from surgery and prepare for an upcoming move. I did not have hunting or fishing licenses for the area, and I am not sure any seasons were open if I did. I felt somewhat out of my element.

We pulled into my son's driveway to find everyone in the area gathered at the next-door neighbor's place. The annual neighborhood crawfish boil was well underway. We were welcomed as though we were part of the family and sat down to some really great eating.

I talked Joe, the chef, out of his recipe for crawfish, sausage, corn and potato boil. He felt confident someone from Iowa would not pose a serious threat to a Cajun recipe. I am sure he is right. I can come up with all of the ingredients except the main one, crawfish. We have a real shortage of good eating crawfish in Iowa.

The next day, relaxing in the sun, I noticed an occasional chameleon scampering by. This brought back memories of lazy, sunny days spent in the Dominican Republic with my brother-in-law. These fast little lizards would run around the pool and hang out in the lush vegetation in the area.

He, also being a hunter, taught me how to catch chameleons. There is not much to hunt in the Dominican Republic, so a person does what they have to do. A person must first find a palmetto leaf. These look like a really short palm tree. Strip the center vein out of the leaf leaving a two- to three-foot single strand. The end of this is then tied into a lariat, and a person is ready to rope lizards. He showed me how to rope and catch them, but while sitting by the pool a long way from home, we did not really have a purpose in catching them other than the sheer enjoyment of outwitting a lizard. At my son's place, we had a purpose. I could bring them home to my grandsons, and their father could deal with chameleons.

It did not take long to find a couple of perfect palmetto leaves. My son and I each made lariats and went out to rope a lizard or two. I might add, this is not an activity a person would like to undertake to impress one's boss or a new girlfriend. Two grown men, stalking the wildlife in the orange tree and the gardenia bush look pretty silly.

My wife thought we had completely lost our minds until we came back proudly brandishing a little green chameleon. Before the week was out, after several hours of lizard roping, we had two fine specimens to bring back to the boys.

On the way home, just outside New Orleans, we found a place that sold fresh crawfish. I brought back a 50 pound sack, and no, Joe's recipe is no longer safe. They were almost as good as his.

The chameleons were a big hit with the grandsons. I did notice one problem shortly after arrival. When they lived in the wild, they caught bugs at will. In Iowa, when the temperature is 30 degrees, we have no bugs. I was pleasantly surprised a person can buy bugs in the store if you have a sudden need for them.

There is no need to worry about what an outdoorsman would do on his day off. It is guaranteed, he will find something. It may not be an activity one would tell people they were wanting to impress, but it is great being outdoors.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.