Steve had a blue tarp and two doe tags so we were certain that when he returned we would know. When he split down 425 in his late-model red Silverado, the mud from last night’s rain gave way and the new ruts stretched over the rise as dawn broke. Nothing to do but wait – wait and maybe rake some leaves or clear some gutters, maybe check the glazing on the storms – maybe knock back a few Grain Bins later on.
Lyman rolled up about five. Said he saw Steve down by the slough gutting a yearling about an hour before, so we should stay put. I dropped the last warm pull on a Grain Bin and threw the can into the firepit. Sure as shit, Steve pulled in and swung that pickup onto the grass and got out of the cab slow, dark-eyed, pensive. Without a word, he dropped the tailgait and there it was, flop tongued on the tarp, russet and clean-shot through a lung. “Gimme a hand fella’s”.
Lyman and I each took a corner or the tarp and pulled. What was once a nimble bounding thing felt like eight bags of mulch or cement or compost. Steve slipped in and took the other end of tarp and we eased the yearling down to the ground. He pulled his Uncle Buck from its sheath and clipped the blade open. First he stroked the yearling’s now cold neck and paused. He spit out a plug and cut a long deep line down the length of its back, next to the spine, and with his fingers pried the gash open, revealing a quarter inch of glistening fat – white – like ice, snow and foul wind. “It’s gonna be a hard winter, boys.”
We hung the carcass in the shed, lit a fire, and thought on these things.
Image: Gary Bendig on Unsplash