The Christmas Buck
By Ed Turner
As close as I can remember, it was December 2001. I was hunting with my son-in-law and I was still giddy from some recent success. I'd had a pretty good season thus far, with the harvest of a 10 point taken during early Tennessee muzzleloader season and then taking a couple more bucks up in Connecticut, hunting with my friend Gary.
I returned to Tennessee from Connecticut and commenced to some more hunting. I took a decent buck with my 1952 Model 70 and was simply "livin' the life." My son-in-law to be was still, however looking for his first buck. I kept encouraging him to accompany me to our very good area and he kept agreeing.
One late December afternoon I got him to go with me (again) and sent him off to the best location I knew. Me, four bucks already, I was content to sit in a comfortable spot and await his shot.
I sat, loosely holding my .300 Savage Model 99. No shots by sundown and a few minutes later I heard the unmistakable sound of a deer walking. The predator in me kicked in and I readied that Savage, getting ready for the appearance of that deer. He hit the far side of the gully to my right and, as he was down in it, I aligned the .300 to where I figured he should be.
He climbed up the near bank and I gave a soft grunt. When he stopped, I shot and he hunched up and ran down the hill. (Of course, he went DOWNHILL!). I heard him crash and grinned with buck #5 of the season. Then, I realized it was about to get dark and it was all uphill for the upcoming drag.
Now, the shortened version is thus: My 6' 8" son-in-law was there to help me drag the buck up that hill. After he allowed me to get him a full 25 yards uphill without croaking, he finished the rest of the 100 yards faster than I could keep up. (He's a keeper!)
We loaded the buck in my truck and then drove to the nearby check station. This is in rural Tennessee, mind you. We pulled in at the store/gas station/local hangout and went inside to register my deer. I looked around and noticed a local fella, someone who had obviously not had the best of luck the last few years.
I had seen him several times, riding his bicycle up and down the roads in the area. He was not well off. We finished checking our deer and I turned to this fellow and motioned for him to come over for a minute. He did and I asked if he would like to have the deer I had just shot.
Well, I am still to this day, blown away from his response. He literally started jumping up and down and pretty much screamed, "Hell yes!" I smiled and said, "Well come on, we'll take you and the deer to your house." (I knew where his trailer was.)
He sat in the back of our truck with the deer and his bike for the one-mile ride. He jumped out and moved away the bushes he dragged across the driveway, whenever he was gone, to keep people out. Mike and I delivered that deer to a tree in his yard. We donated a rope to hang it with and left with echoes in our ears of how excited he was to have a Christmas feast at hand.
I have thought of that deer many times. How I probably should not have shot him, but mostly about how, because I did, I made someone's Christmas a bit better. Sorry this telling was so long, but I couldn't tell it any other way. Merry Christmas!
Copyright 2012 by Ed Turner. All rights reserved.