The Deer Survived
Edited by Anne Goddard
Copyright 202 by Lew Goddard
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
old green John Deere D tractor was under my control in a field
belonging to my-brother-in-law who had married one of my sisters. I
was fifteen. Summer fallowing was a common practice wherein no crop
is grown and plant life is controlled by cultivation or chemicals
during a season when a crop might normally be grown. My
brother-in-law hired me to cultivate eighty acres where no crop would
be grown this particular season. The weather had been seasonally hot
with today reached more than eighty degrees. Our afternoon meal, we
called it supper then, was called at five fifteen. I was forced to
wash my hands and face before entering the farm house. Besides, I
took my shirt off and shook it violently to rid it of most of the
dust, plus I used a straw broom to clean some of the dirt from my
pants and shoes.
I mention that my sister was a hard fastidious and worked very hard
to keep her kitchen as clean as possible? Of course, it was
was now about six thirty and I could still feel the sweat running
down my chest under my short-sleeved shirt. There was certainly no
need for a jacket. Darkness was a couple of hours away and then the
temperature would drop to less than fifty degrees and perhaps less by
any one of you remember the type of tractor I was driving? Today,
some people would describe the old green D as miniscule compared to
the monsters that roam the fields in grain growing country now. Some
are equipped with eight rubber-tired wheels about six feet high. Iím
sure you wouldnít use it to cultivate your Grandmotherís
disc was merely sixteen feet wide. Feature acres about a half mile
long and approximately eight hundred feet wide. It would probably
take two day or more to cultivate all eighty acres, using a mere
sixteen feet with each trip. Donít forget that the tractor was
moving slightly faster than an aggressive walk.
from the monotony of the rumble of the two-cylinder engine and
keeping the cultivator reclaiming as much land as possible with each
swipe, Deer and other wild animals would be seen foraging on green
plants where the space had remained uncultivated. At this time of
evening the Deer and other came out to enjoy the cooler air and feed.
It was not unusual to see a Buck and Doe searching outside the copse
of trees along the south side of the property. In fact, there were up
to five animals if feed was plentiful. Infrequently there was a
streak across in front of the machinery. A lone coyote joined the
deer occasionally, didnít allow me to get too close.
particular evening was a bit out of ordinary with me and the animals.
I had progressed about halfway along the north side of my territory
and the tractor quit running. It just quit. That had never happened
before. Looking around where Iíd stopped there were three deer
to the east just ahead, I knew they couldnít help, but the farm
yard was a very long way to walk. I donít know why I checked
the level of the gasoline in that particular receptacle but, it rang
the bell for me. The tank was empty. That sounded like a logical
reason for failure. However, the old D would only start on gasoline
and when it was hot one would turn the switch to the other tank. It
contained Distillate. Very much cheaper to run and in fact, a bigger
tank. Should I switch the lever to the appropriate fuel? Would
something blow up? I felt that I was in a relatively safe position
sitting on the driverís seat.
mind told me to go for it. I changed the lever to the right fuel.
Made sure the hand clutch was in neutral and reached my right foot
over to press on the spring-loaded starter button. The immediate
throat clenching explosion out of the upright exhaust pipe nearly
knocked me out of my seat, Well, I jumped so fast, I almost fell.
Deer that had been eating ahead, just disappeared. They didnít
just rush into the trees to be safe, they vanished. All three
virtually flew away, while I watched a blast of fire from the exhaust
examined the outside of the exhaust pipe which rose a little more
than three feet higher straight up above the top of the tractor. It
was at least six inches in diameter and it didnít look any
different. Not even blacker or punched out. It appeared to be doing
its job. The motor was running smoothly.
next afternoon, the summer fallowing was complete. Having turned over
many acres of soil, it was a sight that could only be viewed on a
farm where the soil was so black. Rows of the soft earth could be
seen where they ran east and west, north and south plus all the
corners that were travelled.
brought the tractor and disc up near the garage where my
brother-in-law was thoroughly examining the combine, making sure
there were no parts missing, all chains were tight and every joint
that needed grease was well endowed.
came over and looked the tractor over and said, ďGreat job,
thatís a huge help with harvest over the horizonĒ. When
he glanced toward the south, he turned to me and asked if I could see
the huge Buck standing on the freshly turned black earth. His stature
represented his pride with huge antlers raised above his head.
a beautiful animal, I have an idea,Ē my in-law admired, turned
and walked into the garage. Coming back toward me, he held a rifle.
the rifle was offered to me.
you ever shot a 30-30 rifle?Ē he asked.
fact, I had never seen one, let alone handle it.
retrieved the gun and held the stock to his shoulder as if to shoot.
I noted that he was adjusting what was called the scope, and returned
it to me. ďSet the stock against your right shoulder since you
are right-handed, and look through the scope at that Deer. Find the
through the magnification brought the Deer much closer, seemingly not
more than a hundred feet away. It was amazing.
he said, aim at the Deer and make sure the cross hairs are centered.
When they are on your target, hold the rifle stiffly to your shoulder
and slowly pull the trigger. Try to hit it in the head if you can.Ē
registered the cross hairs as he suggested and could see his big
brown eyes and magnificent rack. He hadnít moved much but was
now waiting for the Does to catch up to him. I could just make out
the snouts of two of them.
had a number of emotions flying through my mind. I lowered the rifle,
turned back to my brother-in-law and quietly said, ďI canít
do it.Ē I returned the rifle and without a word from him, he
took it back to the garage. He didnít return.
this time in my life, I have never intentionally killed any animal,
wild or domestic.
have to retract part of that statement.
Father owned a small business in my home town, he owned and cared for
two Clydesdale mares to work for him. In warm months, they would be
stationed in the small one-acre pasture on the south side of town
when there was enough grass to feed them and allow them to enjoy the
freedom of being in the open often running and kicking up their
gophers would establish the deep holes for a home. It was decided
that if that happened, I took my 22 Caliber rifle, lay on my stomach
and wait for the ever-curious gopher to raise its head. It would be
eliminated. The hole was filled and carefully packed. This endeavor
enabled the horses to walk and run without danger of sprains or
seventy years ago, the Deer survived.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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