American Fiction Drama

Roy’s Monster Buck

   The soft breeze on the back of Roy’s neck sent a chill through his entire body. It signaled the end of his hunt and an opportunity to harvest the whitetail buck of a lifetime.

   Roy was an avid hunter; his weapon of choice was a compound bow and arrow. He hunted the annual Wisconsin gun deer season since he was old enough to purchase a hunting license with his dad. Roy and his dad hunted with a group of local farmers known as the Brown gang, who were famous for filling all their tags. 

   When he moved away from his hometown, Roy started hunting in central Wisconsin with his brother-in-law and his friends. That group comprised six men who formed a hunting club and hunted in the Chequamegon National Forest. Eventually, they purchased twenty acres adjacent to the forest and built a cabin with all the modern facilities. Each of the club members was free to use the cabin as often as they chose, so it was occupied most weekends throughout the year.

   Roy’s brother-in-law introduced him to archery hunting, and after their first time out, Roy was hooked. He loved hunting in warmer weather, seeing many different animals while in his tree stand, and the quiet solitude he experienced. He also had excellent success over the several years, harvesting several decent bucks, but never had the opportunity to take a massive, racked buck he dreamed about. 

   This day was different. Earlier in the season, Roy had spotted a large buck carrying a rack of widespread antlers with at least ten points and two drop tines. The monster buck crossed the top of the ridge Roy could see from his creekside stand, much too far away for a shot with his bow. He knew the buck would eventually pass close enough for Roy to get a shot.

   Throughout the season, Roy had several opportunities to shoot smaller bucks but was holding out for what would be his biggest-ever prize. He had the feeling it would be that day.

   Friday morning, sales meetings were mandatory at Schultz Concrete Construction Co., where Roy had to report his sales activities in the top-tier Wisconsin counties of Douglas, Bayfield, and Iron. Lunch was catered and always something special, so Roy did not want to miss it. He left for the cabin not long after he had his fill of grilled shrimp and crab legs served with red potatoes, asparagus, and lots of drawn butter. He had planned to meet his mistress, Mia, at the cabin, but as he was driving north on I-39, she called and said she would have to work a double shift at the nursing home in Hayward. One of the other nurses called in sick, and management could not get anyone else to fill in. He and Mia would stay the night in the cabin and hunt together for the next two days, but that would not happen. Mia asked him to drive to her house when Roy was finished hunting. She said she would have a late dinner waiting when he got there. Mia then hinted at a special dessert served in bed after the supper dishes were washed. Roy knew exactly what she meant and, without hesitating, agreed to her proposal.

   Although disappointed, Roy felt it would be a successful afternoon and evening. He arrived at the cabin, changed into his camo hunting clothes, and drove to the trail that led to his stand. When Roy finally parked his vehicle, he unpacked his archery equipment and walked as quietly and swiftly as possible. He had about an hour of daylight to hunt when he settled into his tree stand. With so little time left, he decided to pull the buck grunt call from his backpack to see if the big deer was nearby and take the grunts as a challenge. Within minutes, he heard a twig crack to his right. Roy’s heart began to pound but quieted when he saw a small six-point buck approach his tree. The little guy walked up to Roy’s tree, sniffed it, looked up at Roy, and curled his upper lip, trying to identify the creature high up in the stand. Not wanting to spook the deer, he held perfectly still until it turned and slowly walked into a thicket of cedar trees behind Roy. 

   With only a half hour of daylight, Roy was beginning to think his monster buck would not show. Just then, he heard footfalls from behind a stand of small hemlocks. He couldn’t see what it was but was convinced it was his trophy. Roy had cleared two shooting lanes earlier in the season, one to the hemlocks’ right and the other to the left. Roy would only have fifteen yards to his target if the buck stepped out into either lane. When the deer reached the opposite side of the trees from Roy, he began raking the smaller trees with his antlers, challenging any other buck in the area to a dual. Roy still could not see the big deer, but he could see small branches being thrown out to both lanes by the trashing the small trees had to endure. 

   It would only be a matter of moments before he would appear in Roy’s sites. His bow drawn, Roy was ready.

   Then it happened. Roy felt the soft breeze on the back of his neck. That breeze would carry even the slightest amount of Roy’s scent and was headed straight for the hemlocks. The thrashing suddenly stopped, and there was total stillness for a full minute. Roy remained ready to pull the release, but it would not be used that evening. He could hear the deer turn and walk slowly in the direction he came until he was well beyond shooting distance. Roy got one final glimpse of his query as he bounded to the other side of the ridge. 

   Dejected, Roy sat in his tree stand until it was well past shooting time, replaying what had passed in his mind. What could he have done? Will he ever get another chance to harvest that deer? When he finally descended from his perch, he could walk out of the woods by the light of the full moon without using his flashlight. As he approached his truck, he could feel the relatively warm October day begin to cool. There would be frost by morning. It is a perfect morning to hunt, but he would not be there.

March 03, 2024 01:41

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Corey Melin
00:39 Mar 14, 2024

Well done. It was not meant to be this time around. Maybe there is a reason. Many things that happen in life that we become frustrated that it turned out that way just to find out or never find out there was a good reason. good read.


Roger Skrypczak
18:09 Mar 14, 2024

Thank you, Corey. You are correct. Robert Frost said it well in his The Road Not Taken.


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LeeAnn Hively
04:07 Mar 12, 2024

I'm not sure if I was rooting for Roy or the buck, but I know I felt both relief and a pang of sadness at the end.


Roger Skrypczak
21:14 Mar 12, 2024

:) Mission accomplished. Thank you for your response .


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