Kimberly M. Blaeser
“We got that deer way up by Strawberry Mountain, skinned it, butchered it, and packed it out, all the way back to Twin Lakes. I remember thinking how much warmer I felt wrapped in that deer meat. But it weren’t vury long ‘fore it began to feel awfully heavy. Jeezus we was sure happy to get home that night. All youse little kids woke up and wanted to eat right then.”
We sit at the old man’s table. I trace the knife cuts in the oil cloth as he talks. His hands remember that journey in the air. His chin, his lips, know the directions. I see the dance in his cloudy eyes and hear him laugh at the memory of that feast. “How-wah, we sure took the wrinkle out of our bellies that night!”
We hunt this way together often now. We clean and oil the guns, sharpen the knives. He brings a new box of shells out of the kitchen cabinet. (Good thing about being a bachelor he always said—you can keep your bullets handy.) We make us a lunch. He shuffles around the trailer, breathing pretty hard as he gets dressed. I pretend not to notice the way he has to lift his bad leg with his hand to get it into the boot. We sit down to a cup of coffee before going out. It’s still dark and too early anyway.
“Wonder if you could show me how to make snares.”
He answers in that way that he has. Gesturing with his neck and chin, his head bopping slightly, a throaty series of ahhs, and then a long drawn out “Well, sure I kin show you. You know what pitcher wire is?” I bring him things from here and there about the trailer. He shows me each of his tools, remembers just what he used to use and how he came to get the ones he has now. By the time I get the hang of the cutting, the tying, the sun’s been up a while.
“Well lookit that. Them deer musta wondered what heppened to us. Spose they’re out there looking at their clocks saying, ‘Where is that ole hunter?’ Jeez, what kind of hunter you gonna make, if you forget all about going out? I spose you gonna hunt just like my girls—out of my freezer. Well we mighd’s well eat