Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: PUZZLE (11/24/16)
- TITLE: Buzzard Progeny
By Virgil Youngblood
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I have never understood what happened that morning.
Three days prior Pop came home from work more excited than I had ever seen him. “Get ready boys,” my father-in-law said to me and Bert. “We are going hunting.”
When Lawrence Kelly came to get his tractor, he asked Pop if he would like to hunt Saturday morning on his place in McMullen County. If he wanted to, he could bring two other hunters.
Duh! Serendipity on a December morn. Two Boone and Crockett racks had been taken on Kelly’s spread. Pop, naturally, jumped on the offer. Having fries with a hamburger was about the extent of our living it up when we ate out. A chance to put free meat on the table and big horns to boot … We would find the gas money to get us there.
Chasing the pick-ups headlights down the highway through a tunnel of darkness that morning, we strategized. Kelly said there was a hunting-blind on the north and south end of a large Kleingrass pasture. Midway between the blinds there was as oak tree with a plank seat on a limb. Climbing steps were nailed to the trunk. The stands looked west from the pasture’s edge into a strip of dense brush between the field and the Frio River.
Kelly said it didn’t look like much, but don’t let that fool you. Mossy-back bucks traveled that brushy corridor to get to their bedding ground in a canyon on the adjoining ranch. If one was running late, we might get him. A lot of big bucks had been taken from those stands.
Bert called “Dubs” on the tree stand. I promised nothing would slip past me for him to shoot.
So there we were an hour before sunrise whispering, “Good luck!” We separated and followed flashlight beams down dusty boot-printed trails to our hunting spots. My blind was on the left. I couldn’t see anything through my binoculars except dark brush and naked mesquite limbs silhouetted by star light. When the sun began tip-toeing toward the horizon, some robins flitted through a granjeno thicket. A brown thrush appeared, scratching leaves aside looking for breakfast beneath a cactus clump. Somewhere, a mocking bird began warbling.
I glanced behind me at the frost-browned field orienting myself to the landscape. After awhile, with nothing else stirring in the brush, I looked at the field again just to see something different. The rising sun was hitting it at an angle that made the frost crystals glow golden beyond belief. To my surprise, in the middle of the Kleingrass field, a monster buck rose to his feet from his bed in belly-deep grass. And then another. And another! And another! They were so unbelievably big and beautiful and the sight so pristine I struggled to breathe, instinctively not wanting to change the moment.
They headed out of the field in a line pacing along a shallow swale that drained past the tree Bert roosted in. He was leaning against the trunk, his back to them. I was dead certain I could nail one. But, Bert could spit on them when they passed heading for the brush twenty yards away. Bert could nail moving ducks at a carnival shooting gallery so I figured there was no way for him to get skunked. Dang! It was hard to release the tension on my trigger finger.
I watched through my scope as they walked beneath him; and kept walking -- unhurriedly. They disappeared like ethereal spirits.
When our unproductive hunt ended at noon, Bert swore vehemently, “Go fly a kite! Bucks don’t bed down in an open field. Nothing got by me.”
“Not asleep? Sure, Bert. Buzzards never kill anything either.”
Why didn’t I shoot? You explain it if you can.
Etched permanently in my memory are four gorgeous creations of God, heads held high; their massive frames stretching brown hides taut, standing in a golden field kissed by the rising sun.
That’s a better memory than fries with a hamburger, hold the pickles.
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