I just got off the phone speaking to an old friend. He was curious to know if I was the author of the articles that he had been reading in the Southwest Times on the Outdoor Page.
Of course I admitted that he had reached the right person and we caught up on current events in no time flat.
“Swede” Blevins and I go way, way back. Soon we were reliving past hunts and fishing trips that we shared as younger men.
He recalled the first deer I harvested and the invaluable assistance he provided in recovering the animal. We were hunting on top of Little Walkers Mountain on a morning so cold that my stand was chosen not by it being the best place to set up, but by the fact that the sun, as it rose, would provide some semblance of heat.
I sat shivering in the spot of sunlight when I heard a deer approaching. I listened to the crunch of hooves for at least five minutes as the deer walked quickly through the frost covered leaves toward where I sat. When the little spike came into view, he was walking briskly along a trail I was not aware of just below my semi-warm stand.
I carried my 30/30 Marlin that morning and my shaking and my excitement caused me to shoot as the deer walked by. This caused the hit to be too far behind the shoulder and the deer humped up, when shot, and ran toward the top of the ridge.
I was just far enough away not to be sure of my shot and I stood up and walked over to the trail the deer was traveling. When I found the blood and looked toward the ridge top the deer jumped from where he had laid down and went over the top and down towards the valley in Millers Creek far below.
“Swede” walked over to where I was trailing the deer and asked if I needed his help in tracking. He carried a 35 caliber rifle and was experienced in following spoor. I was glad he offered to help and gratefully accepted his offer.
Down off the side of the mountain we went. He led the way and I followed closely behind. The deer went trough the roughest terrain imaginable on its way to the base of the mountain. Several times we jumped the deer from a bed where it had laid down. On one occasion, “Swede” was surprised, turning quickly back up the mountain almost knocking me down in his haste to escape the wrath of the injured deer. He said later that it never entered his mind to use his 35 caliber on his imagined attacker.
After a long trek down the mountain we finally lost the spoor at a hollow that dropped off steeply at the bottom of the ridge. “Swede” went up the hollow and I went down. Soon after leaving each other I was able to dispatch the deer with another shot.
Then I learned the fundamentals of field dressing a deer. It was more complicated than I thought and much messier.
We were still about a mile from the Millers Creek Road and began the chore of dragging the carcass out of the woods and through the field to the roadway. In some places it was so thick that the deer was thrown across “Swede’s” shoulder and toted some distance before he suggested I carry it awhile.
After being accosted by two other hunters who heard the final shot and thought the deer might be one they had just seen and fired at, we finally reached the roadway.
I hitched a ride to the top of the mountain to fetch my vehicle and we took the deer to be checked in. I had the little spike mounted.
Sometimes deer are mounted for reasons other than massive antlers.
“Swede” and I are still reminiscing and I will be glad to pass these memories on as they are transferred to pen and ink.