Louisville Magazine

MAR 2012

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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"H e hit him both times," Farmer says after I squeeze the trigger a second time. I rise from my crouch behind the hay bales I've been using to steady my rifle, and I look out the tobacco barn's entrance, an opening big enough to drive a truck through (which we did, not wanting to get rained on). Te deer is gone. Te .257 Roberts' recoil is minimal, but it's enough to have prevented me from seeing which way the deer ran. By now, the late-afternoon sun that'd finally broken through after three days of rain is disappearing, and I have no idea where the buck is. Louisville Magazine's likely to get hit with complaint letters about this assignment as is; it'll be a barrage if it's all for nothing and my hunt ends like the Pine Barrens episode of Te Sopranos. For the meat, the trophy, the story: I need closure. I need a carcass. Gassett and Farmer head to where the deer had been eating grass when I took my first shot. "Why not go where I shot him the second time?" I ask. "It'll save time and, as he was at the far left of my vantage point, it'll be an easier spot to find — just head to the tall grass and look back at the barn to where the hay bales barely come into view." Tey don't answer, and I remember that I don't know what the hell I'm doing, so I shut up. We slosh the 125 yards through the kill- ing field, spread out below the barn. Farmer sees strands of fur. Gassett spots blood. I look behind me, over the barn, and see the sunlight fading in the gray sky. With my first shot's accuracy confirmed, we trudge to- ward the high grass, following the approximate path the deer must've taken. What was going through his mind? I wonder as we search for hoof prints. Did he have any idea what hap- pened? Was he in pain? (Actually, later, in hindsight, my liberal conscience will suggest that's what I was thinking. Other than worrying about finding the deer, my only other true thought is that this slop is getting all over my pricey REI hiking boots and now I'll have to have them cleaned when I get home.) We reach the tall grass and fan out. I look back to the barn and try to put myself right where the deer was. I tramp a straight line through the grass, not knowing what I'm look- ing for but hoping to stumble upon a dead deer. What I do see is fine, white, hair-like pollen. Pollen? "Hey, Tim," I say. "What's this?" He comes over and confirms my suspicion: It's deer fur. We yell this information to Gassett, who's head- ing toward the woods. Within a minute, Gassett shouts back: "Found him." Te buck dropped dead about 20 yards from where he'd stood when I squeezed the trigger that second time. I hurry toward my buck, but Farmer stops me. Is he about to prep me for some bizarre hunting ritual, like covering my- self in the deer's blood or eating deer heart? No, he just wants to let Sangster, the cameraman, set up to capture my reaction. Gassett and Farmer huddle over the deer and talk to the cam- era while I remain on the edge of the woods. Once called, I walk through the branches to where the cameraman's bright light illuminates the deer. Te sun has set, and I follow a path not too different from what my deer took. My sole thought is: I killed that. Farmer recaps my shots for the camera. Te second one pierced both of the deer's lungs. Perfect. "It's wet out; it's been raining all day," Farmer says. "Te tracking would have been very difficult on a night like to- night." "Yeah." My one-syllable response seeps with relief. B efore working on this story, I couldn't fathom taking pleasure in killing something and had little problem judging those who do. Conflict of interests? Te writer as sheltered liberal and rugged outdoorsman. 3.12 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE [43]

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