Snowy Start to December
December 9, 2021, 3:16 pm
Filed under: December 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

December 9, 2021

December has arrived. I have been busy deer hunting. It is usually a fun time, but this year was bittersweet. My uncle Fred passed away during this deer season. He was my mom’s youngest brother. He was a great friend to me all of my life. He was with me the day I got my first deer. It was a buck!

I was a very excited 15 year old boy. We had hunted all that morning, but hadn’t seen anything. We stopped for a quick lunch of my mom’s homemade tomato soup. Once we had eaten and visited with mom, we headed back out to make a pass around a large weedy field.

We posted the field. I walked down the remnants of an old fence line. Quietly, I watched the field and walked slowly looking for deer. All at once I saw him. The buck raised his head and I thought he was the “Hartford Elk” the old mascot of an insurance company. I was focused and a little shaky at the same time.

My uncle told me to grab a rest on a nearby sapling, aim, relax and shoot. It was a textbook shot. The deer died quickly, dropping in its tracks. We walked up to the kill and there he was, an 8 point buck. He was an old timer, so his rack was smallish, resembling a basket, but I was filled with pride. My uncle too.

We were a long way from the house. We gutted the buck. I told my uncle to stay with the deer and I would go get one of my ponies to pull the deer back home. It seemed like a very good plan. The pony however, wasn’t to thrilled about the idea. He wasn’t too keen on the fresh blood smell. We started home a bit quicker than I would have liked.

Things were going fairly well although I was taking some very large strides, when we got to the top of an old gully that was on the way home. We hit the top edge of the gully and as the path dropped towards the bottom, the pony, the deer and I picked up even more speed. My uncle who was short in stature, was already jogging behind me. I could hear him roaring with laughter as we dropped out of sight.

I made it down the hill in about three jumps. That deer made funny noises as it bumped along behind the fast stepping pony. Those noises fueled the pony’s flight reflex just in time to start up the other side of the gully. My big old rubber boots made a thundering sound as I grappled to keep my feet under me. It was touch and go for a few moments, but we all made it to the top. I squeaked out a whoa and my pony stopped.

The pony and I heaved and gasped for breath. Both of us were soaked in sweat and quivering. My uncle was almost on his knees, holding his sides and hoping not to pee himself as he continued to howl in laughter. The pony and I were not quite as amused.

I talked softly to old Stormy and asked my steady steed to walk a little slower as we made the final leg of the journey home. I gathered the lines and spoke to old Stormy. We were off like a shot once again! The bucks antler caught in the ground and flipped his body into my almost running legs. I fell onto the dragging deer, swept completely off my feet. The pony didn’t even flinch. He just reached out farther with his front legs covering more ground as we flew.

I squeaked another whoa and Stormy stopped. I rolled off the deer and onto my feet in one motion. I looked back for uncle Fred, but I couldn’t see him. I stood there for a minute looking for my dear uncle when I noticed the goldenrod tops moving where he was literally rolling on the ground laughing. He said when I did the deer surfing thing, it was the final straw for his composure.

We did get that old buck to the house no worse for wear. The pony too was fine. He was just glad that the job was done. Uncle Fred made it to the house as I unhitched the pony. He started telling my mom the whole story. It was funny watching him try to tell the story to mom. I began to laugh and we all kept laughing about it for years.

That story happened on my mom’s birthday almost 40 year ago. This year I stood in the woods on mom’s birthday, thinking about her and my uncle, now both passed from this life, I smiled. My heart hurt a little, but this old story came to mind. We all laughed until we cried ….

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