Monday, August 14, 2017


   I know these farmers. They probably could've bought a nice old farm with cleared fields and pasture, but this being Sullivan County, they opted to do it the hard way. They cut timber, moved rocks, burned brush and cleared enough stone riddled property to raise pigs and chickens.  Down by the wood line, they put in a nice little apple orchard. They are a hardscrabble little family, two kids, a boy and a girl, sometimes clothed, ofttimes not, carving a place of love out of the woods, on a dead end road they, as Crane would put it, "battled with hordes of ignorant bushes on (their) way to knolls and solitary trees which invited (them)." It was a constant struggle, but they were young and foolish and when the townsfolk shook their heads and spit, they just smiled and did it their way.
    These farmers fought the weather- too wet- too dry, and the tax man, everything was skeeved and skewered with  post dated checks and strained credit lines, disaster always lurking just around the corner. I do what I can for them, poor souls. So when they came to me, yet with another complaint, I listened, shook my head but.....instead of spitting, I agreed to help. What melted my cold heart you ask? I'll let the farmer tell it:

"This one fucking deer had been getting in the orchard and stripping the new growth on those apple trees. You know how much 2500 apple trees cost? I can't afford to just let the deer rob me blind. Come on, man. What choice did I have? So the other day, I was going to work and I saw that doe. I went in and got my gun..." Let me stop the farmer there for a second. He does have a "gun" (old lever action .30-.30 with iron sights), that probably has never been sighted in.  "....and took a bead on her back and touched one off. The damn deer didn't even stop eating. I got a better rest, took my time and shot again. This time she raised her head, with half a branch in her mouth and then continued stripping the tree....."
    To make a very long (12 shots) story short, lets cut to shot number 12. "I got about 30 yards away and gut shot her. She fell but wasn't dead. Now I was out of fucking shells. So I went back to the house, got a shovel......" I'll spare you the bloody, Shakespearian tragedy from the doe's perspective. The community had unknowingly devoured the evidence the night before at a backstrap bbq, thinking it was pork.
    This story is what put me in a nice folding chair, behind two massive boulders, overlooking the apple orchard, scoped .30-06 laying on a steady rest, reading Stephen Crane's "Sullivan County Tales and Sketches" written in 1892, this afternoon. Sure, I'm doing it for my friends the farmers, not to mention it's a rather pleasant way to wile away an afternoon, but ultimately I'm doing it for the deer. Some are made to farm and some are made to hunt. I do not want to kill a deer in August. It's hot, buggy and the deer are unpredictable and still deep in the woods. I'll be lucky to catch one with an apple twig in it's mouth, but if I do, I'll be equipped to kill it quickly, gut it and hang it up ready to be butchered. Then, I'll say thanks  to the deer and for having such good friends and we'll all share the venison. I was there all afternoon and only saw one bunny rabbit. But it's only day one. The "ignorant bushes" be damned. How little things have changed since Crane.


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