Last week, Hick got a call from HOS (Hick's Oldest Son). They've both been busy with their own lives lately, and haven't been in communication. I only have Hick's side of the tale.
"HOS called me and asked if I still collect things. Well, yeah. He said he knew a lady that had a black panther for sale. In a glass case."
"WHAT? Where would she get that? I don't think you're supposed to have that stuff. It's an exotic animal."
"Apparently, it belonged to her father-in-law, and he died, and she's trying to sell off some stuff. I want you to look up and see if it's legal to own in Missouri."
"Because I have all the time in the world, and you don't have a phone with unlimited data..."
"I TRIED to look it up on my phone, Val, but I couldn't find anything."
"Here. I'll do it right now, while I've still got my laptop on."
Huh. It's really hard to find that information. I couldn't find anything definite. Just a little on the Missouri Department of Conservation website.
"Was it roadkill? Did somebody shoot it? Did that guy buy it? Who stuffed it? The main thing here looks like you need a letter saying it's legal to own. But that depends on how it was killed, and where."
"I had one of my buddies looking, too, and he found that same thing you have there. I don't know if she has a letter. I'm supposed to go look at it this afternoon."
"You're going to her HOUSE?"
"How else am I going to look at it?"
"You're not going to BUY it, are you? What would you do with something like that?"
"I'd put it up at my locker! And probably sell it."
"That's all you need, an illegal stuffed exotic animal at your Storage Unit Store. Where somebody will see it, and report you!"
"It may not be illegal!"
"Don't buy it! You're not going to buy it today, are you? How much is it?"
"Not today. I have to look at it. And find out if it's legal. HOS says she wants two for it. That's cheap! I know I could sell it for more than that! Maybe I'll call the game warden. He should know the laws about exotic animals."
"Yes! That's the best idea. If anyone could tell you Missouri's laws on exotic animals, it should be the game warden."
So off went Hick, to see a black panther in a glass case. When he came home, he showed me a picture that he took with his phone. Not a very good picture, but we'll get to that lower in the page.
"I went in there and seen it. She had all kinds of stuff like that! She didn't have a letter for the panther. The guy's wife is an old lady, and she didn't know anything about any paperwork for it. But she said he used to hunt a lot. He bought this one though. It's been studied, and it's from South America."
"Then you'll definitely need a letter! What did the game warden say?"
"I didn't talk to the game warden. This panther must be okay, because otherwise, how could the guy have brought it into the country? He must have a letter somewhere."
"That is NOT a picture of a black panther. A panther doesn't have spots like that!"
"She said the name of it, but I can't remember. I think some panthers have spots."
"Is it a jaguar? Or a civet cat? A leopard? I don't know what their spots look like, or where they live, but those are the only big spotted cats I can think of right now."
"I don't remember what kind she said. Anyway, I said, 'So how much do you want for it?' Even though HOS told me she wanted two, I figured I should hear it from her. That glass case it's in is one-inch-thick plate glass. I knew I could get more than two hundred just by selling the glass."
"That would be stupid, to buy a black panther with spots in a glass case, and then sell the case for the glass."
"I don't think I'll be buying it. When I asked the price, she said, 'Two THOUSAND!' I had no idea she's want THAT much! I thought HOS meant two HUNDRED! This lady said the guy had paid five thousand for it way back when he got it. I need to tell my one friend up in Iowa, who built that house with the fancy carved staircase. This is just the kind of thing that would interest him."
Yes. Hick still collects things. But not a two-thousand-dollar, (non-black) black panther, with spots, in a glass case.
As with most things Hick, the end result is often quite different from the original concept.