Being deer season I got to recalling some of my deer hunting experiences. I have some wonderful memories of hunting in Mount Holly and Shrewsbury with Dad and my brother Brian.
The old Stewart place comes to mind. Along Mount Holly Flats, turn onto Summit Road. Off Summit Road is Stewart Road. In the early 1960s, at the end of Stewart Road was an abandoned farmhouse. Dad always called it “The Stewart place.”
This was a neat place to explore. While the house still stood, all windows had been broken out long ago, front door missing. The plaster ceilings had fallen to the sagging floors, the roof leaking.
Hedgehogs had moved in. You could see where hedgehogs had gnawed on the woodwork. Areas where human hands had touched woodwork for a hundred years or more and rich in salt from perspiration were heavily gnawed on.
There was an old family dump where I dug bottles. But more importantly was the terrain and landscape. The Stewart place was near the base of a ridge with a damp area between the house and base of the ridge. This damp area was populated with hardhack, balsam, spruce, and a few apple trees. Woodcock, partridge, and snowshoe hare were abundant. Do you know the whistling sound a woodcock makes when he takes to vertical flight like a helicopter?
Up on the ridge where we deer hunted was a mix of hemlock and hardwoods. We had scouted the area weeks in advance, while bird or rabbit hunting. We knew the area well.
It’s one thing to see deer coming out in your field or under your apple trees to feed, but entirely different when you are in their house, the woods. It requires knowledge and skill so as to not be detected. Successful hunters know this. Harry Goodell and Bob Turco come to mind.
From 1962 to 1967, we hunted the Stewart place. Dad always made a thermos of coffee and fried egg sandwiches for our lunch. Did your parents keep a cup of bacon fat on the stove?
Sometimes we entered the woods by flashlight. Once on our stand we waited. How the cold 10-degree mornings would set in your bones.
One morning Dad got a spike horn at the Stewart place. Now a spike horn is nothing to brag about, but this deer had 12-inch spikes that curved forward as if he was a four-pointer.
It was 1966 when I shot what was called a coy-dog at the time. I had heard about coy-dogs. It was thought they were a cross between a coyote and a domestic dog. Today we know different. Anyway, one morning on the ridge behind the Stewart place, I sat shivering. All of a sudden I saw this animal coming at a dead run. I raised my rifle and fired once.
The photo with this article is me with the coy-dog. Today we see coyotes frequently, but in the 1960s they were just arriving here. Very few were shot in those days. It was a big deal if you did.
It was such a rare occurrence at the time that this photo was in the Rutland Herald. I remember people coming to our house to see it. I had a taxidermist make a rug of it, mouth open. Somewhere along life’s journey I lost it.
Back to deer hunting
Dad usually only fired once. Brian was excitable and would sometimes empty his rifle. Brian is left-handed using a .308 with bolt action on the right side. It was amazing how rapid he could fire.
He would touch off a round, reach over the scope to the bolt with his left hand, extract the empty cartridge, chamber another round, and fire again.
One year we were hunting in Shrewsbury on the last day of deer season. It was getting on toward sunset when Brian shot a buck. Once again he emptied his rifle.
Another time Brian and I were hunting together. I heard him shoot so I went to see if he got him. “No!” he said excitedly. “I can’t believe I missed him!”
Brian didn’t spend much time looking for the deer so I looked around. I made several passes around the area where Brian said the deer was when he fired. Soon I picked up the blood trail. The deer was lying down when I found him. One shot and it was over. I don’t remember who tagged him.
My mother: “The only thing the horns are good for is stirring the gravy.”