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Kirby: BLM weighs in on bowling ball cannon blasts

Published April 21, 2014 1:09 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I try not to lend my support to causes, even good ones. Bitter experience has taught me that there's no cause or organized purpose so important that it needs the help of yet another imbecile.

But occasionally I'm forced into a cause through no fault of my own. This particular cause is the Sagebrush Rebellion.

Until last week, I thought the Sagebrush Rebellion was a guerilla operation conducted by a radical species of desert plant attempting to throw off the shackles of oppression through suicide sneezing.

It's not. Artemisia tridentata is the Latin name for sagebrush. I didn't know that either. I looked it up on the Internet, which immediately gave me the option of clicking on "sagebrush" or "Italian porn star."

Eight hours later I understood that the Sagebrush Rebellion is in fact a concerted effort by Western ranchers to shoot at federal workers over something patriotic. It's complicated.

My understanding increased a hundredfold when a SWAT team from the Bureau of Land Management raided my home on Monday. With a jackboot on my neck, they accused me of supplying heavy weapons to the Sagebrush Rebellion.

BLM guy: "Do you deny that, Mr. Kirby?"

Me: "You got the wrong guy. My name is Art Tridentata."

This column would be a lot more interesting if any part of that incident were true. What actually happened is a lot less exciting.

A nice woman from the BLM called and violated my rights by asking if I had killed anyone or anything with a bowling ball.

Permitted to contact an attorney, I would have only said through him, "Not recently." However, denied legal counsel, the best I could come up with at the time was, "Umm..."

After the initial confusion (all of it mine) the BLM woman said the agency was simply addressing public concerns about a recent column that had me scaring some cows with a bowling ball cannon.

For the record, it was Sonny's idea. I tried to stop him but it was too late. The cannon had gone off and the cows were already badly frightened. They were last observed in a high-speed turn around the corner of a mountain toward Nevada.

The BLM lady said we hadn't done anything illegal, but cautioned us to shoot our cannons in such a manner that we didn't hit — intentionally or otherwise — someone else using public land.

Finally, it was suggested we might perhaps clean up after ourselves. Surely even a newspaper columnist understood that it's ecologically unsound to leave bowling balls in the desert.

I agreed. A half buried bowling ball loitering in the shade of some sagebrush can easily be mistaken by a passing desert tortoise as a possible date.

There's no worry about us abandoning bowling balls in the desert. They're hard to come by. Not only are they nearly impossible to shoplift, most gun stores don't even sell them. So we never just leave them in the desert or on someone's roof.

The good news is that we're not the only ones shooting bowling balls. The last time we shot, we took 10 bowling balls and came home with 12.

We killed a lot of sagebrush, though, so I wouldn't worry too much about the rebellion.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.