The Magic Hat

Baseball caps? Fedoras?

Ha!! It is to laugh!

There's only one hat suitable for a real man to wear, and that's the cowboy hat. I know, because I have one. And it's magic.

I don't know if it has always been magic, or if it became magic after I'd had it for some time, but it's certainly magic now.

Unpretentious. That's a good word, and fits the hat...well, like a glove. It's a plain brown Bailey, I think, probably about an XXX, with a flat 4-plait sueded band. Nothing fancy, just a run of the mill, garden variety magic hat. I say I think it's a Bailey because all distinguishing marks have long since faded from the sweat band. The liner is stained and coming loose, the hatband is slightly separated, the felt is spotted with many stains. Stains of fish slime, raindrops, sweat, campfire ashes, horse slobber, fly floatant, black powder residue and the blood of many creatures large and small.

When I bought the hat about fifteen years ago, I did so just to have a hat to keep the sun and rain off my noggin while working on my farm, doing everything from herding cattle to putting in fence. It served admirably in that capacity, and put in several years of honest, unstinting duty. I really liked to trail ride, all dressed up in my hat, leather chaps and canvas brushpopper jacket. I think it was while doing that that I fell under the spell of the hat. I had so much fun, and the hat served so well, that I started wearing it everywhere, no matter what I was doing.

Of course, it's perfect for fishing in. It shades my eyes, keeps the sun and rain off my head, protects my ears from errant hooks, keeps my head warm and a variety of other practical things. Most importantly, though, it makes me catch fish. Lots of fish. Big fish. Every really large fish I've ever caught was caught while wearing that hat. Big bass from my pond, BIG king salmon and many sockeye in Alaska, every trout I ever caught, including the BIG rainbow while fishing Creed's #3 cane rod. To say nothing of a thousand fat bluegills and a 7 pound catfish on a flyrod.

It may be even better at hunting. My first deer, a muley, was taken while wearing that hat, on a beautiful, tall mountain in northeastern Nevada. A running shot, with a single-shot black powder rifle. A shot I would have never considered if I hadn't been wearing the hat, but one I pulled off with finesse, because I was. Two other deer have been taken in the same area, both with the help of the hat. Plus many whitetail deer back home in Kentucky. It's all so easy, because of the hat. Every deer I've taken has fallen to one well placed shot. You see, when I wear the hat, I can't miss...and I'm invisible. That's the only way to explain it. Honest.

Where the hat excels, though, is at dreaming the fire. When I'm snuggled up to a good campfire, in some wonderful place, exotic or mundane, then's when the real magic starts. I couldn't begin to describe the intense pleasure I've experienced in that situation, so many times, in so many places. Whether I'm alone, just ruminating, or sitting with a good friend, it's always a special time. I spent countless hours enjoying that time before it dawned on me that the hat was working there, also. It clears my mind, sharpens my thoughts, shows me relationships and paths of logic which I would never see for myself. It intensifies my feelings for friends, family, and the natural world I so dearly love to submerge myself in. The sunsets are more brilliant, the stars are brighter, the breezes more gentle, the very ground softer to sit on, when I'm wearing my hat. Naturally, I can't wait for darkness, and time to build the dream fire.

Of course, since I first realized what a treasure I had, I've always worn it. It goes on first and comes off last while on any outing, and I've even been known to sleep in it. Need I say the dreams are always sweet, when I'm wearing my hat?

Some people seem concerned with how a hat effects their looks. I've even heard the term "dork" mentioned. No such supercilious considerations ever enter my mind, when I'm wearing my hat. The reason, you see, is that I feel so great on the inside with my hat on, that what I look like on the outside never enters my mind. That's what a magic hat does for you.

I hesitated long and long before revealing my secret about the hat, and still don't know if it was a mistake. Time will tell. I did so for only one reason. Everyone needs to be aware of the possibility of such a thing happening to them, too. If you wear a cowboy hat, and only if, keep an eye on it. Glance at it when least expected. Think about it. Be sensitive to the vibes. If you are very, very lucky, it could happen to you. And it's wonderful.

Copyright © B. E. Spencer 2000 All rights reserved.

Back to The Notebook