Have you ever had bad luck? Not serious bad luck like Hep. but like humorous, expensive bad luck? Imagine deer hunting. I always hunt with a modern firearm as opposed to black powder. Its far more convenient to have the gun go off when you pull the trigger than to have it go off a second later. That is sooo 19th century. Black Powder has its adherents but I consider it a novelty. There’s bow hunting too, but that’s even more primitive. My idea of the perfect setup would be a pile of apples, a salt lick or two and a 7.62 X51 mm M-60.
When I moved up here after the Vietnam Boundary dispute in 74, Washington hadn’t been overrun by Californians-yet. It was rural within 20 miles of Seattle. And there were lots of deer. I hit my first one in late 78 coming over Snoqualmie Pass from Yakima. I was coming back from hunting so I just added this to the one in back and went on home. My buddy Willie was behind me and helped me throw it in after I gutted it. It toasted the right front quarter of my Datsun 1600 truck but didn’t damage the radiator. The headlight just needed some duct tape and it was good to go.
It happened again in 83 after I’d started driving Dodge vans. I center punched this buck in June and he bent the fan housing. I tied it to a tree and backed the dent out. Good to go. Gut the deer and press on. It was summer and deer tags aren’t generally accepted then by game wardens. This time the damage was to that chintzy plastic grill. Well, shoot Bubba. They cost $350 and I wasn’t trying to make a fashion statement with a work vehicle. It didn’t make the vehicle go faster so I spent the insurance on an oil change and a nice NIB .44 mag. Model 26. Willie let on to all my friends about how I was now using vehicles to punch my deer tag. Instead of modern rifle, Willie said I was purchasing Modern Vehicle deer tags. That hurts a lot. He even said I put the little deer whistles on my front bumpers backwards to call deer onto the road. That part was a lie. The instructions didn’t actually tell you which way to face them.
In the fall of 89, I was coming back from Elk hunting with another friend Tom. Tom was an engineer. He glued homemade “sandbags” like saddlebags onto his cooler so it would ride on the hump in his F 150 and stay put. It was about 1800 and dark out. He leaned forward to pull out one of Milwaukee’s finest when a doe stepped into the road. This was still within Olympic National (No firearms) Park. We jumped out and gave her the heave into the back of his pickup. It had a canopy so no one could see in. We traveled about 12 miles before the truck started jumping and wallowing. Tom thought he had a flat tire. I turned the Stones cassette down and looked over my shoulder to see the doe trying to kick her way out. We had exited the park so we pulled over and shined his flashlight in. The canopy had some serious damage so Tom opted for the quickest repair order- the .357. It took three shots because she was really jumping and Tom’s aim sucks after 4 beers. The guy who did his body work never even batted an eye. It must happen a lot.
I got blamed for Tom hitting this one because I was now bad luck. But being near me during hunting season was considered good luck. My Dodge 350 extended cargo Van was now nicknamed a .30-’06 Chrysler. They call the one I’m driving now the Aught One Dodge Magnum. People just don’t realize how much words can hurt.
The next one was on Hartstene Island in 92. The spell was broken. Hartstene was so small it was shotgun only. Modern shotgun, if you will. It wasn’t my van this time. The guys in front of me in a little Vega had toasted a small doe. She was still alive when I pulled up so I capped her. The kid had borrowed Grandma”s car to go into Shelton and he was in deep doo-doo. He kicked the deer a few more times and then helped me throw her into the back of the ’06. Gut and go, dude. I was getting this down to a science.
In the summer of 96 and Van #3, I was clearing three lots and there was a beautiful Maple right where I didn’t want it. A buddy named Bob that did a lot of wood carving and salad bowels wanted a big knotty snowbreak section with lots of burls. On Sunday, I got the come along and some 2X8s for a ramp and off we went. 10 miles and my second Tanqueray and tonic later, out came three deer across the road. I had usurped Tom’s saddle cooler idea and had a nice built-in console between the seats. It had a built-in spot for a cooler. It was perfectly situated with a cutting board for the limes, too. Anything less would have been uncivilized.
Well, hey. I was a lot older and a lot wiser now. And with two double Tangos under my belt, I was exxxtra careful. I slowed down to 25 and moved to the right. Off they went to safety and I accelerated right into #4. I broke both back legs and felt sorry he was suffering. I reached back in under the seat for Mr. Smith.
At that very moment a guy, his wife and their two daughters (10 and 7?) pulled up in their shiny new Volvo Station Wagon with the Save the Earth stickers. The four of them all stared at the poor buck trying to crawl off the road. I walked over to send him to Valhalla and the woman screamed “Gil! He going to shoot the poor thing! Stop him! ” The guy looked at my .44, then he looked at me. He said “You are sick, Mr.”
Well, you don’t know my humor. With the straightest face I could pull together I said “You’re right. I guess I could back up and run over him a few more times until he’s done for. There’s that, too. Probably more humane, huh?”
He looked at Persimmon face and shrugged his shoulders. Then he turned and said “Kids, look away. This is going to be ugly.”
The kids decided to watch. The wife was still screaming at Gil to cover their eyes when I popped it. He leaned out and said “We’re calling the cops, buddy. Just so you know- I got your license pate. You’re not gonna get away with this!” And off they went towards town.
Great. Now I had to share the friggin’ deer with Deputy Larsen. Oh well, gut and go and into the back . We mutually decided that Deputy Dave, our hunting partner, wasn’t going to be very impressed with what I could blow on his breathalyzer so we set sail back to the house the back way to skin him and hang him up.
I lucked out or Mr. Volvo lied. Dave was a no show. Bob and Candi aren’t fond of wild game so I was the lone winner. I nursed the ’06 all the way to 2000. My wife bought me a brand new one for Christmas and I put the deer whistles on facing the right way this time. So far, so good.