The Hunt for Chestie McCougarHunter

Posted by Ryan Jerz on Tuesday July 14, 2009.

Yesterday was a long one for me. I spent the morning answering emails and prepping for some future activities at work, then set out in Reno to take some photos along the river. After the river I was going to meet a couple people at the Eldorado for a video shoot for work. Those shoots are always a bit long. You have to set up lighting, get everything perfect, then have the talent actually deliver the lines properly. Then you break down, move locations, and do it all over again. It wasn’t a horrible length of time by any means, but when it starts at 3pm and goes until 8, it can wear you down. By that time I’m usually done with dinner and relaxing at home with everyone.

otter popsOtter Pops: A great cool treat, perfect for the Summer months.After finishing I just wanted to chill out. I decided to stop and grab some wine. I called home and told Christy that’s what I was doing. She asked me to grab some Otter Pops, a true Summertime favorite for me. I told her that I could handle that. Where it took me I’ll never forget.

I walked into SaveMart on Plumb Lane and started thinking about where the Otter Pops are kept. Right at the front they had a display of a generic brand of them. We had just finished off that same ones and they just weren’t the same thing, so I passed them up and went in search of the real deal.

I chose, for whatever reason, to start my search on the coffee and tea aisle. I think it was mostly because I just needed to get in there and start somewhere. It was a fateful choice, to be sure. I headed down and scanned. Nothing really looked like I would find Otter Pops there, so I did an about face and began to make my way toward the front of the store to find a better aisle to start down.

Then I saw him.

Innocently looking over the tea selection was the legend of local folklore, Chestie McCougarHunter. You know who he is. Reno Chestologist Mike Henderson describes him as such:

You can recognize Chestie by his bulging and exposed chest muscles. He has the most magnificent chest in Reno. If you find yourself magnetically transfixed on the chest, man or woman, boy or girl, you’re in the midst of Chestie.

Chestie has dark hair, dark skin, is about 5 foot 10 [and]…has been seen in the Old Southwest area of Reno somewhere south of La Rue, North of Virginia Lake, East of Arlington Ave, and West of Watt St.

Attempts at documenting his existence have been met with derision in the past, so I had to make this good. Possibly in haste, I quickly set my beautiful, elegant, and user-friendly iPhone to the camera application. I positioned my thumb just above the button to take a picture, and I put the phone to my ear, faking a phone call. I move within six feet of Chestie and began perusing the teas. I pushed the button. The sound was off, which is preferable when trying not to alert someone that you’re stealthily taking their picture, but not so great if you’re wondering if you got the shot. I confusedly looked at the phone to confirm the shot. Nothing. I did it again. Nothing. What the heck?

Attempted Chestie McCougarHunter capture at Save Mart on Plumb LaneChestie shot 1: My attempt to "talk on the phone" while snapping a shot of Chestie examining his tea choices failed. Photo by Ryan Jerz.The third attempt might have been worse than failure. It was the result me hastily shooting and removing the phone from my ear to look at my work. The nerves were starting to get to me and I was not performing well under the pressure. I quickly attempted one more shot and failed at that one, too. Chestie was perhaps getting suspicious, or was perhaps done with that area of the store, so he left. I had to come up with a plan.

One major benefit of iPhones is that it is becoming common to see people walking around looking at their screens. I moved past Chestie, perhaps even brushing he shoulder as I made my way through a tighter spot in store traffic. I can’t quite remember if that was the case, but it was close either way. I wandered down another aisle as a decoy, then turned around and went back toward him. The phone was raised and I set the shot. Bam. I got it as I approached him and he waited in the checkout line.

As Chestie is known to do, he seemed to turn his face away from my direction just as the camera fired.

Immediately, I left the scene and found solace at the end of the soda aisle. I quickly tapped out the message to my Twitter followers that I had spotted Chestie:

HOLY SHIT!! I don’t want to jump the gun, but is this @chestie with his shirt on?!?!?

Chestie at Save Mart on Plumb LaneProof of Chestie: I resorted to the blatant ‘looking at my screen inquisitively’ maneuver in order to get the shot I needed for proof. Photo by Ryan Jerz.But I forgot the picture! I quickly got the link to the picture set up and posted again, alerting people to the proper place to view my success. Almost immediately, a debate began in public and in private.

Jim Scripps wanted to doubt my capturing of the rare image. He called Chestie a lookalike at first. When I quipped that it was indeed Chestie, and not a lookalike he backpedaled a little, but didn’t go as far as to agree that it was Chestie. Mike McDowell chimed in by agreeing with Jim and questioning the photo quality (WTF?). Only Mike Henderson agreed that it was Chestie. Yes it was, Mike.

Out of the argument arose a challenge. It’s not exactly a new challenge, but it is one that isn’t exactly well-publicized. The challenge is to capture Chestie on camera with indisputable evidence that it is Chestie on the other end.

I asked possible Chestie expert Jim Scripps to lay out the challenge and comment further on my sighting. He had this to say:

The challenge is this: A photo that

  • captures Chestie McCougarHunter
  • in his natural environment
  • with his shirt off and
  • on his bike.

The photo must also provide unquestionable evidence of his existence — evidence that future generations can point to as absolute.

So the test is thus:

A) Is this photo Chestie McCougarHunter?
Answer: Yes. Probably.

B) Is he in his natural environment?
Answer: No. Chestie’s natural environment is the four-block area around Wingfield Park downtown

C) Does he have his shirt off?
Answer: No. But he is wearing his signature tanktop.

D) Is he on his bike?
Answer: No. Although the iPod on the shoulder and the tone of his calves indicates a recent bike ride.

So while it is reasonable to think this is Chestie, there is a worthwhile and important debate that must be had. Can you fail three parts of the four-part test and have a certifiable photo of Chestie?

In this case, it is difficult for me to say yes.

While I understand that Jim has reservations regarding my sighting of Chestie and does not want to sign off on the confirmation of his existence based on my photographic evidence, I also must come to my own defense here and insist that I was close enough to touch Chestie with my own hands and chose not to do so due to fear of disturbing him as he hunted for sustenance.

I was also, naturally, both nervous and excited. I had a monumental opportunity here, and I was afraid I might screw it up. In fact, based on the early photo, it could be said that I did screw it up. I even forgot to include the photo in my initial post to Twitter about the sighting. That was due to my excitement.

The challenge is now on. Someone must capture Chestie on camera, proving that he is for real. Be vigilant, people, and be prepared. Your best camera is the one you have with you, so don’t go anywhere without carrying your weapon. Consider this post the “Jerz Photos” in the saga that is sure to ensue.

By the way, I never found real Otter Pops. I just bought the generic ones.

UPDATE
Previous Chestie McCougarHunter sightings (with video) – I am Indisposed

Ryan JerzRyan Jerz is an all-around good guy who wants people to eventually refer to him as "that dude who climbs mountains."

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