Tis the Season

Tis the Season

For big dead animals. I drove up to Suce Creek this morning to run the dogs, and there were two guys standing looking into the bed of a pickup truck. Once of them was wearing camoflage, always a tip-off. So as the boys ran up the hill in search of grouse, I walked over and took a peek. “What’d you get?” I asked. “A moose,” the one guy said. “That’s not a moose!”I said looking at the big black dead animal, “The antlers are wrong.” It was a very beautiful, dark, almost black elk. He was nestled in the bed of the full-sized pickup truck and just as I was thinking that it was sort of odd that he fit, I noticed that his legs were cut off below the “knee”. It was a little startling. “That’ll keep you fed all winter,” I said to the guy in the camoflage. “I know,” he said. “I’m grateful.”

We exchanged pleasantries, including the location of the gut pile, always important if you’re hiking with dogs, and they told me they didnt’ think the bears would have found it yet since he’d just killed the elk this morning. I told them about my bear encounter this spring, and they agreed that bear spray and bells on the dogs are a good idea, and off I went. As I left I heard the one guy saying to the other, that the elk made missing church worthwhile, and the other guy said, I know, but I really wanted to go this morning.

It’s one of those things that separates us from the rest of the country. I’ve encountered guys in the woods with guns here who don’t scare me at all. Guys who look like the caricature of what folks on the coasts think of as rednecks — and thus far, I’ve never had anyone be anything other than polite and kind and sweet to my dogs.

And that elk — he was a beauty. That guy and his family will eat that elk all winter — it’s good clean meat that’s never seen an antibiotic or a feed lot. And my dogs didn’t get into the gut pile, so I’m pleasantly disposed toward him in a way I wouldn’t be otherwise.

3 thoughts on “Tis the Season

  1. Charlotte,

    This was a great post. Not great in sense that it’s unusual, since all your entries reflect your direct and honest way in the world, but definitely great in that I don’t read anything this fresh in any other blog. I love the tension here between a city person’s (uh, I guess that’s me as the reader) first reaction to the scene, and your wonderful response. Who would have thought a post about “big dead animals” would be so sweet?

    I usually read without commenting, but just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog. Thanks for sharing the peaks into your life and thoughts.

    ~Jess

  2. Thanks Jess — there was a piece in our local paper this afternoon that had me thinking along the same lines. A Bangladeshi-American Muslim man from NYC came through last January on a road trip and totalled his car here in town. He’s been here ever since, partially because everyone was so nice to him. “This is the real America,” he kept saying in the article. His family had worried about him out here in the red states, but he’d discovered that it was the opposite. Folks helped him out. He found a couple of jobs, and an apartment, and he likes it so much he’s going back to NYC to get his family. It’s a funny place, once you’re here, you’re one of us …

  3. That’s a cool story too! My parents recently moved to Missoula (from San Diego, although they’re not originally from California). They also commented on how nice everyone is.

    I thought of you recently while reading short stories by Pam Houston, especially in the stories about her dogs.

    And of course I meant to write “peeks” into your life, not “peaks”.

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