Dad's Memories

- 28 August 98 - 28 August 98

From the Neck - Bill Hall, 4 deer !!!! At one time!

Some days are better than others - or as John Denver put it - Some days are diamonds, some days are coal. And this day was no diamond, right from the start. We had a foot of snow, with a crust that would support you - sometimes, and then again sometimes not - miserable walking conditions. But hey, it's Saturday - that's HUNTING day.

As usual Bill Hall and I started at daybreak, from the Farmhouse. Agreed on a course - down toward Venture Smith's old cabin, and set out, separating, keeping in touch with an occasional "bark".

Venture Smith is a legendary figure on Haddam Neck - an ex-slave, reported to be well over six feet tall, strong enough to carry an ox on his shoulders, etc. Came to the Neck in the 1800's, settled way down near the junction of the Salmon & Connecticut Rivers, built a small cabin next to a stream and right upland from an inlet off the Salmon River, cleared the land, planted his garden, lived off the land, and traded with the locals.

His cabin remained, in remarkably good shape, raised off the ground on short pilings, with his hand-built small boat still undereath. One room, with a sleeping loft overhead. We treated it with due reverence, and were carefull not to disturb anything. An idyllic spot.

Along about ten AM there was a shot. I recognized the sound of Bill's 35 Remington - followed by another shot - and then another -- and still another. Four shots, spaced about 5 or 6 seconds apart. Most unusual, as we'd most always have a single shot - or on rare occasions, two quick shots at a running deer. I waited, for a minute, in case there might be a running deer come my way, then barked twice to let Bill know I was on the way.

Came onto a non-plussed, deeply disturbed Bill - with four deer on the ground !! He'd come upon a group of deer, bedded down under some Pines. They all took off and jumped over a stonewall. Bill got off one shot as they were going over the wall, a few seconds later a head raised up beyond the wall - BANG - and again - and then again. Thinking that he'd missed several shots, he started over the wall to pick up the trail, only to find all four lying close together.

First, and only time I ever saw Bill really disturbed - in the 18 years we worked, and hunted together.

A dilemma - we'd met and talked with the local Game Warden a few times. And, he was agreeable to our using rifles rather than shotguns - down here on the Neck, on our "own place". But we knew we'd be in big trouble if he met up with us and 4 deer! Cleaned all four, a bloody mess on the snow. No way we could haul all four, especially with breaking thru that crust all the time, so each take one and away uphill to the car - a long haul and we were both "beat "when we arrived at the car after 2 PM.

Bill said he'd get his younger brother, who'd been bugging him to come over for a while, and let him help with the other two deer. Back late in the afternoon with brother David, husky, but bothered with Asthma. We returned, all downhill, to get two more deer. David volunteered - he'd take this one - you two can take the other, and with the deer over his shoulders, started off. That lasted about 75 yards and the deer was back on the ground, with a chagrined David ready to take turns hauling the rest of the way - with frequent rest stops included - and a new snowfall coming down.

Reached home safely after 10 PM - with a sigh of relief, and hopeing that it snowed a lot, and covered the bloody mess down in the woods.

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