A Deer, a Knife, and a Thumb

Blog Showcase Image: 

My November 2010 deer hunting had been going so well. I’d seen deer nearly every day. In fact I’d seen this particular buck twice.

The first time, he chased a doe right past my tree stand, literally passing right underneath me. My rifle and scope were useless, he was moving so fast. He whipped past me in seconds. I did notice a look of panic on the doe’s face, and I don’t think it was because she saw me. She didn’t want anything to do with that buck!

The second time he came up behind me, and when I stood up to turn around, he either saw or heard me and started to run, snorting at me all the way up through the woods.

So when he appeared at 4:20 pm one mid-month afternoon, slowly walking in front of me about 100 yards away, I said to myself, “Ok, third time never fails. He must be the one I’m supposed to shoot.”

And I did. After I shot, he turned and dashed right by me, dropping dead about 50 yards behind my stand.

I climbed down and began the task of field dressing him as darkness began setting in early due to the cloudy drizzly day.

I was hurrying the job and almost finished when I sliced off the side of my thumb. My left hand was in the deer’s cavity and I was sticking the knife back in with my right hand when the knife passed just a little too close to my thumb. I cut off a sizeable chunk. Linda had told me I’d sharpened that knife too much.

I knew immediately that I’d made a bad mistake. Suddenly I was bleeding worse than the buck. Abandoning the task, deer, knife, and a glove, I raced to the shore, jumped in the canoe, paddled back to the landing on my neighbor’s property, and trotted home.

Linda wasn’t home yet from school, so I cleaned up the wound but could not stop the bleeding. So off I drove, thumb wrapped in a sock, to the Farmington hospital where I was well and promptly treated.

When I told the doctor I still had to get my deer out of the woods, he laughed. “You won’t be doing that,” he said. “You’d better round up some buddies to do it.”

After getting a tetanus shot, antibiotic, and dressing for the wound, I left the hospital with a huge bandage covering my left hand, instructions to keep the hand raised above my heart, a handful of painkillers, and two prescriptions.

Steve Staples and Ron LaRue return with my deer.

The next morning, neighbor Ron LaRue, my Dad Ezra and our friend Steve Staples mustered out to retrieve the 150 pound 6-point buck, and help me get it registered at the Mount Vernon Country Store and transported to Ballard’s for butchering. The guys also brought back my knife, but didn’t notice my glove left near the deer on the ground.

I’d worried that coyotes would get into the deer during the night, so when I saw Ron and Steve approaching the landing with the buck lying between them in the canoe, I was very relieved – and also very thankful for good neighbors and friends.

It goes without saying that it’s a special blessing to be still sharing this great hunting tradition with my 87-year-old father.

In early December, I was told that the lost glove was found by a neighbor, Rob Brickett, while he hunted through my woodlot later in the season. It’s amazing that he noticed it. He stuck the glove on a hardwood branch, not realizing it was mine.

Yesterday (December 29) I snow shoed back to the spot where the deer dropped, and there, hanging on a hardwood tree, was my glove. I put it back on, officially ending my deer season.

I wrote this 2010 deer hunting story on November 23 for my Downeast.com blog, typing with one finger while my heavily bandaged left hand sat in a sling raised above my heart. It wasn’t the biggest buck I ever shot, but it’s one I will never forget!

Dad (Ezra Smith) with Steve Staples, Ron LaRue, and my buck.

Site by Fieldstone Media