02 April 2009

It was back in the 1970s that I was in a gospel meeting with the church in Quincy , Florida when I met a gentleman by the name of Denny who was the overseer of The Hav-A-Tampa Tobacco Plantation that consisted of some 1300 acres. Only 80 acres were used for raising tobacco but at a cost of about $4, 000 per acre to prepare and plant the crop. This acreage was surrounded by woods that were just beautiful without any under brush. Denny told me that he would take me out about three o’clock one afternoon to see the deer that would come out of the woods and into the rye that was planted on the 80 acres in the off season. I couldn’t believe the number of deer that came out to feast on the lush green rye. I began holding my right hand over my heart and acting like Red Fox and saying that I was about to have a big one upon seeing so many deer. I told him that there were too many deer and that they would get a disease and die and many other stories to try to get him to invite me to hunt on this Promised Land loaded with deer and turkey. Denny said that he would call me when the Florida deer hunting season opened in the fall and invite me to come down to hunt. To say that I was delighted and excited would be an understatement.

Of course I obtained a copy of the Florida hunting schedule and when deer season came in I expected to hear from my new friend Denny. But I did not hear a word from him so I wrote him a nice letter. The following is similar to the one I wrote:

Deer Denny, I do hope you and your deer family are well. My deer family is enjoying good health at the present time. It was so good to be with the deer brothers and sisters of the Quincy congregation. And it was a joy to make acquaintances with many others who have become deer friends of mine. It is good that my deer brothers here will permit me to be away from the local congregation. I do look forward to being with you and your deer family sometimes in the future. I wish for you a good day. Your deer friend, Raymond

It was not very long before I received a telephone call from Denny. When I answered, all I could hear was laughter. I asked him why he was laughing and he said that he had just received my letter. The reason he gave as to why I had not heard from him was that he had to have an emergency appendectomy. Needless to say, my good and deer friend asked me to come down and hunt on the land flowing with deer and turkey.
When I arrived at this deer infested plantation I found me a nice tree late in the afternoon and climbed up about 15 feet. Sometimes I do get a feeling like I might have monkeys somewhere back in my ancestry. But, anyway, there I sat and hearing deer a-walking in the woods behind me a-heading for the rye field. Does by the dozen came and began to feed. Then I heard a loud noise like a 200-pound deer breaking a limb. I knew that ole 7-point buck was on his way. So, the waiting game was really going by fast this time. Out came a small doe, then a nice spike and then here came the 7 point buck – within one hour of my arrival – and only 100 yards removed from the end of my trusty rifle. So I laid them crosshairs of my scope behind the shoulder of this big buck wearing my nametag and fired off a shot that should have bagged him. But all he did was to bolt and hightail it for the woods. I nearly lost my footing and plunged to the ground below in unbelief.

Why I had that rile sighted in for 150 yards. You could have shot the eye out of a gnat at that distance (well, maybe). That deer had been reserved for me and I had missed my chance of costing the wife some big money for a shoulder mount. Well I waited and while plenty of lady deer came around and snorted at me, not one other buck showed his antlers. Finally with about 30 minutes of daylight left I got down out of the tree and walked through the beautiful virgin timber (with no underbrush) to another field. And standing out there in the open about 100 yards away was a nice 6-point buck. This time I aimed high on the shoulder and hit the deer in the stomach. Then the most frustrating thing happened – my scope fell off with the recoil of the rifle. You talk about feeling unnecessary and all that – I did. I had my rifle in one hand and my scope in the other. Furthermore the deer had not fallen. Well I had this fancy scope mount that you can see your iron sights through but that was of no avail. I put the iron sight right on that deer and shot and he just stood there. I was about to faint. Finally the deer went wobbling down into the woods where he later expired. What had gone wrong?

I discovered later that my mistake (a stupid one) had caused the whole mess. About two weeks ago before I stood my rifle by the tree where I was getting my stand down and I let the heavy tree stand slip and it hit my rifle. I thought it just hit the forearm but I was wrong. The scope had an indenture on the front of it and had been knocked loose and out of commission and the front iron sight had been damaged. Well, I paid for this mistake in a terrible way. Have you ever field dressed a deer that has been gut shot? I mean to tell you there was green stuff everywhere and I don’t mean the kind that you get when you sell tobacco.

I remember seeing a cartoon in a newspaper that pictured a cave man arriving at his home dragging a dinosaur behind him. His wife came to the opening of the cave and looked at him and the dinosaur and said, “You killed it, you clean it”. This reminds me of a verse of scripture found in Proverbs 12:27: “The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting. But diligence is man’s precious possession.”

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