When I was growing up, I loved to be outside and roam the woods with my dogs. Why, I’ve had just about every type of hunting dog there is. My first experience with hunting dogs was when I received a pair of beagle pups when I was 5 years old. From then on, I was hooked on hunting and training dogs. I’ve had a lot of unique experiences while hunting and have met some most interesting characters, but that’s another story.
When I was a teenager, my friends and I would rabbit hunt all day on Saturdays and coon hunt at night during the week. We kept some pretty fair dogs even though many of them were of the Hines 57 variety.
Weren’t many hunting clubs back in the ’50s and ’60s. Most landowners would let you hunt at no charge. It was about this time that deer were starting to be seen a lot along the Pee Dee River in Richmond County. I mean, these were some big deer, don’t you know! I reckon they had migrated up from South Carolina and come out of the Uwharrie mountains in Montgomery County.
Some of the men and boys in our neighborhood decided we could train our old coon dogs to run these deer. On Saturday morning, we would meet at Buck Walls Store off of Prison Camp Road and plan our day’s hunt. Some hunters brought just about any kind of dog you could think of to run deer, but to be truthful, I doubt if many of these dogs had ever seen a deer.
Our first deer hunt was definitely a learning experience. The dog drivers got tired of walking their dogs all over them river hills trying to jump a deer and decided there had to be a better way. Well, we put our heads together and came up with a plan.
Most of the public roads around the river were still dirt roads, so the day before the hunt, we would take an old Jeep, hook a set of bed springs behind and pull it up and down the sides of the roads. Early the next morning, we would ride the roads looking for deer tracks. You couldn’t shoot a doe back then, so being the trackers we were, we made sure it was a buck before the dogs were turned out on the track.
I had never killed a deer until one cold November morning, I was told to put out the standers. There had been a giant deer track spotted. I got all the standers out on their stands and pulled my old truck out of the road. Then I got out my gun — which happened to be an old Stevens double-barrel that I had borrowed from my uncle — and man, with them 30-inch barrels, it would throw buckshot. I then placed two buckshot in the barrels. Then I took my stand, which was not far off the road.
Weren’t long till I heard the dogs trailing, but the deer must have been a long ways in front, because it took them dogs two hours to jump that deer. Now, if’n you ain’t never heard a dog jump a rabbit or deer, you have missed an experience. Why, them dogs go crazy and it will bring cold chills up your back and music to your ears, don’t you know!
Them dogs ran that thar deer plum out of hearing, but weren’t long till he turned and was headed right toward me. I heard three shots from the road up above me but the dogs were still coming my way and barking every breath. Then I spotted something glittering in the sun. It was the rack of the biggest deer I had ever laid eyes on, and he was headed straight toward me.
Just as the big deer hit the opposite side of the road, I pulled both triggers. Boom! Boom! When the smoke cleared, I looked and standing right in the middle of the road was that big deer looking straight at me.
I didn’t even look down, but somehow managed to pull the two empty shells out of that double-barrel and put what I thought was another shell in the gun. I took dead aim and pulled the trigger. The gun went snap. I pulled the other trigger, the gun went snap, but you ain’t going to believe what happened next.
I’ll be John Brown if’n that thar big deer didn’t fall like a rock and was as dead as a stump., don’t you know. What had just happened? As I lowered the gun, I looked and a Chap Stick rolled out the end of the barrel.
Now, folks, if’n you have the notion of not believing this here story, I got the evidence on the wall and the Chap Stick in my pocket.
J.A. Bolton is a member of N.C. Storytelling Guild, Richmond County Writers’ Club and Story Spinners in Laurinburg.