Hi! My name is Michael Jr., but everybody calls me Lil’ Sir, or Mikey. I’m seven years old, and just started third grade. I’ll be eight soon. I got to skip a day of school last week, Friday, and I even got to leave a few hours early on Thursday. That was the last day of September. I missed the talent show, but I didn’t care. I got to miss school to go with my Dad to do what he said was to “get food the right way.” I had gone with Mom to the store a bunch of times before, and she usually got all the stuff on the list, so until recently I didn’t really know of a way that would be righter than that. Sometimes she even would get some stuff that I pleade… er… I mean emphatically suggested. We drove for a long time. It was nice to see all the different colors of the trees; they don’t have those in cities.
When the car stopped my Dad woke me up. “We’re here,” he said. I knew where we were, Grandpa John’s Cabin, but I only had been there in the summertime. We brought in our stuff and I watched TV while Dad made pizza. The picture was all fuzzy. After the show was over, Dad said, “We need some shut-eye, we’re gettin’ up early.”
Boy, He wasn’t kidding. He woke me up when it was still night time. We got dressed and walked in the woods. We walked for a really long time. We stopped and climbed up a tree. Dad said it was a blind. I thought it was just a small tree-house, and besides, I could see just fine. After about an hour I was getting all fidgety. Even though I had some beef jerky as a snack, I was kind of getting hungry too. I told my Dad I had to pee. All he said was, “OK, go pee.” I had never peed that far before.
Just after I finished peeing, I heard something. My heart raced 100 miles an hour. My Dad shushed me. Just then I saw it, a big fat deer with antlers as big as my arms. My Dad put an arrow on his string and drew back his bow. He didn’t move for what felt like forever. I felt like I was going to explode. The deer turned a little bit and moved his head. “Fssssssssssshhh… THWACK!” The arrow hit the deer a little bit above and behind his shoulder. The deer took about three quick steps, stumbled and fell down. I jumped up and down and yelled something, but I can’t remember what. We waited in the tree for a little while. My dad was breathing really heavy, I kind of was too.
We got out of the tree and walked up to the deer. My Dad got out his knife and I tried to look away. I knew that he was going to get the guts out, I remember the other dead deer I saw didn’t have any guts and you could see their ribs. I covered my hands with my eyes. My Dad said, “Mikey, you need to learn to do this some time,” so I peeked through my hands a little bit. My Dad talked a lot for the rest of the day. He said not to worry about leaving the guts in the woods, because the other animals would clean those up.
My Dad put the deer on his back and handed me his bow. The bow was as big as me and a little bit heavy, but probably not as heavy as a deer. We kept walking and we stopped a few times. The first time we stopped, my Dad showed me a tree with some bark missing. He called that a scrape, and said that the deer did that with his antlers. Next he showed me some little balls of poop and hoof prints in the dirt. He said that all these things were why he knew the deer would be there today. He also pointed at some really tall grass that was bent over… he told me that that is where the deers went in the morning and night.
We walked some more, and my Dad told me some stories. He said that before all the European people got here in America, that what we did this morning was the only way to get food, except for growing some plants yourself. He said that there weren’t any grocery stores, and the people that lived here “lived off the land.” He said that they didn’t just hunt deer, but buffalo, bison, boar, and all other sorts of animals. “They never let anything go to waste, and never took more than they needed,” he said.
We were walking kind of slowly, but I knew we were getting closer to the cabin. I remembered this big rock next to the funny looking tree from this morning. My Dad kept talking, but I didn’t really hear everything he said. He told me that if people didn’t hunt the deer, then there would be too many of them. They would start living too close to the cities, and go where deer shouldn’t be. He said that people could get hurt or even die trying to not hit the deer that crossed the big roads. He also said that if too many deer lived too close together, that they would get sick. This reminded me of when they were painting the school last year and they moved the other second graders into our room. Everybody got the flu.
When we got back to the cabin my Dad put the deer on a rope and left him outside between the two trees with the board nailed to them. Dad told me to go use the bathroom if I had to, he said we were going into town and it was kind of a long drive. We went to this place that looked like a little farm. They had a red shack right near the road. Inside there were barrels and crates filled with vegetables. They also had this big dog with dirty white fur that just got to walk around wherever he wanted. He was so hairy that you couldn’t even see his eyes. We got corn, green beans, carrots, and potatoes; the regular and the sweet kind. We also got a jug of cider and some doughnuts. The nice lady gave me a green apple on a stick that had been dipped in caramel and had some crushed nuts. It was really gooey and made my teeth stick together, but was really good. We said goodbye to the people at the little farm store and started driving again.
We stopped at this place with a big sign that said Buck’s Archery. Inside they had all sorts of animals. My Dad told me that they were able to keep the dead animals from smelling because of a something called taxidermy. He said that a lot of people don’t like that, but it’s not really so different from the natives that used to use all parts of the animal, now they are just used in a different way. He told me that the furs and skins of the dead animals used to be used by the natives to make clothing and build their houses. He said that since we already had clothes and houses, people being able to enjoy the majestic beauty of the forest animals without having to go to the woods, is a good enough modern use for the dead animal hide. The guy behind the counter measured my arms and my height. Then he had me stand on a line and draw back a little bow. My Dad gave the guy some money and got a slip of paper. Then we left.
When we got back to the cabin we went for a walk to the old creek that I used to catch frogs at in the summertime. We saw two baby deer on the way there. I threw some rocks in the water and a couple of fish jumped while we were there. On the way back there were these really fast birds in the trees that almost flew by and hit me in the face. They startled me something awful, but I didn’t yell or nothing. When we got back I watched some more of the fuzzy TV and Dad was in the other room for a while. Our dinner was huge, which was good, because all I had so far that day was a bag of beef jerky and that caramel apple. The steak was as big as my head. It was kind of spicy, but I ate the whole thing. I even cut my pieces myself. It was really good.
After dinner Dad told me about why this steak was so much better than the usual meat we get from the store. He said the cows that the steak comes from are fed chemicals to make them fatter so there is more steak. He said that they walk around in their own poop and that there is a lot of it, cows poop every five minutes, and some of that gets into the meat. The way they kill the cows isn’t really fair… the cows don’t even have a chance to get away or nothing. The put the cows on a conveyer belt, like the ones for people at the airport. They are on the side of a building with a hole in it. Then the conveyer belt turns into the building, they shine a light in the cows eyes so they can’t see, then they shoot them in their heads. My Dad said that the steaks are a little bit better than the ground beef because they don’t grind up the steaks. When you eat a hamburger or a cheeseburger you could be eating parts from fifty cows! I think I like venison better than cheeseburgers now. My Dad said venison is the word for deer meat, the way that we call cow meat beef.
I was really tired because we had a long day so I only watched the fuzzy TV for a little while longer. I must have really slept in. It was bright like the middle of the day when I woke up. There was a soft camouflage case at the foot of my bed with a tag that had my name on it. Inside was the bow that I held for a while yesterday at that Buck’s place with all the animals. There were also 12 arrows that were just like my Dad’s only my size. My new bow was green and said Lil’ Sir on it, right next to where it said “Lil’ Grizzly.” I hurried up and got dressed and grabbed my new stuff. By the door there was a foam target that was the shape of a deer. There was a bull’s-eye on the deer right where my Dad’s arrow had hit the real deer yesterday.
My Dad was over by the shed cutting some wood with the big axe. I ran over there as fast as I could to thank him. He helped me set up the target, and put on the glove that only had three fingers. He showed me that the different color part of the arrow (that he said was a fletching) had to be facing out. I held the bow with my right hand and drew back the string with my left, just like my Dad. He said I needed an anchor point that was the same every time. I just tried to do what he said he does and gently rest the very tip of his pointer finger in the corner of his mouth. He showed me a couple of different grips, I like the regular one the best. When I tried the one he called the Mongolian claw I lost one of my arrows, so I’m not going to do that again. He told me to practice and not to walk anywhere where I couldn’t see the cabin, and to keep the walkie-talkie with me. I practiced all day and got 9 bull’s-eyes and 13 almost bull’s-eyes. I hit my arm with the bowstring three times so it was all red for a couple of hours, but it didn’t really hurt that bad.
Just when I was getting done practicing, I saw Dad coming from the other trail that we didn’t walk on yesterday. He had another deer! This one wasn’t as big and didn’t have any antlers. Those are girl deers and they are called does. He put the shed light on and got a tarp from inside. He covered part of the car with the tarp and then put both deer there and tied them up. He said we were going home early in the morning, so I should gather all my things and pack them in the car. The first thing I packed was my new bow, I didn’t want to forget that. We both had big steaks for dinner again, but this time I didn’t eat all of mine. I think that’s because my potato was bigger than yesterday.
On the drive back we stopped at this place and Dad and some other guy took both the deer off the top of the car. Dad said that he was going to cut up the meat for us and that we got a discount because we donated some to the food bank and the shelters. When we got home the next day I told Mom of all the things we did and she smiled. Our dog Rufus wouldn’t stop sniffing me and all of the stuff that we brought back. I couldn’t wait to tell all the kids in Mrs. Wilson’s class of what I got to do on Friday while they were watching a silly talent show and learning about Christopher Columbus. I think that is my new favorite weekend ever… or maybe just tied for first. When we went on vacation to California last year would be hard to move to second place. So that was my weekend in October… and it was cooler than yours.