Rat Wars

On a Compass Course

By David E. Metcalf

They were kids, they didn’t know better. Putting two kangaroo rats in a box together—what could go wrong? Well, the rats would explain.

For several years in the 1990s, several of us adult leaders took a church group of boys to Bruneau Dunes State Park south of Mountain Home to do a compass course competition, when our sons were involved in such things. The sand dunes include the tallest single such structure in North America, at four hundred and seventy feet, but there’s much more to do there than just climbing up it, or visiting the observatory, or riding horses along the trails.

Every year, we would reserve a spot at the campground and set up our tents. Our sleeping bags, mats, food, coolers, grills, sunscreen, bug spray, and other camping gear made its way out of the vehicles and into position for the three-day, two-night event. One year while setting up camp, I noticed a nest of orioles in one of the trees. They chattered and flew about, displaying their vivid orange, black, and white colors.

The western variety, the Bullock’s oriole, was not a bird I’d seen often in southwestern Idaho. I had spotted them only three or four times over the years, perhaps  because I didn’t look hard enough or because I didn’t live in areas where they were more common. Anyway, it was a treat to see a bird of this beauty and classiness.

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David E. Metcalf

About David E. Metcalf

David E. Metcalf was born and raised near Homedale and has raised a family with wife Darla in southwestern Idaho. The youngest of nine children, David enjoys writing stories about life in Idaho, childhood memories, and other inspirational topics. You can find him at davidsdocs.com and on Facebook.