Irresistible Force – Immovable Object: The Paradox
An immovable object is an object whose motion cannot be changed by any force, except possibly by an unstoppable force (see below).
An unstoppable force is a force strong enough to change the motion of any object, except possibly an immovable object (see above).
The small wooded area, as deer hunting spots go, seemed as unlikely as anything you would see… or even suspect.
Cars zip by on a four lane highway, chased by tractor-trailers laden to 80,000 lbs gross.
The Interstate highway, with exit construction and all the accompanying noise – was right there.
Businesses flourished – and the ever expanding, accompanying construction that comes along with that was present in the area.
People even used the little area as a dumping ground for trash and debris.
But – no one knew.
At least not anyone that has spoken to us.
Oh, we are pretty sure that some folks had a great idea. Some folks may even have had evidence, such as a report or maybe even a sighting.
These things, ladies and gentlemen, we will never know – as by themselves they offer little importance.
Oh, but one person found out. We will get to the finding our part all in good time – but it is not imperative that we share that with you. Not yet, anyway.
And, after the “finding out” – he told very few others. After all – why would you? What good is a report – when you may even be able to become the story?
This is where our real story begins and we would beg, dear reader, that you get a cup of coffee (or whatever suffices for your leisurely beverage – perhaps even a cold brew) and settle in to hear what we would tell.
Oh, you will have doubts – of that, there is little debate. You may even take some exception with me and the tale. But, as many (particularly here in the south) have said – the proof is in the pudding.
You may have also heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. Ahhh, the words will likely exceed a thousand – but stay with us and lets discover, together, if we can find a photo or two to accompany what is basically a 1 in 10,000 story. Oh it has happened before – and it will happen again – but stick with us and help us enjoy the telling of the tale.
You will see and hear of folks being tested. You may even feel your heartstrings pull a little, particularly if you are a hunter.
You may even feel the suffering, as one who knows anguish – and anguish is coming as surely as the sun will rise in the east tomorrow.
Chapter 1: Irresistible Forces – and – What We Think May Have Happened
Driven by forces that not even he could understand, the buck rose from his lair well before the protective cover of dark. The sun, still a good hour or two above the horizon, screamed its warning and the magnificent creature – even with all his keen senses – was just flat not listening.
Not on the 5th of November.
Pressing business was at hand and through rut dulled senses, the buck walked away from the blown down white oak where he had spent a portion of the afternoon in a light doze. Food was a distant thought and ever prevalent was the desire to breed.
The roar of traffic on the interstate highway was distant in his years and bothered him no more than the lack of sleep and food. The last several weeks were a blur of travel, rub, scrape, fight, trail the hot does, breed – all the while suffering through scant nutrition and rest.
He walked diagonally, up a slight hill – to a small elevated spot that contained cedars, pines and the remnants of a long abandoned logging road. Abandoned by people, perhaps – but not by my kind – his addled brain considered.
The cedars and pines were perfect for creating rubs, including one 8” cedar that had been used for years and was the true signpost in the area. The scrub oaks and overhanging elm limbs made for perfect areas to check scrapes, make new ones – and more importantly… inspect existing scrapes.
Inspect for signs.
Signs of females.
Signs of competitors.
Better yet, check for signs of receptive females.
He cruises and rubs for nearly an hour – the sun dips lower now and within 45 minutes, darkness will fall.
At the last scrape, very recent sign is discovered. Bad news for someone today, though. There is a slight scent of an estrous doe – but far stronger – a very musky male scent and is recent. The hair that bristles the length of his back when this is discovered is just a weak indicator of the rage inside…
I will accept NO competitors.
I will destroy them.
I, and I alone, will breed the does in my area.
Make no mistake – this IS my area. This is not the only place I roam – but I am the ruler here.
Nose the ground and any caution that was present is abandoned – across the hill and down the other side he begins to travel.
I will find the males, I will defeat them and I will have the females.
This is the only deal I will offer, he thinks, as down the trail he goes at a stiff legged gait.
Some forces, once set in motion, can create a maelstrom that neither man nor beast can control.
Chapter 2: Immoveable Object – and What We Know Happened
The sun, now relatively low in the western quadrant, seemed like a ticking grandfather clock that would, shortly, signal the end of this hunt.
Heck, Matt thought, I was not even sure I was gonna come over to this little 30 acre tract this afternoon – but I am here now so let’s make the most of these last moments. What do they say – no risk, no gain? No guts, no glory?
Matt smiled at the thought of glory, adjusted his hat a little lower and then slowly and gently retrieved his bow from the hanging, screw in hook. With only 40-45 minutes of daylight remaining, I will just have this at the handy, he thinks to himself.
Better safe than sorry.
He grinned at this last thought, did his 240 degree scan again and settled in for what we all know are the last golden moments of each afternoon.
There was simply no way Matt – at this juncture of the hunt, could realize how prophetic “better safe than sorry” was going to mean… in the VERY near future.
Chapter 3 – The First Collision – Part I
Slide back to 4:00 PM.
5 November, 2016.
Let’s ride along with Matt for a few moments.
A very small, unremarkable – possibly even laughable, stand of timber.
Not a single deer, Matt thinks. Not a single, solitary deer. Man, did I choose the wrong tract? Sitting in a small, $30 lock on – Matt was 50 some yards inside the timber from a semi managed foot plot.
On stand early in the afternoon, several hours had passed and the only thing Matt had to show for it was about a thousand caws, whistles, chirps and other noises from the birds and squirrels in the area.
The weather was warmer than normal and there was the slightest hint of a northwest wind.
Time dragged by until Matt had settled in for the last time and grabbed the bow from the hanger… but then, he felt – or maybe sensed – a change.
Leaves that had a slight rustle before seemed to quiet. Birds, boisterous and loud a few moments ago, now suddenly had the volume turned down… and then off.
Squirrels? I don’t see a single one, thinks Matt.
The change was here – and it IS now – but what does it mean?
Like the way the barometric pressure may change before a storm and an old man says “storm’s a comin” as he rubs his painful hip – or maybe even the way you might smell the unmistakable scent of a coming rain when the sun is shining brightly – something most assuredly was about to happen.
Matt could feel it – but even then – he had no idea of how the next 40 minutes was going to completely alter his life.
Two bucks, one more juvenile than the rest, moved into view. Matt felt his heart quicken, even as the few precious minutes of daylight continued to drift away. There is still enough time, he thought to himself! The light was not fading – as much as it was simply leaking out of the day that was 5 November, 2016. A day on which the Auburn football team had played. And a day on which a key player had been injured. Funny how the little details stick with you, right?
Our first protagonists moved slowly to center stage and even engaged in some light, halfhearted sparring. They seemed to be loafing and waiting. Waiting on what?
Matt watched with amused interest but he knew… he knew this little sparring match was not “the thing” he felt…. It was something… more. Something with more what? Yeah, that sounds right – something with more what?
More substance, yes, that was it – something with more content.
240 degree scans, although slow and steady up to this point, picked up vigor without gaining speed. Ever cautious, Matt is not willingly going to miss this “something”. On point, bow in hand, Matt hears the voice of his father and even more, that of his grandfather…. “pay attention, son, pay attention”. This counsel, from somewhere in the recesses of his mind, seemed to come forward of its own volition at first. Quiet, to the point of not being able to even hear it – it walks slowly forward, like a frightened bride to the altar. Then, Matt seizes this thought and drags it kicking and screaming to the forefront of his mind. No longer a virginal bride enroute to the altar, it is now a thing between men. “Pay attention, son – the thing you want is near. What you do with it is your business. I can teach you. I can help train you. I can lead you to the door – but I cannot walk you through it. You are now on your own”. The taste was not sweet in Matt’s mouth as he mulled this series of thoughts, in fact it had a semi bitter taste that laid unpleasantly on his tongue.
What is this THING?? What am I missing? What substance – or what content?
“Look hard over your right shoulder… this is as far as I can take you”. Images of faces, some from long ago seemed to drift aimlessly in Matt’s mind as he followed these unspoken instructions…..
Does! 5 of them! Behind him, in the timber – they appear to be very slowly browsing, ambling in Matt’s direction – but heck, at that pace, it would seem as though they are never gonna get here. A glance westerly tells the tale – the air is about gone from this balloon and the party is going to be over pretty quickly at this pace. He watches and his neck starts to ache… they are barely moving toward the food plot, if they are moving at all.
Matt glances forward – the bucks, seemingly oblivious to the does, are still loafing. They appear simply to be waiting. Waiting on what?
It is then, inexplicably, Matt does something out of character.
A true Auburn fan – the team had played earlier in the day and a key player was hurt. With darkness approaching, he removes his phone from his pocket and does an Internet search on the injured Auburn player. He glances at the does – they are still there, still milling around. A look at the bucks. Still like two kids standing on the street corner waiting for something exciting to happen. They have no idea yet, but the wait is not going to be long. While he is fumbling silently with the phone, looking for information on Auburn AND attempting to monitor the situation on the ground, Matt takes a look to the right and coming down a steep ravine edge, about 100 yards out, is the BIGGEST buck Matt has ever seen! The phone, suddenly a burning and flaming coal in his hand is shoved back into the pocket. Matt gasps in sheer surprise, terror, amazement – call it what you will – the air is suddenly hard to breathe and the heart, previously a fairly steady contributor to pulse and blood pressure, suddenly feels like an organ that will soon exceed its expected expiration date. Matt’s eyes bug out and he seemingly feels the blood drain from him – now, hands that seemed so sure during all those months of practice are as palsied as that of the oldest man in the county.
The deer passes through timber, coming diagonally toward Matt.
A flash of giant antlers.
His legs visible in the brush.
In full view now, at only 75 yards or so – he is recognizable.
It is HIM. It is THE ONE.
Matt knew. I knew, I knew, I knew, he thinks, in a split second.
Matt had told so few people about HIM.
But, he did know.
Calm, Matt, calm… his mind screams at him but his body does not listen. Wracked by extreme emotion, the adrenaline dump is nearly more than Matt can endure. Matt grasps the bow all the tighter, white knuckles popping out on the back of his hand and he…. (wait)
This entire story is about to erupt into pandemonium but before that happens, I need to take you back.
Hold on, hold on…. Listen, I told you (or at least I suggested) that we would quibble a bit, right?
Go on, now, and complain a bit – Jim, are you are gonna interrupt the story right at the good part???
Or, maybe you, dear reader, will you do the lazy thing and skip forward to read what you will?
Here is my promise – if you do that, you will not get the full import of the story. Of Matt’s story.
So, now that we have that out of the way and have agreed to stay and read together, let’s move back to happier and certainly less stressful times. Let’s call it the summer of the same year and we will start in the hot and sultry month of August, if it pleases you (as it does me).
Chapter 4 – Before the Collision
August 2016, hot and humid as always – arrived like a wet blanket over the state. Dogs lazed in yards and wives kept the thermostat pushed as low as the power bill would allow. The Braves were mired in an awful season – so not much was new in Georgia. The bright spot, one would suppose, would be that college football would soon start and would generate a buzz across the southeast – as it always did – but that was still almost a month away.
Also pending in Matt’s life was an even brighter spot – his upcoming marriage to Brittany, which would be in late September.
Oh, but there was another bright spot to come as August drug on.
At the start of the month, Matt had visited the small tract of land we have discussed. Unimpressed, Matt thought “I will just hang a camera or two and see what happens”.
Well – other than a few does and juvenile bucks – nothing happened. The cameras were checked weekly and there was just nothing to get excited about. Thank Goodness I have my primary hunting spots, Matt thought, cause I don’t see anything happening over here.
August wound down and Matt was busy with preparations for the marriage, work was hectic as always, football was cranking up – but, something big was about to come rolling down the turnpike… something that would rock Matt’s world and suck him, spinning and twirling, into a series of events that left him dazed and tormented.
As the month of August closed out, Matt made one last pass on the little tract to check the pictures.
You can stop the train right here folks – Matt’s eyes bugged out when, on a trail camera photo, he saw the most giant buck he had ever seen. On his camera. On that little tract. It was THE ONE, it was HIM…. This was a true 6×6 with stickers, crazy tine length, good width and excellent mass. In short, he was a monster. The type of monster of which legends are made. The type of buck that can make you an instant celebrity – or – if the world tilts just the wrong way – can break your heart.
Matt, cautious about this – told very few people. His family and close hunting buddies were the only ones he told.
The photos were are night, granted – but as September moved along, the buck was still in the area and still being caught on the camera. Finally, after the wedding and late in the month – he began to make some very late afternoon appearances on the cam.
He was still in the area and he was changing his pattern! Can he be targeted, Matt wondered? Can I be that lucky? Can my skills make this happen?
Matt was optimistic – but he still began to seek counsel. He asked his father and grandfather – on whom he relied greatly. He even spoke with Jackie Bushman at an Auburn football game – and the consensus was this: do not screw this up, because you may only get one good chance… wait, son, just wait – it is painful, I know – but wait until you get consistent full daylight photos of the buck and then be careful, get in there and wait for him to make a mistake.
Matt did wait.
The photo patterns did change.
Matt was careful.
The buck was still in the area.
It was late October and the time was now. The showdown was imminent, or so it felt.
Irresistible Forces versus an Immovable Object. In spite of the paradox created by this scenario, little doubt is left that the collision is harsh.
Now, friends, we know who THE ONE is – it is now time to return to 5 November 2016 and the sweet, awful, heart stopping events of that day.
It is HIM. It is THE ONE.
Matt had told so few people about HIM.
But, he did know.
And now, in a semi seizure like state, Matt gapes at the monster, who is not only 60-65 yards away. The antlers, known to Matt intimately via trail cam photos, now seem to dwarf anything he could even imagine. A regal creature – one that owns the world – is now passing at a quartering toward angle and has no idea Matt is there.
The next few moments, even though they happened in real time (and trust me, they really did happen) seemed at once to be at 5x speed and also, at the very same time, under water in slow motion – if both were possible.
Think, Matt, think…..
Act, Matt, act…..
The giant buck spots the smaller bucks and although his path brings him closer to Matt (as Matt’s seizure continues) his progress does not offer a clear shot due to timber and brush. He is grunting and his hair is standing up – and he charges the smaller bucks, immediately chasing them from the area. Their retreat does not suit the monarch and he charges, grunting again – to hurry them along their way… “They do not belong here and I will not have them in my area” is the clear message.
Now we reach a point where there is a decided problem. The buck is at 60 yards, is facing directly away from Matt. He has accomplished what he wanted, running off any potential competition – and he starts to take a few steps.
Steps in the wrong direction.
Steps that could take the buck out of Matt’s life.
Maybe even forever.
Think, Matt, think…..
Act, Matt, act…..
Matt made one long grunt followed by two shorter ones – maaaaahhhgh………….. maaagh, maagh.
The stop was INSTANTANEOUS.
The bucked jerked his head around, trying to find the source of any mutinous buck that might dare grunt in this area.
The buck turns now and immediately starts on a path – TOWARD the stand.
I would ask that you watch Matt very closely at this juncture. He is standing, white knuckles glowing and an available source of oxygen, which seems so easy for you and I to obtain, is in very short supply. Legs of an athlete now seem very rebellious and threaten to collapse, they are shaking so badly. In spite of the white knuckle grip – the palsied hand of an old man continues to hold the bow.
Think, Matt, think…..
Act, Matt, act…..
Matt knew the area intimately. He had ranged every distance, multiple times and knew every tree. Matt watched in sheer joy and simultaneous horror as the buck came up the trail – and Matt knew fully that the deer was going to pass on the other side of two large oak trees, that this would conceal his draw and the target would be fully broadside at 30 yards once he cleared the tree.
This CAN happen, Matt’s overloaded brain is screaming at a body that seems oh, so slow to react.
And yes, a LOT of things happened. In a compressed period of time.
The buck did pass behind the oaks.
Matt did draw.
The draw was unnoticed by the buck.
The buck did clear the trees and was now exposed.
The buck was broadside.
The arrow, when it left the 70 pound draw weight bow, was traveling somewhere in the neighborhood of 270 feet per second. At the calculated 30 yards, the arrow – now a streaking blur with only the tiniest bit of an arc – in the falling daylight of 5 November 2017, took roughly 350 milliseconds (ok, call it 1/3 of a second) to reach the target.
While the next seconds were not horror filled, they were not the immediate, sweet ending Matt was looking for either. The arrow was high a bit – and forward a bit – and it struck the buck broadside in the shoulder and did not fully penetrate. The giant buck mule kicks and races forward – straight toward the highway and stops after running 50-60 yards and just stands there.
“Fall” – Matt thinks “just fall” as he stands on the platform… still shaking and watching as hard as he can watch.
The deer is facing directly away from Matt, too far to shoot – and his tail is twitching back and forth. Rapidly. He stands, looking around, lowers his head and then turns and trots back in the direction from which he had come. The does, now aware that something is amiss, are blowing like crazy and moving back and forth. Matt’s eyes, however, are riveted on the buck. “Fall” – Matt thinks again… “just stumble now and fall” – but the gait and the direction of the buck are steady and within 100 yards, he is lost from sight.
Like he was never there.
Matt listens hard for something… anything. Sticks cracking. A deer running and then crashing in the underbrush and crackling leaves.
No sounds like this reach his ears.
The does cease their irritating blowing and they, too, leave.
Matt glances back toward the plot and the smaller bucks, too, are gone.
The sun, like the rest of the members of this happy band, will soon also be gone.
Matt stares a hole in the underbrush where the giant buck trotted off into. Gone…. No sign of him.
Oh, but that leaves one participant, doesn’t it?
That leaves our friend Matt, shaking and now sitting down in the stand – and his mind works like a DVD player… rewinding and replaying. Trying to glean every nugget of info… where the buck was when the shot was taken, exactly which direction he ran, the precise location where he stood still and finally, the exact path he took as he trotted back into the timber and out of Matt’s life.
Oh, let’s be precise about this too… as a veteran bow hunter Matt knows full well that the “trotting away” is not a good thing.
Matt’s mind swirls and races as 20 feet up, he feels like he is no longer a player in the drama – but is more of a prisoner in a 30’ x 24” cell. He replays the event again and again – looking at each location he feels is key to the evidence. The darkness is coming on now and Matt makes a command decision: “I gotta go look before it is fully dark”.
In spite of a racing heartbeat and the fact that he is already got somewhat of a sinking feeling in his stomach, Matt descends safely to the ground.
Matt walks to the spot where the deer was standing and looks back at the stand. Dang, he thinks… that does not LOOK like 30 yards. Out comes the range finder – 24 yards. Darn it, that explains the high arrow placement, a slightly more grim feeling Matt thinks. Matt carefully searches the area and finds no blood and no hair. Mmmmmhhhh, this is not looking good, folks. He retraces his steps back to the stand and takes another look. That IS exactly where he was standing – so back to the spot Matt walks. No blood. No hair. Maybe a few marks in the leaves where the deer kicked and took off.
Matt gathers his strength and resolve – walks back the stand – and gains his EXACT bearings. Settling down now – Matt locks into recovery mode. He picks out the area where the deer ran to and stood with twitching tail, keeps it in his mind and moves back to where to area where the deer was shot. In the now very rapidly falling light, Matt begins that slow walk as he scans left, forward and right and this is repeated with every now agonizing step. He is looking for blood, hair, footprints – anything that will help define how to find the deer. It is slow, it is painful – and the coming night is no friend to the process.
10 yards – 30 steps… nothing.
20 yards – 30 more steps – still nothing.
30 yards out now and another 30 steps – BLOOD! Dark, red blood. I am on the right path, Matt’s mind screams! He now moves even more cautiously, finding specks here, a splotch there and now, at 50 yards out, he finds blood but it has begun to seriously taper off now. The does have discovered in the intruder in their midst and are blowing like crazy… Matt casts about but can find anything significant and it is near total dark now.
OK, Matt thinks…. Let’s be smart about this. I am only one man. I do not have a good flashlight. I can do more harm than good.
Matt backs out and makes his way to the highway where he calls two buddies – Ed and Mac. They immediately gather lamps and heat toward the site. Matt sits and runs through the scenario time after time, replaying it – trying to make sure he has it ingrained as deeply as can be. He knows the woods do not look the same at night. Even with great flashlights. He is still on a euphoric high, though and confident that they will soon be doing high fives, photos will be taken and he will have his just reward!
His buddies arrive. A tracker with a hound is called in. Matt’s family arrives.
The group finds the blood trail and track is now on again! They find where the buck turned and the path he took after he stood still for a moment or so. There!! Just ahead – eyes glowing in the flashlight! Is he laying there wounded? Dead? They approach cautiously – and it is a small piece of trash laying in the weeds…. they were deceived.
An antler is found, from the previous year – and a big one, at that. This is no solace right now – we are looking for a deer.
Still confident, they are able, carefully and slowly, to track the deer to where he crossed a very busy 4 lane highway. Surely someone saw him, right? Would have blown the horn, perhaps? Nope… not this time.
Across the road they go, down a steep embankment, across a railroad track and up a steep embankment, they are still finding blood.
They crest the hill – and as suddenly as they picked the trail up, it is gone.
Re-trace back up the embankment.
Trail is still gone.
The group fans out, gently at first and they do a grid and slow circle search – being as careful as they can be to disturb nothing.
Trail is gone.
They widen and the grid and slow circle search.
The dog finds nothing.
They search more aggressively.
They begin, now, a simple blind search. The party has now swollen and some of the searchers are now 800-900 from the spot of the shot. Over a half mile.
They blind search until 12:00 am.
The trail – and the deer – are gone.
Matt sits now, defeated, on the tailgate of a truck with 12:30 am fast approaching. Drained by the event, drained by the euphoria and now drained by the defeat of the day, he is nearly a broken young man.
It is a short but agonizing night for Matt. Over and over again, the event is replayed in his mind. All of the mistakes, real or perceived, are reviewed over and over again. Rest, when it does come, is thin and unsatisfying. I was there. I was right – and HE was there. I had the stand in the right spot. I had the deer in the right spot. I really SAW that arrow streak to him. I just knew he was gonna fall. Fall, man, just fall….. Matt dreams – but these are not the pleasant dreams that find you awake and restful. These are bad dreams – dreams that torment.
Matt has no idea yet, but this nightmare has no intent of going anywhere. It dances on his shoulder, an impish devil, replete with pitchfork and horns, whispering into Matt’s ear…. I win…. You lose…. I win…. You lose…..
Oh, the search did not end that night.
The following morning found Matt, the dog with his handler, additional friends, his parents – even his grandparents on the scene. Every conceivable angle was pursued. All thought processes and theories were talked about and searched out.
No new sign.
They looked until 3:00 PM that Sunday until the momentum finally sagged. Sidelong glances and downturned mouths finally won over – and the search was called in late afternoon.
Still, the subject is not dropped.
Days pass and Matt’s mood – and his demeanor – suffer. Friends, family and co-workers ask about the hunt and the deer. The story is told and re-told which does nothing to help Matt’s mood and his outlook – this serves only to make the event even more indelibly ingrained as a sore subject.
He is tormented – and hey, who would not be with the impish devil for a near constant companion, one you cannot even escape in dreams.
Still, almost possessed – Matt returns and walks after work and on the weekends – even during lunch breaks at work– searching – always searching. Often during these searches and many times on his own – his grandfather continues to aid in the search.
Matt places cameras again back on the little tract and hopes to perhaps catch an image – could he have survived? Just let me know and get a picture, he thinks….
No pictures are forthcoming.
His grandfather asked a close friend that owned a plane and they fly – back and forth – over the area – just searching to see something.
No new sign.
Life continues and tries to return to normal – but for Matt, the devil is still there.
You know – the devil that makes you avoid the hunting channels.
The one that reminds you about that beautiful, wonderful, awful and depressing afternoon.
The same devil that drives you crazy in quiet moments.
I had him. I was right there. The deer was there. I saw the blood and tracked him. I should have been more alert. I should have had the range nailed down a little bit better. Maybe I pushed him too soon. Maybe I could have made a better shot. Maybe I don’t even deserve the deer. Maybe I am not the hunter I thought I was. Maybe this and maybe that.
Haunted dreams, filled with the joyous howls of the imp – seem to be the only real connection to the deer now.
Thanksgiving and Christmas offer no solution, yet time marches on and the pain, which Matt had hoped would subside – seemed to have hung in there. Long, way too long, Matt thinks. In what would be the final – almost forlorn – search, Matt and his grandfather searched for 2-3 hours the last weekend in January.
No new sign.
The days turn to weeks and the weeks to months – everyone knows and understands the all-powerful march of time.
No new sign.
Chapter 7 – Divine Intervention: Closure
I will have to tell this from my perspective and the names will remain anonymous.
The names have no bearing on the story – they story is all Matt and one deer. His parents, grandfather, wife and friends played a real role in the story – as did one final player (whom you shall meet in good time) but the rest of us just got swept up, innocently enough, in the maelstrom of events.
Months had passed and no news of the deer was heard. I would love to tell you that the pain – and constant thoughts of the deer – had lessened for Matt… but that was not the case. Not really. The conversations were fewer. Less people asked about the event. Only Matt’s grandfather would not accept that the deer was gone – and he continued to ask about the deer and offered to continue to search.
I tend to think – although I am very far removed from the event – that most people didn’t ask simply because they did not like the way Matt’s face tightened and his lips compressed when they did ask.
But pass the months did and we moved past the winter and into full blown spring time.
May in the south is a wonderful time of the year.
The mantle of cold, gray and wet has been lifted by Mother Nature and has been replaced by the bright greens of foliage and the bursting of flowers on trees, shrubs and in flower gardens. Seen more commonly now are short pants and tee shirts as the temperatures finally warm – and we move closer and closer to the start of summer. Turkey season winds down and the fishing rods are used on a much more frequent basis. Lawnmowers are heard in the afternoon and the air is redolent of newly mown grass.
Cell phones work fine in May also (and they have been VERY busy in the last day or so) – and, so, Matt’s rings one day.
Hello, this is Matt.
Hey, Matt, it’s your Dad – how ya doin?
Doing great, Dad – how bout you?
Fair to partly cloudy – you got a sec?
Sure, Dad – got all day, what you need.?
Son, that deer you lost back in November – do you have the trail cam pics on your phone?
Yeah, sure – you know I do – heck, I look at them altogether too often – but you know that. Why do you ask?
Just checking – can you send me a good photo of him?
Well…. Sure – but why do you need it?
Son, I think I know where that deer is.
(the earth moves just a little bit here, for Matt – and a sudden dryness of throat and heart palpitations begin…..)
Come on, Dad – don’t do this…. This is far too serious for me.
I’m the one that is serious, son – don’t say a lot to anyone and just send me the picture.
Come on, Dad – I need more than that – I am not sure you understand….
Trust me on this one, son – and send the pic.
You sure, Dad?
Yep, very sure.
No, son, you listen to me – just trust me, send me the pic and let me do what I do.
Man, you are killing me – watch for a text.
Got it – call ya later.
All right, Dad – see ya.
OK, readers – let’s back the train up from this phone call – just a little. Trust me, it is only a day or so.
An old deer hunter in South Carolina gets a text from a buddy (let’s call him guy #1) that shows a monster racked deer that was discovered by law enforcement personnel as they were doing canine training in the woods.
What woods, you might ask?
I would love to answer that question, but I think you know already. Don’t you?
Is it possible that these woods lie alongside a busy 4 lane road with a set of railroad tracks and a few steep embankments?
The old man in SC sends the photo to a different friend in Georgia (same general area, though) – someone he knows from hunting in the Midwest. In fact, the friend in Georgia helped the old man get started in the Midwest several years ago (a sin for which he has never been forgiven, if the truth were told).
The guy in Georgia immediately sends back a trail cam pic (looking very alive AND well) that is the VERY SAME deer that the law enforcement officer was holding.
The old man stares in amazement – and sends the “alive” trail cam pic back to guy # 1 – who is now seriously confounded…. How in the world did I just send you a picture of a deceased deer – and a very few seconds (all the way over in SC) later you send me a photo of the EXACT same deer… alive and on the hoof.
Phones start ringing and buzzing in Georgia – and just enough people knew just enough about the story that the dominoes start to fall… the dots got connected and we are very close to a solution!
Now…. Back to Matt! A few hours pass and Matt’s phone buzzes in his pocket. He has been on pins and needles this entire time – afraid to hope, reluctant to believe, thinking this can’t be true – but, hey, what if it is… no, I could not be that lucky – but, we all lightning can strike…. But that is just too far-fetched, right? Right? The emotions are driving Matt insane and now the phone is buzzing. Reluctant to even look – Matt pauses…
Listen, there is always a pause when the jury goes out to deliberate, right?
Matt looks at the phone – and it says on caller ID: Dad.
Dad. Simply Dad.
It is still buzzing, must be on – what – the 5th ring now?
Trembling fingers pull the phone to Matt’s ear – and he answers:
Hey Matt – how ya doing.
(tentatively) I am fine, Dad, all ok with you?
Sure, son – just wanted to follow up on that conversation we had earlier.
(afraid to ask) Dad – what… umm, what did you find out?
We found your deer, son.
(the ground seems to rush at Matt and his vision, clouds, his ears develop a tinny, ringing sensation) Dad, come one now – don’t…..
We found your deer, son. The story is too incredible and you probably won’t believe it – but I want you to take this number. He is a great guy and is a law enforcement officer who found your deer while they were doing canine training. The deer was no more than 200 yards from where we were looking. The dog found it – and he has the head and antlers. It is the same deer – no debate. He wants to give it back to you – personally.
(water swims in Matt’s eyes and that tinny sound is still there) Dad…. Dad, you are not fooling with me, are you?
No, buddy – it is your lucky day – got a pen and paper?
And so, other than the details and a meeting, the story ends here.
Matt goes to the officer’s house and when the man steps outside, in his hands are the head and antlers. Matt immediately recognizes the deer – he would know it from 100 yards away and now he stands mere feet from the deer.
The one that eluded him and created more torment than any one deer hunter should ever have to bear – at least in Matt’s opinion.
The same trembling fingers that reached for the phone now reach for THE antlers – and as his fingers close around the mass and his eyes gaze at the amazing symmetry, Matt is lost for words.
The officer stares.
Matt’s wife stares.
Matt stares too – but the emotions are so overwhelming, he does not speak for a great while.
Can I be this lucky?
I am not even sure I deserve this…
What felt like a permanent weight was now lifted off of his heart.
A strange feeling of connection to the deer.
What was lost is now found.
I was not wrong… my shot was not perfect, I admit – but I was not wrong. It really was HIM.
And so, friends – we really do close the story now. The deer was quietly celebrated among friends. He taped out at 163 3/8” inches gross and as you can see, he is nothing short of spectacular. Matt is having the deer measured officially after the beast returns from the taxidermist – I will update the tale with the final measurements when I have them.
The antler found the night they were searching for the deer? A shed, easily matched, of the deer Matt now has possession of.
Matt and the law enforcement officer remain friends and even fish together a few times per month.
Modest to a fault, all Matt really talks about is the genuine relief at finding the deer and putting a close to that chapter.
He is not a braggart nor an egotist.
He is a young deer hunter who got back a trophy he deserved and is thankful for it.
All hunters should aspire to be who Matt is. Day by day, if we work hard – we can move closer to that mark.
Respectfully submitted by Jim Boyd (the old man)
Footnote: all errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. Matt’s story is true and pure and I have tried to provide an untainted and factual replay. The only liberties I have taken and what “may” have happened with the deer that afternoon before he came into Matt’s view. I tried to think about and visualize how a monster buck like that might think and act. I also want to thank Matt for the opportunity to interview him, ride the story through with him and then be able, even with my limited ability, to try to get it on paper.