The Deer that Got Away (and the Squirrel that Didn’t)

"I'm a tree. Not a deer. Just a tree."

Of all the family members I write about, my two oldest brothers, Mack and Hentz, are the ones who appear least frequently.  For his part, Hentz has been noticeably tight-lipped since I started committing these stories to print. Which makes sense because his advice when I started my blog was, “Be careful that you don’t write anything now that could be admitted as evidence later.”

Also, I still like to use his boat pretty often, so I haven’t really pushed the issue.

Mack lives in Denver these days, so we don’t get to talk as much as we used to. But recently, he and Hentz gave me their individual perspectives on a story about the first deer they didn’t kill together.

As young teens, our father took them to the camp to go hunting. The plan was to drop off Mack on one of the old roads going down to the slough. Daddy and Hentz then rode further up the swamp where he was going to put Hentz out.

As Hentz tells it, after Mack got out, they had only gone a few hundred yards when Daddy hit the brakes, pointed out the window and said, “There’s a buck right there. Shoot him.”

Road to the Camp

There’s a deer in this picture. Somewhere. Maybe.

Hentz pointed his shotgun out the window in that general direction, but all he could see was trees.

“Shoot him!” Daddy said, now with even more enthusiasm. Hentz still didn’t see the deer.

“Boy, he’s right there. Shoot him before he runs off.”

At this point, Hentz decided it best just to fire off a shot into the trees. When he did, the buck magically appeared, nowhere near where he’d aimed and now on a dead run through the woods. He shot a couple more times just for good measure

When it was obvious that the deer was still in excellent health, Daddy let fly with his favorite expression: “My achin’ back.”

Then it occurred to him that the deer was headed directly toward where they had put Mack out just a few minutes before.

“Maybe Mack will see him,” Daddy said. As soon as he said the words, they heard a shotgun blast from that direction.

“Ha! I bet he got him, “ Daddy said. And with his hope for the next generation restored, they drove back as fast as they could.

Sure enough, there was Mack, standing in the road with a big grin on his face.

According to Mack, he could see Daddy smiling too as they rolled up. But the smile suddenly disappeared — right when Mack held up the fox squirrel he’d just killed.

According to both Mack and Hentz, the ride home was pretty tense that day.



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