“So where did you hit the deer?” asked Byron, wondering if my hunting story would ever get finished so he could start his.
“Well, I didn’t find that out until much later. After I saw the deer floating out in Rogers Lake, I had to figure out how to get it out. Marv and I had done some fishing that summer at the lake when we worked the afternoon shift at Dresser plastic factory and Dad didn’t have any morning jobs on the farm.”
“That job at UFE was pretty boring. We sat at the hand plastic molding press, with the cement block wall right behind the machine and used our arms to close the mold, swing over the very hot injector, lock it in place, wait a short time, then swing it back and open the mold, all day long, a straight eight hour shift with 10 minutes for a break and sandwich,” commented Marv.
“Yeah it was 100 degrees in the building. I remember we each were allowed a fan – that helped a little. Got $1.35 per hour – about $50 per week to save for college. Think we worked there for 3 months – must have made about $600 – about half of the college cost, “ I added.
“I worked at Stokely’s every summer during college,” said Ev, “got about twice that much with the 90 hour weeks and higher pay. Enough to pay for a year of college. And I was so tired of 7 days a week and long hours, even college looked good to me by September.”
“Do you remember when we went on strike?” added Dad, who also worked one summer and part time other summers on the field crew at Stokely’s too.
“Get back to the deer story,” complained Byron.
“Well, I walked down along Wolf Creek, walked across at the big beaver dam and found Marv hunting on his 40.”
“I had my 55 Chev Belair, that I earned from working at the Nelson Pea Viner when I was 16 parked at Grandpa’s house. Figured we might be lucky and Mack Fors’ boat would still be at the lake, so we drove up, opened Uncle Marice’s gate and back to the top of the hill where I parked it.”
“Probably where Rogers’ Hotel was located. All that is left is a hole in the ground and a lilac bush. When Dad bought it the building was still standing. Big wide old white pine boards. We tore it down and I used some of it in fixing up the barn on the farm,” said Dad referring it his father who had originally bought Uncle Maurice’s farm on Rogers Lake.
“Did you know Thomas Rogers was killed by being gored by a bull? His kids divided up the land, several hundred acres, and Clara, who married Charles Marriette, moved down the creek and built the buildings where Grandpa Gene lives now,” said local historian Russ.
“We scrambled down the snowy hill to the edge of the lake. Mac’s old boat was there tipped upside down with the oars under it. We got it launched along the trail of old boards that sort of made a path through the thick cattails to the edge of the lake. I remember if was froze over along the edge, but most of it was still open. We sort of shoved an oared it out to the open water and then rowed out to the middle where the buck was floating high in the water, looped a rope over his horns and started rowing back when we noticed the boat was leaking pretty badly.”
“Yah, you gotta put those old wood boats in the water for a week to swell up before you use them every spring or they leak like a sieve,” commented Dad. “We used to saw out some thin ½ inch basswood planks for boats when I was a kid and my dad had his big sawmill. Big wide planks for the sides and a flat bottom with a few ribs. Could make one in a day even with hand tools. They were light, watertight after they swelled up, and lasted several years if you painted them and kept them in the water all summer.”
“There was an old coffee can in the bottom, so Russ bailed while I rowed as fast as I could until we got on the shore. By then we had both stepped into the lake edges and our boots were soaking wet inside, and it was really cold outside too.”
“I remember we dragged it up on the shore to hard ground on the hillside and you did the gutting,” I said. “You had done it before, and I hadn’t. I remember the deer insides were warm, and felt good to my frozen wet fingers.”
“So where did you shoot it?” asked Ev.
“It was really odd” said Marv, “no bullet holes in the deer at all, and even when we skun it out later, no holes in the skin. Almost like the deer died of a heart attack from seeing Russ whale away with his gun.”
“It was all bled out inside, so it was hit good. Just no entry or exit wound. We didn’t find a bullet inside either, but we didn’t really look through the guts and we left the heart, lungs, and innards,” I said.
“It was decent sized 6 point buck. Sort of short fork, but husky horns” said Ev who every Sunday sat at the dinner table at Mom’s across from the mounted deer horns on the wall.
“So did you ever get a theory on how you shot it?” asked Byron.
“Yes, you remember how I told you that when I shot, the buck sort of jumped in the air did a bunch of gyrations and twisting around before taking off after I shot him from the rear? Well, I think I shot him right in the bung hole, and with his gyrations the bullet went right up through the twists and turns of his intestines, into the stomach and then out into the heart, where it probably lodged. Only way I match the lack of holes and the inside damage. Probably that doesn’t happen every day, but that is what happened.”
“Do you remember the big buck I shot on the sand – back in ’67,” began Byron, before the rest of the folks could digest the bullet story.