I grew up in the Missouri Ozark
Mountains and let me tell you we were (and some say
still are) a clannish group when it came to hunting.
All of our best hunting spots were kept secret from
"outsiders" and we rarely spoke of what we
knew. Oh, we might have shared a location with a
family member, but that was about it. See, back in
those days we used the game we got to supplement our
meat for the table and it was taken seriously. Most
than once I was sent into the woods for meat with only
a handful of shells and I was expected to bring back
one animal at the expense of one shell. Now, that help
me become a better shot and over all a better hunter.
I have to learn to get close enough or have the animal
come near enough for a killing shot the first time.
However, I’m getting off track here a might.
I can remember one hunting trip a few
years back that was a lot of fun, but only for us and
not our visitors. The snow was falling with big
flakes, but the wind was mild, so it was a lazy kind
of snowfall. We were in our deer hunting camp back in
a thick group of cedar trees. Our luck had been so bad
that only one small buck was hanging from an old oak
Adding a log to the dying fire I
glanced around and asked no one in particular,
"You see anything today?"
Bubba looked over at me, gave me a
goofy grin and replied, "I saw some rabbits, a
squirrel, but no deer. I think they knew the bad
weather was comin’ and bedded down for a
"Bubba," Uncle Ben said as
he raised his cup of coffee to his lips, "you
don’t don’t know fetch from come heah when it
comes to deer. Son, you have to almost step on a deer
to find one even in perfect weather."
Bubba, deeply insulted by this attack
from Ben, turned red in the face and quickly responded
with, "Now, Uncle Ben, that jes’ ain’t true.
I’ve got a deer every year, except back in
Ben chuckled, glanced around at all of
us, and then said, "You call that button buck you
got last year a deer? Heck fire, son, I got dogs
bigger than that deer you got."
"Uncle Ben, a deer is a
deer." I quickly added because I didn’t want a
verbal fight taking place with the bad weather moving
in. All I needed was two men mad and I’d be forced
to spend a hunting trip with their bad attitudes.
These men were all relatives and difficult enough to
spend a lot of time with without them starting a
fight. Don’t misunderstand me I loved‘em all, but
my goodness they could sure stretch my endurance at
times. I often thought they were like a bunch of kids
when it came to hunting and "bragging" was
the worst of it all.
"No, not all deer are created
equal." Ben stated as soon as he’d sipped his
luke-warm coffee from his cup, "Now you take that
eight point buck I got last year, now that was a
"Ben, you hit it with your truck
and that don’t count." Bubba quick erupted.
"Well, as Gary said a minute ago,
a deer is a deer."
"But, you said they were not all
created equal!" Willy threw out quickly and I was
surprised, because my man rarely ever spoke. I’d
only seen him excited once and that was when the
henhouse caught on fire.
"They ain’t all created equal.
And, how I got that deer last year don’t matter, the
fact is I got it."
At that point a huge mobile home
pulled up the road and drove into the grass. I was
amazed at the size of the thing and wondered how much
a big thing like that would cost a fellow. I knew it
was not cheap and the television antenna alone gave me
the hint, not to mention the pure size.
Outsiders." Ben said with disgust as he looked
the mobile home over closely.
Now, I guess I should explain that an
outsider was anyone who was not from our part of the
country and one of us. I’d seen folks from the next
town considered an outsider when it came to hunting.
But, this mobile home had a big sticker on the front
window that indicated it was from the big city of
Saint Louis, and as far as we were concerned they were
serious outsiders. I mean, they were from the big city
The door to the mobile home opened and
a middle-aged man with a pot-belly got out and walked
toward our fire. I noticed right off he was a big man
and he seemed as healthy as a horse. He appeared
friendly enough, but he was dressed very well for a
deer hunter. He was wearing camouflage coveralls, had
a wide brimmed hat on, and was wearing some kind of
fancy boots that looked light-weight and expensive to
me. What surprised me was all of his camouflage all
matched and was of the same design. Heck most of us
had a mismatched bunch of gear on and I would have had
to work hauling hay all summer just to pay for his
boots most likely. He for sure stood out.
"Hello, my name is James and
I’m looking for a good deer hunting spot." The
big man spoke as he introduced himself.
"Ain’t no deer ‘round heah."
Ben shot back and then quickly added,
"I see," James said as he
grinned and continued, "that’s why you have one
hanging from that oak tree, huh?"
"Fluke, that one was." Ben
added quickly and I knew he was getting defensive with
"I think we’ll stay here and
hunt this place." James spoke and then turned
back toward his mobile home.
"Doggone it! Now you’ve done
it!" Ben spoke in an angry voice as he looked at
Bobby Dale and quickly pointed out, "You’ve got
your deer hangin’ in that oak!"
Bobby Dale gave a twisted grin and
replied, "Uncle Ben, I’ve been using that tree
for over twenty years and now you tell me I ain’t
suppose to use it? What in the world is the matter
"Well, that feller saw your deer
Bobby Dale and he knows there are deer in the area
"Hill fire, Ben, any man with any
woods sense at all would know from just one scoutin’
trip there are deer here." Bubba said and then
placed the coffee pot back on the fire to start a
We spent the whole afternoon looking
at the closed up mobile home and dreaming of owning
such a comfortable hunting shelter. See, we roughed it
mostly. We used tarp for a tent, slept under some wool
blankets (though Bobby Dale was rich by our standards
he had a sleeping bag), and got by with very little
gear. The snow continued to fall and by night there
was a good six inches of it on the ground. The
temperature dropped suddenly as the sun went down and
I suspected it was well below zero by six that
At about seven James walked up to our
campsite with a bottle of booze in his hand and
offered us a drink. Now, while most of us did a little
drinking now and then, we never had a drink on any
hunting trip. We knew it was dangerous and we had
rules about no booze on our trips. If a feller wanted
to drink, well, he stayed home and did his drinking.
"We don’t drink when we hunt,
but thank you anyway." Ben spoke as he wrapped
his wool blanket around his shoulders tightly against
"Heck, son, a good nip is what
you need on a night like this." James added
quickly and gave us a drunken grin.
"Thanks for the offer, but
we’ll pass." Ben spoke to end the conversation
and he did.
As James walked back to his mobile
home, Ben grinned and looked at all of us as he said,
"They won’t get no deer, not if they’re up
late drinkin’. Tomorrow is the last day of the
season and I’ll bet you they get drunk tonight and
sleep in come morning. If so, well, I have a trick to
play on them outsider boys in that big mobile
The next morning the sun was peeking
over the cedars as we all moved toward our tree
stands. Of course, Ben had been right and not a sound
came from the mobile home. The weather had warmed up
and while the snow still covered the ground, we all
knew it would be gone by the next day. The deer,
hungry from being bedded down during the storm, were
up and moving, so my mid-morning we’d all filled out
It was near noon before the door of
the mobile home opened and out stepped James along
with two other fellers. Now, them boys looked rough
for wear and I suspected all three of them were
nursing some serioius hangovers, but I said nothing,
after all it was none of my business.
The three of them walked to our
campsite, noticed the new deer hanging in the oak and
James said, "Looks like you fellers got
Well, I knew there was very little
luck involved, mostly good preseason scouting and a
lot of backwoods skill, but I kept my mouth shut.
"Got ‘em right here and never
had to leave camp." Willy said with a grin as he
poured himself a cup of what Bubba called coffee.
"What do you mean?" Asked
James as he glanced around at all of us with his eyes
full of surprise.
"Why them deer were all around
your mobile home this morning as the sun came
up." Uncle Ben quickly threw out, though I knew
he was lying about it, because we’d killed those
deer a good mile from the camp.
"Really?" One of the men
with James asked.
"Sure," said Ben as he stood
and then he continued with, "and if you’ll come
with me, I’ll show you the tracks."
We all made our way to the mobile home and all
around the vehicle was deer tracks and there must have
been a thousand of ‘em. I knew they were there,
because we’d put them there as soon as we’d
returned to our campsite. We had decided to keep them
boys near their mobile home and away from our game.
All it took was four legs from Willy’s deer and
we’d made all kinds of tracks. I don’t suspect
James and his men were very experienced hunters
though, because they never noticed our foot prints
beside the deer tracks in the snow.
An hour later, as we loaded up our deer in the back
of our pickup trucks, I noticed James and his men
sitting on top of that mobile home waiting for the
deer to return. The temperature had dropped once more
and it began to look like more snow. As far as I know
them fellers are still on top of that mobile home,
waiting for the deer to come back.
* * * *
Gary grew up in South and speaks fluent
Redneckeze. He is proud of his southern heritage and
lets his writing and cartooning speak for him. He
enjoys writing and illustrating a tongue in cheek view
of Dixie Land called, Bubba Lee. Gary works as a
freelance writer and cartoonist.
Read more about Gary Benton at his website "Bubba
Lee Online." You can order Gary’s new Southern
Humor Book,"Bubba’s Dawg Might be a
Redneck," at Barnes