Life Or Death

Quail season in Georgia opened the Saturday before the opening of Deer season and James Walton, a hunting buddy, Mitch Greenberg, a church friend and also a hunting buddy, and I had arranged a Quail hunt south of Jonesboro. Supposedly this was a good place.

We arrived at the hunting area and unloaded the dogs, Rooster, my Brittany Spaniel, and Crystal, James’ German Shorthair and began hunting around the edge of a large, cut, soy bean field. Not a hundred yards into our hunt Crystal freezes and Rooster “backs” her point. We spread out and walk in on the points and “whirrrr”, a big covey of twelve or fifteen birds comes rocketing out of the brush along the edge of the field. Bam, Bam, Bam, Bam, Bam, we unload on the birds and several fall. Both dogs begin to “hunt dead” and we collect four fat quail. Looks like this will be a good day.

We continue around the field and within three hundred yards, both dogs come down on point and we collect two more quail. Definitely looking good as we cut through some woods and brush on our way to another bean field and see Rooster on point ahead in some honeysuckle.

“Point up here,” I shout, as James comes up on my right and Mitch on my left. Crystal, seeing Rooster’s point, freezes next to James’ right leg. I am right behind Rooster, step past him into the honeysuckle awaiting the customary “whirrrr”, and, of all things, up jumps a buck Deer!

All at once, literally all “hell” breaks loose. Crystal rushes between James and the Deer; the Deer lunges at me and I unload three, number eight, shots at three feet distance, straight at the Deer’s head, obviously missing; Rooster charges the Deer; the Deer hooks Crystal and throws her to the side; James yells “Crystal,” and as he moves to his right to reach for dog, the Deer hooks James and rips his left pants leg with his horns; turns toward Mitch and tries to hook him; I’ve found the two double ought bucks I always carry and finally fumble them into my twenty gauge pump as the Deer lunges at Mitch, and Mitch, all five foot seven inches, calmly “high ports” his Browning Superposed, right into the Deer’s horns; the Deer shakes Mitch like a rag doll; James drags Crystal away; I notice Rooster is now posted strategically behind me as I finally get my shotgun loaded and up; the Deer continues shaking Mitch; and Bam, Bam, I put two double oughts into the Deer’s head and he drops in his tracks.

Whew! This battle lasted for not quite thirty seconds. The longest thirty seconds imaginable. As we load up Crystal and hurry to the nearest Vet’s office, we take stock of our situation, no hunters hurt, one dog down and seriously injured, Mitch “all shook up”, one dead Deer, and Deer season is one week off. In fifteen minutes we pull up to a Vet’s office in Jonesboro and ten minutes later we find out Crystal is dead. James is crushed!

Returning to the scene of the battle and looking closely at the Deer, we see it is a nice, seven point buck, probably a fifteen inch inside spread, that had been shot in the left hindquarter, at least three days before. The wound was festering and gangrene, or the Deer equivalent, had set in and the Deer must have been in great pain. Checking out the area, we find a large quantity of corn spread around the honeysuckle patch. At least two game laws had been broken. Shooting Deer in Georgia over bait was illegal and the Deer had been shot at least ten days before Deer season opened.

We told the local Game Warden but don’t know if any action was taken or if the perpetrator was apprehended. Three weeks later we returned for another hunt at this spot and discovered that someone had come in and cut the Deer’s horns off.

Some may not know what “high Porting” is. It is a term applied to hand to hand combat training with a rifle, expensive shotgun in this case, where the weapons weight is evenly balanced in both hands at shoulder height and using it to block and parry opponents thrusts with a bayonet or butt stock. Mitch, a Viet Nam veteran, former Air Force Officer and Navigator in a B-52, had used the technique perfectly!