Sunday, June 26, 2016

Uncle Jack and The Pitiful Buck

"Social" hunting story:

Social means ... your wives are along on the trip; so you're not so much
Back in the seventies, I went on a deer hunting trip with my father.  Almost the last trip we shared together.

We were hunting with a childhood friend of my father ... let's cal him "Jack".

The hunt occurred in a deep-canyon/mountainous area in Eastern Oregon, and Jack was foolish enough to shoot a deer deep in  (actually, ACROSS) a canyon.  I followed my father and Jack deep into the canyon where the deer had died, and it was a scrawny specimen.  But Jack had killed it, so we were obliged to reap the meet.

I carried the rifles of my father and Jack, and my own .. it was a sufficient burden to make the trek up the step slope ... burdensome.  I was only 15 years old, and scrawny at that!

I was glad I wasn't trying to drag that skinny buck up the mountainside; it was more effort than it was worth.
When we got the buck back to the mountain-side, the carcass had been beat to death; all they could do (Jack and my father) was drag it up the mountain, with one hand for the antlers (which provided a convenient handhold) and one hand for the new-growth firs with which the area had been recently re-seeded.  Yes, Jack had gutted the deer, but even a mere 80 pounds of deer is a handful on such a st eep (50 degree) slope.

when they had finally humped the yearling back to the campsite, my father and I enjoyed a LARGE whiskey; not in celebration so much as a grateful end to a boring and perilous trek.

JACK was left with the chore of dressing the buck.

I watched as Jack skinned the buck (he hat gutted it before we started back up the mountain .. guts are heavy! ... and after he got the hide off, every bit of meat we could see was dark with blood-shot.

Jack took over an hour to find some viable meat on that carcass, after he took the hide off.  It was all blood-shot as hell, and he threw away more than he put into the bucket.

By the time he was done, the gut bucket, or the hide, or the bloodshot-bucket held more weight than the usable meet which he salvaged.  I think that was Jack's most embarrassing moment, because he had wasted so much meat by his determination to 'bring home the bacon' that his only pride was that he had made a good, clean one-shot kill .. but had reaped little bacon for the exercise.  It wasn't worth the trek to drag the deer up out of the valley.

Jack took more time to dress the meat than he did to drag it up out of the falley.  He REALLY shouldn't have taken the shot, but his pride wouldn't allow him to pass it up.

I still remember the vision of that skeletal carcass, hanging from a tree-dependent meat-hook after Jack had taken every edible morsel of meat off it. It was pitiful.

It was a bad kill;
we all knew it.

We all resented the effort it took to drag that dead body (it was already not 'game' but a 'victim') out of the deep cut between the tall mountains.  The women were without comment; my mother, Jack's wife, my wife ... Jack was a friend, and we didn't need to tell him he had made a fool of himself.

He knew it.

That was the last time I hunted deer.
I soon learned that Pronghorn Antelope were MUCH more interesteing!

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