It was that particular crispness in the pre-dawn air that got Jasper up and out early. He wasn’t going to the diggin’s today but had something else in mind.
After Arthur finished his kibble, Jasper tied him outside the cabin door and tried hard to ignore the look of accused betrayal on his pal’s face. Then Jasper got down the rifle and closed the door softly behind him.
A walk through the forest carpet of 15 minutes took him to that little rock outcropping that Jasper had discovered more than 40 years earlier. He set the barrel of the rifle on a short log and sat down. Only Jasper’s camouflaged face showed over the rock outcropping.
Then came the wait. The delicious anticipation. Time after time he checked the direction of the wind. He knew he was doing well when a squirrel came headfirst down a nearby pine and whisked around within six feet of Jasper.
Then, about ten, and just about the time Jasper was thinking how good another cup of coffee would taste back at the cabin, the woods went deathly quiet. Jasper went on full alert. He saw the antlers first, coming through tall brush. Two steps. Stop. One step. Stop. Hold there for long seconds, then another step. Jasper sat quietly. Two more steps. Stop. In a minute the buck would emerge at 30 yards, broadside, from behind a tree. It was going to be a classic hunting shot.
And then, after a few more steps, the big buck was there, broadside. Jasper waited until the deer turned his head to look back the way he came. Then, in one fluid movement, Jasper brought the rifle to his shoulder, put the front bead on that spot behind the buck’s shoulder, and quietly said, “Bang.”
Then he grinned and waved as the buck bounded away.
Back at the cabin, Jasper rubbed Arthur’s ears and gave him a detailed account of the hunt.
“And I didn’t have to pack in all that meat, either,” he said. “Tomorrow? A turkey hunt, I think.”
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