22 March 2010

I first met Dale and Sheila Jones when they moved to Prattville , Alabama in the1980s. He became employed by the local paper mill as an engineer. We developed a strong friendship over a period of time. Dale was a physical specimen of a man in every way. He had worked in the coal mines in his home state along with various other jobs in his youth. His father owned a car dealership in his home town. He was a person of strong convictions, morally and spiritually. They lived for some time in his father camper, along with a large dog. Then Matthew, their first born son, came to live with them in that very small space. After some time had passed they moved into a house north of Posey’s Crossroads in Autauga County. As you may guess, Dale and I began telling one another stories about our experiences in hunting deer and turkey. Here are a couple of true stories that Dale related to me.

This is one thing I truly hate about hunting deer in the early morning hours. I anticipate that alarm clock going off and I awake a dozen times before it goes off and am happy when it comes time for me to get out of bed. Well, Dale, being a novice in this matter of deer hunting, listened carefully to the experienced hunters and so he set his alarm clock for 4:00 a.m. He awoke and put on all his heavy clothing because in the mountains of West Virginia the weather gets very cold and icy in the winter time. And then he eats a bite of food, gets out of his tent and goes a short distance and sits himself down right there on the top of the steep ridge (we might call it a mountain). I said to Dale, “Wait a minute, are you saying that you were already in the deer woods?” He replied that he had left the evening before and hiked into the mountains to be on the back side of the reservation so he could be ahead of the hunters the next morning. He felt like the hunters walking in the woods toward him would surely move some deer his way. I said, “You mean to tell me that you were already where you wanted to be in the woods for the morning hunt?” He said “yes”. I asked “why then did you set the alarm clock for 4:00 a.m. if you were already where you wanted to be?” He softly replied, “That’s when the other hunters told me to set it.” I couldn’t help but laugh aloud at my good friend.

Dale continued this story about his early deer hunting experiences by relating that as he sat there on the side of the mountain waiting for the deer to come running toward him, he said that he caught movement in his peripheral vision and lo and behold he saw a hunter coming from back of him and walking toward the hollow below. It was only a short time before he saw other hunters coming from behind where he sat and moving toward the hollow. What he had not realized when he arrived the evening before was that he pitched his tent near the entrance to the reservation on the other side. And there he sat while dozens of other hunters entered the woods looking for deer. If I remember, it seems that he told me he got up and left for home. I thought I would pass out laughing at my dear friend.

A RIDDLE OF SORTS (With apologies to Samson, Judges 14:14)
“Out of the buck came a gobble,
From the carcass of a deer
Came forth fowl meat.”
My West Virginia mountaineer friend told this true tale of going deer hunting in the mountains of West Virginia with some friends. They made their camp and then separated to stalk a trophy buck that would look great mounted over the mantle and fireplace. Dale said that he had gone a long way from the camp in this new territory and eventually spotted a nice size buck. He shot and killed the buck but the trouble began when the deer rolled down the side of the mountain. He found the buck and saw that it had 10 points which pleased Dale very much. He field dressed the deer and began dragging it up the mountain side. He succeeded and was exerting himself dragging the heavy animal. You might not believe it but he saw a wild turkey gobbler so he shot it also. So, now he has a large deer to drag and a gobbler to carry, along with his rifle. Even this very strong man had a real problem on his hands. What was he to do? To solve this problem he stuffed the turkey inside the cavity of the deer and now he could use both arms to drag the deer; but, there was another problem presenting itself to my friend Dale. Darkness was coming and Dale was not sure where he was in relation to the campsite. He found an indenture in the side of the mountain and placed the deer and the turkey there for safe keeping until he could return later. He eventually found his campsite and friends. He related the story that I have just shared with you but they were not impressed and manifested a real disbelief of their friend’s tale of him killing a buck and a gobbler on the same day. It was not until the next morning that he convinced a hunting buddy to go with him to search for his trophies and finally after a long hike they came upon the turkey that was stuffed in the stomach cavity of the deer. End of story.
But wait, I must pass on to you the kind of entertainment that Dale and his friends enjoyed from time to time. He informed me that on some Saturday nights they would go down to a particular church building and slip around to watch those religious mountaineers handle rattlesnakes. And you thought going to the movies on Saturday nights was exciting.