I’ve personally never been a hunter. I have absolutely nothing against hunting. In fact, I believe that when properly exercised, it can serve the very useful purpose of regulating wild game populations. And since my neighborhood seems to be increasingly overrun by white tailed deer, referred to locally as “white tailed rats“, a bit of well regulated hunting here on the cul-de-sac might be just what the game warden ordered.
Even though I’m not a hunter, I do own a .22 rifle. I acquired it many years ago when I was in college. In a moment of weakness, I traded a set of really nice Koss stereo headphones for it. The good news is that during a subsequent bartering economy session, I reacquired the Koss headphones in lieu of something which I can no longer remember. I still have both the headphones and the .22 rifle. The headphones have long since been replaced by a set of ear buds and to my knowledge, the rifle has never been fired at anything other than empty beer bottles, old milk jugs filled with water, and pieces of wood standing on end. And before anyone asks, “No, it wasn’t me who shot up all of those road signs.”
Over the years, I’ve known and worked with many avid hunters. I’ve sat through countless lunchtime discussions during which these later day Allan Quatermain’s relayed tales of their latest treks through the nearest woodlands in search of elusive game.
Of all the stories that I’ve heard, only one remains with me; as vivid in my mind today as the first time I heard it. Before I relay it, I feel it necessary to warn the faint of heart that now would be the time to avert one’s eyes or better yet, turn the page. And yes, what you’re about to read actually occurred exactly as I’ll describe it.
It was a late fall afternoon in the hill country of Texas. As he tells it, my friend and his father had been out since before dawn stalking deer. Listless hours of sitting in their deer stand had yielded nothing except the occasional sighting of an armadillo. They both had resisted the temptation to take a pot shot or two at these armored oddities because they feared that the sound of their guns would scare off the deer which were almost certainly just about to crest the closest hill.
As the sun sank lower in the western Texas sky, they reluctantly gave up, having never laid eyes on a deer. Disappointed, they returned to their car for the trip home. My friend’s father, being worn out from the day’s inactivity, decided to climb into the back seat, stretch out, and take a nap. Even though the late afternoon autumn temperature was beginning to drop, he decided to leave the car’s backseat windows rolled down.
About 30 minutes into the trip, with dusk rapidly gathering and his father snoozing pleasantly in the back seat, my friend was driving down a long stretch of narrow highway. In the distance, he could see a lone tractor trailer truck barreling down the highway coming toward him.
According to my friend’s account, just seconds before the truck and his car were going to pass, his perception of time momentarily shifted into super slow motion. From the right side of the road, he saw a large deer bound out into the highway in what was to be a vain attempt to cross it safely. At the exact moment that the deer crossed the center line, it was met from it’s right by the truck and from it’s left by my friend’s car.
In a manner of speaking, and perhaps thankfully, it’s safe to say that the deer never knew what hit him. The combined speeds of the truck and car each traveling at 60+ miles per hour in opposite directions had the net effect of neatly severing the deer in mid-torso.
It would probably require an applied physicist, well versed in the laws of bodies in motion to explain what happened next. As my friend told the story, as soon as the truck and his car had passed each other, time returned to it’s normal speed and he became aware of frantic motions in the back seat accompanied by strange gurgling noises.
Pulling over to the shoulder of the road, he turned to see what was going on and found his father attempting to extricate himself from under a large mass of deer entrails. When his father’s head finally appeared out from under the deer’s viscera he said, “Dad, I told you it was too cool to roll that window down.”
I’m pleased to report that father and son have reconciled and returned to hunting together. The last time I checked, they were still looking for someone willing to make a good trade for the car.