Joe was a die-hard goose hunter who hunted deer once a year to prove he could. Deer just didn’t do it for him. But like most of us, he had a healthy penchant for pride and socializing, and so he was a member of our deer lease.
Before the dawn of another opening day all the guys met up near the gate to ingest the requisite dose of pre-vigil camaraderie and caffeine.
“Yep, boys, only a trophy buck for me this year, or I’m not shooting. Outside the ears, ten points or better,” said Joe as he smeared a fresh film of essence de’ skunk about his face. His blaze orange blinded us when someone swept him with a flashlight.
I was 14 and hadn’t claimed any buck yet, so I appreciated this bid of sportsmanship because I knew it upped my chances at a 9-point or lesser.
Two mornings later we met again. By then the ranks had dwindled, having been vacated by the good and the lucky. Overall, the enthusiasm had waned slightly, but the various shades of red eyes were yet un-muddled by the whites of surrender.
“Well, boys, any racked buck and I’m tagging out,” said Joe, rubbing his tender backside. His duds were now dingy, his brow furled with purpose. Just then a gaggle of geese honked overhead in the darkness as it raced the cold air south to the Tishomingo refuge where he often killed them. He looked up longingly.
A couple long mornings later, as I closed the gate, I spied Joe racing his own dust down the road, so I held it open. He looked like Merle Haggard at tour’s end.
“I figured you tagged one yesterday when you weren’t here early, Joe,” I said as he wheeled inside the gate and groped for his gun.
“Hell no,” he said, as another wave of geese flew over us in the darkness, “but the first @*!&#% animal I see is going down!”
Then, with a deranged look in his eye, he pointed his rifle skyward toward the sound of the geese. Then he eyeballed me and said, “We could be hunting them!” I was disappointed when he held his fire.
Full story: The Best Little Hunt in America