This is one of Molly’s favorite bedtime stories. It happened last hunting season and involves a very good friend of The Simple Farm.
Late one Saturday night I was sitting around watching a football game when I got a call from Barnabas.
“What cha doing?” he said.
I responded “Nothing, just watching a football game.”
“Wanna come help me chase down a deer?” asked Barnabas.
“What do you mean, chase down a deer? You going to try and run some deer over with your truck?” I replied.
Barnabas said “I just shot the biggest deer I have ever attempted to shoot, with my bow, and it took off into the woods behind my house.”
Now let me explain a little bit about myself before I go on. I am not a hunter. I have never tracked a deer in daylight let alone in the middle of the night. Neither do I profess to have any super scent sniffer nor any real desire to tromp around the woods chasing after some wounded animal in the pitch black.
But it did sound intriguing as is usual when Barnabas is involved.
“I could use your help. I’m bringing Betty (wife), Curly Sue (eight year old daughter), a niece and two nephews. And I think I could use another hand to haul this humongous deer out of the woods.”
I started thinking. Surely I could be as useful as Curly Sue since she was only eight years old. I guess I must have had that I’m-going-to-get-in-trouble grin on my face. Milly started bracing for the worst as I said “Sure, I’ll come. What do I need to bring?”
After getting the required materials list (flashlight, batteries, camera, chocolate, etc.,) I got off the phone and looked over at Milly.
I started off nice and calm. “Sweetie, I’m going to help Barnabas out. He’s in dire need of another pair of hands.”
“Huh, I’m going to bed." said Milly "It’s already ten o'clock and you’re probably going to be out all night.” .
“No way. I’ll go for just an hour or so then come home. I promise,” I said.
Milly rolled her eyes and prophesied. "This is going to be an all night event that ends with someone getting their fingers chewed off by a rabies-infected raccoon."
Little did I know how close her “this is crazy” premonition would turn out.
So I got on my bright blue waterproof pants since it looked like rain and jetted over to Barney & Betty’s house.
They were just pulling out to head off into the jungles of Northern Montana and I was just in time. I jumped in the back of the Toyota truck with the other naive participants and we headed off.
Barney drove around the corner, across the street, and parked the truck. I guess he didn’t want us all crossing the street in the middle of the night.
“This is the woods you were talking about?” I said. “Did you shoot the beast while you were taking a bath? I was expecting a little more out in the woods, not in the middle of town.”
Now to be fair to Barnabas, there is a big hill out back of his place that is covered in trees and brush and I guess you could consider it woodsy. There certainly were a lot of deer around that area. I was just expecting a longer journey to the happy hunting grounds.
We jumped out of the truck and headed over to where Barnabas thought he hit his ginormous deer. Being cautious not to contaminate the crime scene we crept along looking for the prize skewered jerky. We didn’t see any evidence at first to corroborate Barnabas’s wild tale but we did find an arrow stuck in the ground. He claimed he shot and missed on his first attempt.
Fanning out with our tribe of seven with flashlights in hand we finally found the target site. There was quite a bit of blood around and we could see the trail heading off into the “woods”.
So all seven of us started running frantically and aimlessly into the outback thinking we were going to find a dead deer right on the other side of the bushes. Nope. Couldn’t be that lucky. We followed that bloody trail for another 4 hours. Down hills, over tree stumps, up the same hill, back around the river and finally we spotted the survivor still trucking along a little distressed but really quite healthy looking. There’s no proof of how big this deer was and my imagination seems to remember things a little exaggerated on occasion but I’d say it was a very solid four point spiker. Just kidding Barnabas. It was a fairly large animal. We’ll leave it at that.
We backed off and thought we’d wait a few minutes as it had to be slowing down seeing that our motley crew somehow caught up with it. So we waited for about fifteen minutes thinking the night was coming to an end and then started following the trail again. About two minutes into starting up again we lost the blood trail. I think an alien must have come and got the animal and took it home. We looked everywhere. We couldn’t find anything.
After another hour of tracking, back tracking, cussing, praying, and yelling at each other, Betty and the girls gave up and went home. Barnabas, myself and the nephews stayed to keep looking. We finally came to a bunch of trees and we heard something rustling around in the trees. It sounded like an animal breathing heavy or moving slowly. So I quite bravely suggested we take a look.
I started leading the group into the fairly thick set of trees when I said “I sure hope we don’t get eaten by a bear.”
Just as I said that we heard a “HEWWAAGGGHHHHOGGIEBOGGIEEWAAAAAAAAAAAA” bellow. It was loud and sounded vicious. I swear it sounded like we were going to get eaten by a bear or taken up into that alien space ship.
I’m not too proud to admit that although I was the first one in the trees I was also the first one out. I’m pretty sure I pulled one of Barnabas’s nephews down, stomped on his stomach, and left him to get eaten (in the bedtime story Barnabas jumps over the trees and I spit flames at the noise.)
After getting out of that dark and scary tree stand we stood around huffing and puffing from our exerted efforts.
"What in the world was that?" Barnabas asks.
Grateful there were no hidden video cameras to see my hasty exit from the trees, I replied "Either a bear or a very mad deer."
“Somebody pushed me down and stepped on my stomach” complained one of the nephews.
Not wanting to push our luck we decided to turn in for the night. How many times can you look death in the face and get away with it? I was sure we were pretty close to having our arms torn off by a bear or fingers eaten by a rabies-infested raccoon.
Just as we started walking up the worn path I decided to peek around the the end of the tree stand and I tentatively shined the flashlight over in the direction of that vicious roar.
And there in the pasture was a little old brown donkey and five horses.
“Remind me again how big that deer was Barnabas?” I asked. “Surely it will be worth the mocking and ridicule we are going to get from this adventure.”
“It was the biggest darn deer I’ve ever shot at,” said Barnabas.
“How many deer have you actually shot at with your bow, Barnabas?” I demanded.
“Well, this is actually the first deer I’ve shot at with my bow but it was a very big one,” Barnabas admitted.
We never did track down that nine point gigantic deer so to this day it’s probably still roaming around the back streets of Kalispell or maybe its riding around the universe making crop circles with alien friends.
But at least we now know what noise a huge ferocious donkey makes when crept up on in the middle of the night. We did see a porcupine walking back to the truck but I'm pretty sure it didn't have rabies.
After recreating the tale for Betty and letting her know how brave we were against such a gruesome animal it was time to head home.
I dragged myself into bed around 3 am and Milly rolled over and said, “You should have listened to your wife.”