Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Uncle Bens hunting story.

Hunting season is on, and all this talk about hunting has been interfering with my sleep. Last night my dog awakened me to tell me about the noises that she heard outside. As I listened, I heard the familiar dry rattling sound of a deer rubbing the velvet off its horns in the brush. She has her own dog door and a chain-link fenced yard. She doesn’t bark at night, because she gets in trouble if she does. But, she made many trips outside to whimper at the deer, then back to nudge me out of bed. I often share in her experiences, whether she is pointing out a coon or a wild turkey, I won’t talk about the night she found the skunk.

She is a McNabb Shepherd / fox terrier mixed dog like my fathers favorite hunting dog. She is what I call a “Kekawaka Creek Pig Hunting Dog”, because I got her from the hunting camp out there. Her full sister is a champion blood-tracking dog that is quite valuable. She is extremely smart, and will go up to the road, get the paper out of the tube and put it in your hand for a cashew nut. Usually she is a lot of fun to be around, but last night she wore my patience a little thin, but it caused me to think about one of my uncle Ben’s favorite hunting stories, but not so, my dad Everett's.

My Uncle Ben used to spend a lot of time hunting with the Indian boys from the Laytonville Indian reservation, and they didn’t hunt with dogs, but spent a great deal of time sneaking up on their prey. One day when my dad and Uncle Ben were kids, Uncle Ben was telling dad that the Indians never hunted up wind of a deer, and that they would gather up dust in their hand and then let it sift down to see which way the dust blew to find the direction of the wind. They hunted in complete silence and they took great care to not step on a twig or so much as rustle a leaf. They would not shoot the deer until they had sneaked as close as they could get, because they never had the dogs to track the deer, they needed to make a clean kill so the deer wouldn’t get away.

My dad was of the opinion that was no big deal, and he could sneak up on a deer and cut its throat before it even knew that he was there. Well, of course, that becomes a bet between brothers. So, dad spent a great deal of time sharpening his pocketknife and testing it by shaving the hair on his arm. They made a lot better knives back then than we have now. When he was completely satisfied that his knife was sharp from one end to the other, he carefully folded it and put it back in his pocket. Early the next morning my dad and uncle got up and went up the hill on the family ranch to find a deer to sneak-up on. Dad carefully chose his victim by location and what he figured would be his best opportunity to approach the deer without being detected. He spent most of the morning sneaking up on the poor deer, while my uncle hid and watched. It was important to my dad that he would have a witness to his great prowess. According to Uncle Ben, dad sneaked up the creek bank behind the edge of the berm, while every now and then carefully parting the grass to peek at the victim to make sure that it was still in position. When dad got up close to the deer that was eating acorns under a rather large oak tree. He carefully sneaked up behind the tree and hid behind it. The deer sensed that there was something amiss, but was not bothered enough to give up those good acorns lying on the ground. Dad spent about five minutes getting his pocketknife out, and opened it while being super quite. He waited until he had his mind all set to what he was going to do. Then like a cat, he sprung from behind the tree and attacked the deer. The deer reared up on his hind legs and slapped the liven’ crap out of him with its front hooves, knocked him down and pounced on him repeatedly. Dad sensed that he still had an opportunity to get the deer; he looked around for his razor sharp pocketknife, and found it closed over his fingers as the deer ran away.

Needless to say, dad was not nearly as glad to have a witness as he thought he was going to be. My uncles story was not doubted in the least, because dad had hoof marks all over him and his fingers were bandaged from the knife cuts. Maybe kids back then would have been better off if they had just had a TV.

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