THINGS CHANGE

Things can change in a New York minute, in any of our backyards. I recently had a curve ball come my way, and had to move away from my beloved home, quite abruptly. My 87 year old father, Robert Laine, came from Connecticut and helped me move a lifetime of belongings. We had a tag sale. What I couldn't keep I sold. What I couldn't sell I gave away. In the mud and the rain my dad fell on his face and broke his nose.

This sudden change in life has left me exhausted. I plan to have new, and wonderful stories to tell in the future, but for now I am taking the month off. In honor of my dad, I would like to tell you a hunting story he told me. I think it's wonderful and so will you.

As told by Robert Laine:

In November of 1954 I went on my first deer hunting trip to a little camp in Maine, which was located about 30 miles into the deep woods of Jackson. Our party consisted of John Crowley, Jack Lucas, Ed Hawthorne, and myself (all Winchester co-workers). Another member of our party was Ed Cushing, who was a small boar shooting champion from New Hampshire. I was a new member of the party, having only one year previous experience in hunting deer.

The week started off with a "bang" you might say, for in the first day Ed Cushing got his first deer. (Incredibly, Ed has bagged his deer on the first day of every trip since!) We thought this was going to be some week!

Tuesday went by without any luck for the rest of the party. Not a deer in sight. Wednesday and Thursday came and slowly went, and by nightfall we were a very sad group. After talking things over I suggested that we all hunt around the same vicinity, so that our chances of scaring game on to one another would be greater.

This idea paid off, for Friday morning I heard a shot and came upon John Crowley with his prize: a nice big doe. I helped John drag out his deer to the truck road, at which point the lumber truck would come along during the day and helpfully bring the deer back to camp. After leaving John, I settled down to some serious hunting.

About an hour passed when I heard another shot straight ahead of me. I walked on to find Ed Cushing with his second prize, another nice doe. I helped Ed drag out his deer and as we reached the road we also met Jack dragging out his deer. By this time I was pretty tuckered out for dragging two deer. The fellows both remarked about it as they were about to go on their way. I said that if I were lucky enough to get my deer no one would be around to help me out. They assured me that in that event I was to fire five shots and they would leave camp and do the same for me.

It was about noon, so I left the trail for a ways, and sat down to rest and eat my lunch. I was rather disgusted at this point for not even seeing a deer for two days, even though I saw plenty of tracks. But everything was in my favor as it had snowed that Thursday, and it was starting to pick up again. I waited and watched until it was getting on late afternoon and the light was beginning to fade.

I met up with my friend Ed on the trail. He was pretty lame and decided to start in. I told Ed that I just had to get my deer! We wished each other luck and I was alone once again. I realized that I only had about an hour of daylight left, and since we were pulling out of camp the next day, I was desperate. I continued off the trail for about 150 yards when I spotted fresh tracks. I started off on a dead run for at least a couple of miles, when I had to stop to catch my breath. Then I walked cautiously for another 50 yards.

There he was! My buck, coming over a small ridge right towards me! He was as close as 100 feet when he must have picked up my scent and he stopped. I aimed my Winchester just as he leaped off at a 90 degree angle from me. I followed him through the air and pulled the trigger. It seemed like he slew sideways about four feet, then down he went.

It was then that I knew I would have to race against time to dress him down and make camp before dusk. I was so warm from running after that deer, that I stripped to the waist while I cleaned him out. With this chore completed, I realized how unequipped I was when I left camp early that morning. I had forgotten to take a tote line along as well as a plastic bag to encase the
heart and liver. There was only one choice for a tote line: I used my boot laces and tied them together so they wouldn't break. They weren't quite long enough, so I removed my belt and used that too. (How I carried the heart and liver comes later in this story.)

I had been traveling down hill to this spot and decided to try another way back to camp. I hoped to find a trail that would bring me out to the truck road before dark. My time was hindered by my having to hold my trousers up with one hand since my belt was now pulling the deer, and whenever I hit deep snow my boots would fall off. Then to add to my trouble, every time I bent down to grab the line, my rifle would slide off my shoulder and bump my head.

By now darkness had come and it was with relief that I hit the trail leading to the truck road. Now all I had to do was signal my buddies for some help. I fired my five shots and sat down to wait. I knew I had long missed the last truck into camp and after waiting for an hour, I started dragging my deer closer to camp, expecting help any minute. In all, I had already dragged him close to seven miles. When I realized no help was coming, I continued to drag my deer the rest of the way.

All that week I had been the first to leave camp and the last to return, and each night John would greet me at the door with a pot, asking where the camp meat was. Tonight however, he wasn't at the door. I stumbled in, asked him where the heck the pot was, reached into my hunting jacket and out came my blood soaked thermal shirt in which I had wrapped the heart and liver. I must have looked like a hunter who had been lost for a couple of weeks. I had vowed not to shave until I got my deer, and what with holding up my pants, and no laces in my boots, I provided my pals with a roar of laughter. They hadn't heard my signal, for they were too busy filling their bellies with their supper. Nevertheless, it was one hunting trip they always remember and one that I will never forget.
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DEER readers:

My dad hunted with this group as long as I can remember, but my mother never knew how to prepare deer meat. She buttered a cast iron frying pan, and cooked the meat until it resembled and tasted like an old shoe! My sister and I hated it!

We also hated Dad's scruffy beard. Every year we would pray that he not come home with a carcass on top of the car. And every year when he did come home, my mother had painted the house and
Dad often said he walked into the wrong house.

Over the years the deer meat accumulated in a huge freezer chest and became encased in ice. One year my parents left for vacation and unbeknownst to us the freezer went kaput. The meat thawed and rotted. My sister and I couldn't figure out where the smell was coming from! When we finally did, we had the task of removing several huge garbage bags of rotted venison. To this day I have no taste for it.

Good luck to all you hunters!

 



Pat Laine is a 9 year resident of Clinton. She owns and operates Little Creek Therapeutic Massage. She shares her home with her Maine Coon cat and collie dog. Whether walking in the woods, or along Little Wappingers Creek and its environs, she observes the miracles of wildlife and plant life on a daily basis.



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