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Hunting Days and the Old Remington
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 by Frank Shortt
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     My hunting partners used to call me Susie Homemaker when we went to Yreka for our yearly Nimrod sojourn. Who else was going to keep the area clean? I always carried my old Remington 270 caliber as my trusted pal.
After cooking breakfast of bacon or sausage and eggs with hash browns and toast, I would immediately clean up the mess. Sometimes, one of the other hunters would offer to help with the camp chores. More often than not, I was appointed to keep things neat and tidy, not by the group, but by my need to organize. After the camp was neat and tidy, I would usually go with one of the newest members of our group to show that person the best spot to possibly see a large buck and where the best place to have a clear shot. As we moved down the hill, winding our way cattle-like, I would explain to the newcomer, who was Ray on this day, why I was taking him to the chosen spot. “There is water coming out of the old gold mine, trickling down the hill to end up in a little pool that some thoughtful hunter in the past has dammed up with the clay so prevalent in the area.”
     The newcomer would get excited and begin to allow his voice to raise several decibels, at which time I would have to caution him to please keep his voice lowered to a whisper. Deer’s ears are very sensitive to sound, especially a sound that is new to the area. As we approached the area from the south side, where we had made a long detour in order to see the place a little better, the newcomer’s anxiety would clearly show. We traversed worn, dusty deer trails, and as we approached the pool, new tracks could be seen where deer had come very early in the morning to quench their thirsts. This time we even spotted black bear tracks and some of his defecation. We both became much quieter at that revelation. We did not care to tangle with Mr. Bruin as we were both uneducated in the hunting of such.
     We soon settled in for the quiet wait as the sun was due to arise in less than an hour. My friend fidgeted anxiously, straining his eyes for that first buck! Leafless bushes became huge bucks, every sound became a possible trophy buck! This leads to another story about Yreka:
     My friend, Al, was getting up in years but still insisted on joining us for the yearly hunt on opening day. His son-in-law owned a brand-new John Wayne Commemorative lever-action saddle gun of which he was very proud. He intended to place his first notch on the stock on this particular trip. He and Al decided to hunt together. The son-in-law moved along the fire trail as Al went down below to see what he could stir up. Deer often have resting places in the thickest underbrush and can only be aroused by rolling rocks or throwing larger pieces of wood into their bedding ground. This is what Al was attempting to do, when, suddenly, a huge buck arose right in front and below him. Son-in-law, being up above, had witnessed the whole thing but could not see where Al was rising up down below.
     Just as the son-in-law shot at the buck, Al arose to point it out, and unfortunately, was shot through the neck. The shooter was devastated thinking he had killed his father-in-law! We had to rush Al down to the Yreka hospital and, fortunately for Al, the bullet had missed any vital areas such as the spine or windpipe, and had only pierced the meaty part of the neck. Al survived after a painful recovery. This stopped both men from pursuing the wily bucks of Yreka. I believe that later the son-in-law even sold his prized John Wayne Commemorative Winchester saddle gun!
     Meanwhile, as we quietly sat watching the water pool, I spotted a huge three-pointer making his way downhill to water. I did not immediately tell Ray what I had seen for fear he would scare the deer away. I could have shot the deer a couple of times, but I wanted to allow Ray his first buck. Just as the buck ducked his head to the pool, I nudged Ray, who was looking the other way, and quietly said, “There is a wonderful buck at the waterhole, get your rifle ready for a shot!” Ray became very shaky with buck fever! I calmed him down as best I could and he finally became ready for a shot. To his credit, he made a clean shot just as the buck raised his head. The buck fell where he stood as his lifeblood trickled down into the pool of water. Ray was elated until he realized how far we had to carry that buck and that the buck had to be gutted and cleaned inside before we could begin the ascent. He became a seasoned hunter that day.
     I had killed several deer with the old Remington 270, but as things evolve, I made up my mind one day to stop being Susie Homemaker. I was tired of doing all the cooking! I was tired of trying to keep the tent clean for a bunch of ingrates, or so they seemed at the time. I guess I grew tired of the mess that was made when an animal is killed. I retired old Bessie, the Remington 270, from active duty. She lay dormant for several years, wrapped in a down-soft doeskin case. She became only fit for a wall-hanger, as far as my hunting was concerned. I finally sold her to a neighbor who had never hunted in his life, although he was a good shot with a rifle. Sometimes I am reminded of the grim exploits of the past when once we trod brushy spaces in search of the illusive bucks. We trailed the shy, black-tailed ungulates of the West coast, sometimes, but not always, bagging our game! The Remington 270 delivered sure, sudden death to whatever game I pointed it at and shot. Would you believe, I can hardly step on an ant today! I seemed to have gained respect for all life.