I really enjoy my game cameras. I have three of them now and hang them from trees along well known deer runs on Buck Mountain near the Smalltown Boys’ Camp north of home.
Last fall, my brother, K.C., and his son, Eli, and I were some excited by the pre-deer season photos captured on my cameras. I got shots of several nice whitetails, but there was one image that made our hearts beat faster than that of my chubby cousin Ralphie at the “All You Can Eat Buffet” down at the St. Jamesboro IHOP. This deer was a big eight pointer, so fat we called him “the pig.” He’d apparently helped himself to apples and acorns like it was his job.
Following a week at camp—that’s hours of hunting, poker, over-eating and beer guzzling—we’d seen a few deer, but not “the pig.”
I was with my nephew when we heard a gunshot from his father’s direction. The shot sounded like it was from miles away, so we paid little attention to it and finished our Butterfinger and Snickers power snacks.
A half hour later, I checked my iPhone for messages. There were 12 new texts, all from K.C., telling me he’d shot “the pig” and could use some help.
Needless to say, Eli and I hustled—as fast as my 62 year-old self can hustle—to my brother’s aid. Our buddy, Roy, heard the shot; thought about the dragging; and ran down to camp.
After 30 minutes of admiring the massive buck, field dressing and photo taking, it was time to drag him to the cabin where our Dad, who was now aware of K.C.’s trophy, was anxiously awaiting our arrival.
Eli held all three rifles as K.C. and I each grabbed a side of the big rack and gave it a tug to haul the big boy out of the little gulley where he had come to his final resting place. “The pig” hardly budged.
K.C. looked at his much older brother and politely suggested it would make more sense for me to carry the guns and for “the strapping seventeen-year-old”—my nephew—to replace me as a deer dragger.
I was too relieved to be insulted and took the rifles from Eli. The drag out of the gulley was slow but, luckily, short. The rest of the haul was down the steep, snow-covered mountainside logging road to camp.
Being the senior member of our hunting party, I diligently led the way . . . for a while. Gravity was working in favor of the younger draggers to the extent that my brother said to me: “I hate to add insult to injury, bro, but could you get your fat ass out of the way so we won’t run you over?”
For someone who hates to insult me, K.C. sure is good at it.
An hour and a half later, we got back to the Smalltown Boys’ Camp where “Ol’ Dad” was pacing the floor. Dad doesn’t pace as fast as he once did. He’s suffered some nerve damage to his legs which has slowed him down a bit.
My brother was the first to notice that the cabin was as neat as a pin; the floors swept, the beds made, the dishes done. “What got into you Dad?” he asked.
Dad looked a little sheepish and explained. “Old habits. After you called, I got so excited I put on my draggin’ boots, my hunting pants and my wool jacket and then said to myself: “Damn, I forgot. I can hardly walk.”
“So, I was so nerved up, I cleaned the camp, instead.”
We made some more memories that day. My younger brother made me proud . . . again. Not only did he put his deer hunting skills to good use and bag a trophy buck, he also showed me a talent I didn’t know he possessed. As we neared the end of the drag, he stopped, looked up at the nearly clear sky, tugged at his beard, took off his hat, pointed to a small cluster of clouds and made a very accurate forecast: “I think there’s a good chance it’ll get drunk out tonight.”