Lauren’s First Deer

I thought it was a steaming pile of excrement, but in actuality it was a small coiled mound of intestine.  We’d been tracking small drops of blood through the woods for probably a hundred yards, which isn’t the fastest process, but can be really fun when you pick up a steady trail.  I didn’t know what to make of the pile so I just told her to keep going.  Another twenty five yards of following metallic red spots through the leaves and we found another pile of innards.  Here we found the rest of the intestines, a slimy shade of purple.  With a stick she stirred the guts and uncovered two small kidney shaped organs.  Maybe they were lungs, she said, but that didn’t make sense.  I hadn’t been hunting long enough to know how to explain the peculiar series of events that was occurring before us.  I’d never heard her dad or her brother or Brooks mention anything like this and combined they’d taught me everything I knew about hunting.  I felt certain if something like this had happened to them I would have heard about it while sitting in the box stand or riding around in the truck or cleaning our rifles on the sofa at school.  I was excited that we now had a story of our own to tell her dad and her brother and Brooks.

Her oversized coveralls didn’t stop her from running through the woods.  She ducked under branches, swung around trees using her hands and jumped fallen limbs, sensing that her prize was near.  Her excitement made me smile and filled my heart with the joy of living and loving.  Another twenty five yards stopped us dead in our tracks and my happiness turned dark.  At this point the sun had fallen below the hill and while there was still plenty of light out in the field, it was beginning to grow frigid in the trees.  Yet even in the faint light of dusk, it was impossible to miss the gigantic fleshy mass before us.  It was about the size of a plastic grocery bag and had a mustardy tint beneath the coating of blood.  Stomach? she hypothesized.  My thoughts had turned cynical with the setting of the sun.  I’d heard about coyotes, bobcats and bear deep in the woods around here and concluded that something must have jumped her kill while it ran injured and bleeding.  Maybe the predators were close by tearing apart the skin and muscle, ready to pounce upon us if they felt threatened by our presence.  But my fears were shattered by her jubilant cry – Over there!  She sprinted past me and on another ten yards down the trail.  Lying there in the leaves was Lauren’s first deer, a small doe with blood covered legs and a softball sized exit wound near the underside of her crotch.

From the box stand.

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