Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Why Bobby Quit Hunting (the real reason)

Cold Sweat, MS> This past weekend I ended up at the famous Christmas Place for a rare relaxing weekend. Burney and Bobby were there. I brought Denise and Camo. A quiet time, and all the work was done. We rode four wheelers, looked at fields and came in and watched the Rebels at 8:00. (we lost) That night, while watching the game, we ate pizza, and afterwards sat around and talked. It was late when we hit the bed. It felt good to be with friends and have a relaxing evening. I quickly fell into a sound sleep. Later that night I suddenly found myself wide awake. Lying very still, I listened for sound.
A very low moan came from the living room. The sound of the refrigerator opening and then closing, the clink of a glass and then the low murmur of the TV made me wonder who could be prowling around at that time of night. I quietly got up and eased into the room. Bobby was sitting in front of the TV with a glass of milk in hand. The TV had CNN quietly giving news, but Bobby was lost in his own thoughts. A low moan escaped from his lips, he shook his head, took a drink and stared blindly at the news. “Bobby, are you alright?” I asked. He jumped, smiled and became his old self.
He said he couldn’t sleep and a glass of cold milk helped. I sat on the couch and we chatted a minute. He quickly became lost in his thoughts again as I flipped channels looking for football scores. Suddenly and very quietly he asked me, “Rex, do you know the real reason I quit deer hunting?” I made a joke about him pretending to be old and using a cane but could tell he wasn’t listening. It grew quiet and he told me this story.
It was the first year that we came here. 1995, I think. We had worked clearing fields, planting and getting everything ready. I was really excited and by the big buck sign I saw, really believed that I would finally get a trophy size buck. The last afternoon I hunted, I told everyone that I saw a big buck right at dark, but it was so dark that I didn’t shoot.
That’s not what really happened.
I hunted in the big field across the Beaver Dam if you remember. I had my .270 and my old Kodak camera just in case I got that old buck. He smiled to himself and then went on. I was sitting in that old rickety box stand. It was a little dangerous but Hershel had said it would last for that year anyway. I saw four does that afternoon and as the sun went down I got ready for a giant buck to appear. It got darker and darker and just as I thought I ought to get down, I heard footsteps. I could hear the steps coming and figured it was straight across the field. I got my camera up to take an action shot, but dropped it back in my lap as I realized that something terrible was coming through the woods. The creature, whatever it was, stepped out into the edge of the field. I froze and felt the hair on my neck stand up. It was huge, shaped like a man, but wild and covered with hair or fur. It stood on its’ hind legs like a man and looked up and down the field. Then it got very still. Finally, it turned it’s head and looked directly at me. I was so scared that I could not move or breathe. The thing was tall, maybe 7 feet and keeping its’ eyes on me, stepped out and headed straight towards me. It moved fast with big loping steps. I managed to get my safety off and tried to get my scope on it, but I panicked as I suddenly realized it was probably coming to get me. I stood up and aimed my rifle, but with several large steps it disappeared directly underneath the 20 ft high box stand. I waited for it to climb up but never heard a sound. Not a footstep, not the crack of a twig, nothing. It got dark as I waited. I waited 30 more minutes and never heard a sound. I turned on my light and shined it all around, went to the ladder and made sure to shine the light all around and then holding the rifle under one arm eased down the ladder.
You do not know, but it was one of the bravest things I’ve ever done. Getting to the bottom of the ladder, I held the light against my rifle barrel and made sure to investigate every clump of grass and tree around me. I stepped backwards into the field. I backed all the way across the field and turned around as I got to the old road that lead to the four wheeler. Just as I got to the edge of the field, I head a sharp CRACK!, along with several loud grunts. I whipped around with my rifle ready to shoot and in the dim light saw the old stand wildly shaking and moving back and forth.
Another loud CRACK! and the stand fell over into the field. I turned and ran. That was the last time I ever went hunting.
We sat there in silence for a few minutes and he said “I tried to imagine that it didn’t really happen, that it was a dream I had. He shook his head, reached into his shirt and said “I found this a couple of days ago in some old film Burney got developed”. He handed me a picture and said “I didn’t even know I took it”.

I studied the picture for awhile, then looked at my watch. It was 5:00AM. I got up, made a pot of coffee and Bobby and I watched the news. We didn’t go back to bed that night and we didn’t talk about what happened to him either.


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