(It has been a very busy season, so I pulled up an old column written back in 2012 that I truly enjoyed writing. I hope you enjoy it as well.)
I love fish stories. But down in our part of south Louisiana our fish stories are often deer stories. Every kill brings with it its own great story. These stories, like fish stories, grow over time, but that only makes them better. I love to read the captions under the pictures in our newspaper of children who have had their first kill. Their little faces are beaming as they hold up the head of the dead animal.
A New Yorker traveling in our neck of the woods who stumbled upon this would find it the most morbid thing they have ever seen. So, I guess we shouldn't tell the horrified Yankees that part of the ritual is to smear blood on the child as a rite of passage. Yeah, you don't hear many fish stories like that.
I love to hear these stories that I have listened to since childhood. But the stories I enjoy the most are the ones told by young men who have had their first kill. Yes, young girls get all excited and want to tell you how it happened, but it is purely a guy thing to relish in every description, every sound, the weather, the beast, right where the gun was when the animal walked up. Boys can go on and on about this one event. But if you ask a boy how his day at school went you will get a one syllable response, "Fine."
Recently, I was with my friend visiting her sister; Her son, Julian, 11, had just killed his first deer. I know this because he carried the deer head outside to the driveway to show us. It was still bloody and resting on a paper bag. It was gloriously disgusting and we loved hearing every moment of his story.
He told us how the deer walked out then walked back into the woods. He told us how he shot at it and missed because his scope was off its aim. He told us how he shot again and hit it but it ran off leaving a blood trail that they later found which led them to his first deer. I asked him if he had gotten deer fever. He said that he had. He showed me how his hands were shaking and the gun was shaking but nevertheless the eight point was now his to eat and display.
The next morning two of my students reported each killing their first six point. One of the boys showed me how his hand was shaking so bad he couldn't dial the numbers to tell his mom. The other boy told me how the deer looked right at him before he shot. How dramatic! I relayed a secret a seasoned hunter recently told me. If you walk up on a deer you have shot and its eyes are closed, it is still living. A deer that is truly dead will always have its eyes open.
Man, we are some morbid people down here. I have a strong feeling that our celebrated hunting season which is drawing to an end is a cultural thing that is not shared in urban regions. I could be wrong. Cities have their share of action. It's just not staged on a deer stand ten feet high with young man versus beast, or is it Bambi?
After I wrote this column in 2012 the response led to many more columns on our celebrated hunting seasons down south. I even accidentally wrote about a ten point Clay had walked up on, detailing the exact spot. Needless to say, he never saw that deer again and his hunting buddies have never let him live it down. And needless to say, Clay no longer tells me of these events.