Guide Tracks in the Sand - A Tale of the Border Patrol (Tales of the Border Patrol Book 1)

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Thomas Reavey Jr.

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Catalogs, manuals, and handbooks: 1. Speech: 1. Collegiate writing, news: 1. Novels for adult readers: 1. Joanne S. Bodin, Mercury Heartlink, Orchid of the Night ; 3. Books, history: 1. Books, travel: 1. General nonfiction: 1. Dede Feldman, Dede Feldman Co. Turtle Wants To Know ; 3. Short story: 2. Rita A. I waited for it to cross the road, then proceeded. Soon I was back on roads I had already driven. More and more, large tire tracks were appearing, clearly not mine.

Others were driving the roads. It seemed an odd time for anyone to be out. Then I saw a six-foot diamondback rattlesnake writhing in the road. It was just run over, leaving it with a crushed spine and internal organs sprawled out over the mud. It was dying, so I carefully put it in a bucket, then into the back of my truck. It would make for a fine teaching specimen demonstrating the anatomy of a venomous snake once the skull was cleaned and the skin tanned.

As the evening wore on, black-tailed jackrabbits continued to run in front of me.

Still nothing with white sides. More large tire tracks appeared on every road. Suddenly something glowing white was lying in the road. It was a mammal. I hit the brakes and jumped out while the truck was still sliding to a halt. Slipping and falling on the muddy road, I ran sure it was a white-sided jack. When I got to it I was both disappointed and relieved. It was a kit fox that had just been hit. Its whitish-yellow belly glowed in my lights. It will be a tremendous teaching specimen; the study skin demonstrating the huge ears of a desert-adapted mammal, and the skull that of our smallest North American canid.

Exhaustion got the best of me. After seeing over forty black-tailed jacks and over fifty desert cottontails, I needed some sleep to resume the search in the morning. I made the slow climb back up to the pass. It was two in the morning. In the summer, processing fresh road kill must be done soon before decomposition begins. Sleep had to wait.

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Geronimo’s Pass

I set up my field lab by flipping down the tailgate as a bench; turning over the plastic bucket provided a stool. I set out my skinning tray with scalpel blades, scissors, and forceps.

Border Patrol agent tracks suspect's footprints

I placed a hefty pile of cornmeal on a tray to soak up blood and fluids. I laid out my meter stick and notebook. With a bright headlamp centered on my forehead, I began making notes—date and location found, sex and weight, body and tail length, and, for the fox, length of hind foot and ear. The data tags I filled out would be attached to skins and skulls.

Rome’s border walls were the beginning of its end.

I have skinned hundreds of animals in my life and have become very fast. Before long, a pile of fur sat on the tailgate next to a pile of scales. Two skinless heads sat next to these, and a couple of carcasses were piled on the ground. The vultures would be most pleased in the morning. Arms smeared with reptile and mammal blood, I was sealing the two skins in plastic bags, ready to place them on ice, when my concentration was broken. I could hear vehicles coming up the trail from Clanton Draw. They sounded big and they were moving fast.

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