By Ted Lawson
-- Life is full of beautiful memories. But there are some that stick out in our minds so vividly that no amount of time or circumstances can erase them. Having spent most of my adult years around hunting, I have a collection of memories in the field that are special, and they are deeply embedded in my mind and my heart. Here is one such memory that could never be erased.
Back in the early 1980s we had a three-day Thanksgiving hunt in Arkansas. We were allowed to run deer with dogs during the regular "bucks only" part of the season but during the three-day Thanksgiving hunt, no dogs were allowed. Like many dedicated hunters, we would make "drives" to try to move deer and possibly push one across a stander. On one such hunt, my father-in-law, my stepson, my nephew, and I set out Thanksgiving Day after a big lunch to an area that was known to hold several deer. When we arrived, I gave instructions to my gang as to where I wanted them set up. It was around a place that had an old home and a pasture.
I donned my blaze orange vest and cap, checked my gear, loaded my double barrel 12-gauge shotgun and started the drive.
I hadn't gone very far into the brush when I heard a deer jump up and run in the general direction of "Pop," my father-in-law. I yelled out, "One's coming your way." A short time later, I heard the distinctive sound of a shotgun roar and Pop hollered for me to get over there. He had positioned himself in a fallen white oak tree that gave him an elevated view overlooking an old stock pond and fence line. After I retrieved his shot gun and helped him get down, we went over to where he had shot at the deer.
He had shot a nice-sized spike as it was about to clear the fence. He must have pulled the trigger while the deer was in mid-air because its head was sticking through the 4x4 mesh wire fence. After my stepson and nephew arrived, we got the deer out of the fence, field-dressed it, and dragged it to an old road so we could later load it when we finished the drive.
We regrouped and I started to make another drive. I had walked just over 100 yards or so when I jumped a big doe. Again I yelled, "Coming your way!" to alert the standers of a deer that was bustin' out of the undergrowth. All at once, the deer made a hard right turn and stopped at about 75 yards. I quickly shouldered my double barrel and shot twice. She rolled up in a heap and was just kicking when I got to her.
I quickly chambered another shell, put the doe down and waited for the others to come and help me drag it to the road. I say dragged because we first tried to carry the doe on a pole but that thing swung back and forth so violently we couldn't keep our balance.
Once more the standers were sent out, and I proceeded to tromp the bushes one last time. I made a big circle and was about to give up when one more doe jumped up. I could see my nephew standing on a stump and didn't even have time to yell when I saw him aim. A loud report from his .30-06 resulted in a successful harvest. He was so happy that he let out what we call his "Jeremiah Johnson" yell.
Once more we dragged another deer down the old logging road. After we loaded the three deer in the truck, we stood there and talked about what an unusual hunt this had been.
Four hunters sat out for a Thanksgiving Day afternoon hunt and three out of four guys took deer. When we arrived back at the house, all the kinfolk were awestruck to see that many deer in the back of the truck. Pop said, "We stacked 'em up like cordwood."
The only regret is not one single picture of the event was taken, but the memories of that afternoon hunt will live in our minds and hearts forever.