Tandem, An American Love Story

Deer Business

It is cold and still, the moon well below the ridge. The Milky Way fogs a streak of infinity overhead and the Big Dipper rides impossibly high over the north horizon. Everything else is deep black. Not a light to be seen, or hint of light over the horizon.

WT’s flashlight paints stark shadow forms: prickly pear, creosote bush and deadly lechuguilla darts, the shadows glide against and under one another. The rocks he crunches under cowboy boots, and heavy breathing are the only sounds — the coyotes have not found the deer yet.

Now he swings the flashlight half-circle, lighting the brush and thorn higher up, looking for the handkerchief he tied to the buggy-whip ocotillo to mark the mule deer he left gutted before dark. I wait and hope too.

WT has been having chest pains lately and when he told me of the mulie he’d shot that had wandered away. I volunteered to help drag it out. Nephew Scotty, who was supposed to help him was late, and WT was afraid the coyotes had found it. Just as we were about to leave, Scotty arrived and the three of us took Big Red to a spot close to the fence. We coursed the rough hillside repeatedly without luck. Having only sandals and wool socks, I was terrified of all the nasty spikes hiding in the dark, particularly the lechuguilla which has barbs, and stiff enough to pierce a foot. I hadn’t told WT of my minimal footwear for fear he would try and drag the deer out by himself. Talk about living in the moment. I was as alert as I can ever remember being.

After about an hour, WT’s light found the handkerchief and the deer. Scotty and I started dragging. He’s in his 40’s and smokes heavily and he gave out about every 30 yards, so it took us a good while to drag it the third of a mile to the truck.

At each stop I stood, neck back, gawking at the crisp heavens, seeing as many stars as I have ever seen anywhere.

Today we skinned and quartered the deer. His legs were full of lechuguilla spikes, broken off deep in muscle.


Tandem, An American Love Story — 3 Comments

  1. Thanks for the memories, and the update on your own adventures. That last few days back to Sequim was bitter-sweet after more than a year on the road. We’ve never been the same; a good thing.

  2. What a marvelous and beautifully descriptive article about a simply amazing woman – Karen Landis. I’ve had had the serendipitous experience to create and nurture a friendship with Karen after I underwent a hip replacement and three hip fractures and realized I needed to request the local “Meals on Wheels” service. And of course, if she didn’t have enough on her plate, Karen serves the Chino Valley community two days a week by delivering meals to people in my circumstance.
    I loved Karen the first moment I met her. And when we started chatting I knew I had met a soul mate. I’ve been looking all my life for a role model, a hero, an amazing example of humankind. I don’t know if she realizes what an outstanding example she is of a strong, independent, intelligent, talented woman. Sometimes as women, we have a dentency to undervalue ourselves. But Karen, I want you to know you are the real deal. You are just so beautiful in your authenticity. And I a so appreciative of the value you have added to our environment by caring for the land and the animals under your watchful care. Your abilities and strength simply boggle my mind. And thank you for your loving service to me these past four months. You rock girl!

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