A Little Deer Hunting Nostalgia – Day 27

Our hunting camp is a five-hour drive from home. My family has been going there since before I was born. On Wednesday my gunwriting assistant and I made the trip to build a new bathroom. With temperatures above 100, compounded with trying to install a toilet, sink and shower on a concrete floor with only 6’9″ of headroom, it would probably been a less complex task to weave rattlesnakes.

Anyway, in the field beside the camp we did see a momma bear with three cubs. (Black bears with 3 cubs is highly unusual.) With the project 3/4ths complete we headed home this morning. Driving into Monterey, VA I noticed the old Exxon station beside US 220 where my Grandfather would always stop to fill up his Chevy truck. (Pa never owned nothing but a Chevy. Wonder what he would think about me driving a Nissan Frontier?)

In Grandpa’s time, this had been a full-service station; small with a public restroom and a glass counter filled with candy and such. I remember there was also one of those old soda pop coolers with the lids on top and the bottle opener on the side.

We stopped and while I was filling up the tank I told Bat to go inside and look at what was hanging above the door. He did and when he came back out his eyes were wide. He said, “Is that a deer? It’s huge!” (Bat has only hunted whitetail deer so to him a deer is a deer.)

45 Year Old Whitetail Mount

The Exxon Whitetail

“I said, “Yep. I used to stop here with your Great Grandpa every time we came to the camp. I’d look at that deer and dream and Grandpa would buy me a Pepsi and a Zagnut.” (Pepsi was the only soda pop Grandpa would drink. Grandma drank Ginger ale.)

I stepped inside to use the restroom and the young man working the station said, “Your boy sure liked that deer.”

I told the attendant I’d been looking at that deer for 45 years. He smiled and said, “He’s going to look a lot better soon. We’ve got a new cape and I’m getting ready to take him to the taxidermist and get him fixed up. That mount has been hanging here since ’64 when the original owner of this station killed him.”

I climbed back in the truck and headed south thinking; same deer new skin – time changes and it doesn’t. Bat was silent and after a ways I looked over and he was staring out in space, eating his Kit Kat bar and drinking a Coke. I said, “You alright son?”

He turned and looked at me and his eyes were still wide. he said, “Someday I want to kill a deer like that.”

I grinned. Thought about how many times I told my Grandpa the same thing and said, “Me to son…Me too.”


About gunwriter

Born and raised in the West Virginia hills, Richard literally grew up in the woods. He has chased coon hounds until daylight, waited out whitetails perched high in an oak, canoed the New River and hunted from the Montana Mountains to the Green Hills of Africa. During service in the Army and later as a municipal police officer and Special Agent with the railroad police, Richard obtained numerous certifications in small arms instruction. He has trained military personnel, law enforcement officers and civilians in the application of firearms for defensive, competitive and recreational use. Richard won the West Virginia Governor’s Twenty Award for law enforcement, the West Virginia National Guard State Pistol Competition and earned his Distinguished Medal with pistol. Badge turned in, Richard is now a contributing editor for several magazines. He was the compiling author of the book, Rifle Bullets for the Hunter and conceptualized and contributed to Selecting and Ordering a Custom Hunting Rifle. Richard also contributed a chapter to the John Velke book, The True Story of the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency. Richard has patents on a riflescope reticle and a revolutionary bullet testing media. A hillbilly at heart, Richard lives on Shadowland - his shooting range in West Virginia - with the most understanding wife in the world, their three kids and a very protective ridgeback hound.
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