NAFOH: From the Archives

A Hunting Story for Thanksgiving

Davis, Norman interviewed by Scott Davis October 21, 1995. NA2424. Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History.

Though isolated, the area where the camp was located didn’t have a big herd, so the hunters didn’t always get game on their trips.  However, one time Norman scored big: he got a buck that weighed in at 234 pounds after being field dressed.

Norman: “The big deer… each year when we hunted in there we keep exploring a little bit further away from the tent; trying to find that perfect spot. I thought I’d found my perfect spot, like I say, down there on the edge of that cedar swamp. And I was walking along the edge, kind of a swampy area off to my right, and the knoll was off to the left, where there was a lot of hardwoods. And, I hit this game trail and I was sort of following along and I came to this big fir blow-down, and something just sort of told me that there was something there watching me. I took one more step and just heard this thing take off, it sounded like an elephant running. So I started making little loops to see if I could sort of get ahead it or catch up with it. And I tracked on the ridge side of where he was going, and every time I would come back down I would hit his track. Of course there was snow on the ground. And he’d already been there. After about the third trip I could see that he was slowing down, the third loop I should say. He was slowing down and had gone back to feeding. I guess he wasn’t scared anymore. And then on the fourth loop when I came back down to see if I could intercept him I spotted him. There he was, standing down there in those little fir trees and he looked as big as the tent. And I got pretty excited. And I- Yeah I up and put the scope on him, put the cross hairs right on his shoulders and fired, and he turned around and he ran right straight at me. Of course I had hit him, but he didn’t know where the shot came from. … So I hit him the second time when he was coming right straight at me. Yeah, that was that was quite an experience getting him out of there. We- there was five of us were pulling on him, and we pulled him just about a mile to where we got him up to where we could get the canoe. And to get the canoe there we had to cut out a bunch of trees that were across this beaver run, and we paddled down through. … And we paddled for probably a mile up through there. So it was quite an experience, like I say, getting the deer… to the canoe and into the canoe.

Norman had the distinction of tagging the biggest deer of the year for that area, so it was probably worth the trouble of getting it out.

Being isolated might have been the goal, but it also provided the setting for the following two short stories, one about helping (after startling) strangers and one about one of their own getting lost.

N: “I guess the first year we were in there, and there were some people from- I believe they were from Pennsylvania, came in and set up a little pup tent right near where we were. And of course they were doing all their cooking and eating outside, they had a little open fire, out there in a fire place, and one night after we had three or four drinks telling hunting stories we decided that we would go over and see how our neighbors were doing. And we were of course all in our long-johns setting around our little stove that we had inside the tent. And we wandered over there in our long-johns with our drink in our hand and they were setting out there around their fire, huddle out, just as cold as could be. They thought we were some crazy wandering around there in our long-johns. I believe it was snowing a little bit lightly that night too. (laughs) … Folsom’s Flying service flew them in. And dropped them off. They, in fact they said that when they went to Folsom’s Flying Service, they said they wanted to go into a real wilderness area where there wouldn’t be anyone else around. They were pretty disappointed when we showed up, but after we kind of took them under our wing and took them into our tent and warmed them up, fed them a good warm meal they were pretty glad that we were there, that they weren’t in just in the old wilderness by themselves.”

N: “I guess the most interesting one was Jerry Morton was kind of late getting back to the tent one night. He didn’t show up and so, of course, I mentioned earlier that he was the cook, so the only thing we could do was sit around there and have a few drinks, waiting for the cook to show up. And he didn’t show up. We went out and fired a few shots and finally we got him to answer. And he answered from way over on the other side of the lake. That- it had been dark for probably an hour or more. So we got out there and said well we’ll take the float plane and go over across the lake and find him. So we started up the float plane and started taxiing across the lake in the middle of the night, to find Jerry, and of course we headed in general direction of where we thought he might be and then we shut the plane off and listened. We had a couple of guys inside the plane, and a couple more were standing outside on the float. Of course the plane was only supposed to handle three people and we had five on it going to find Jerry. Well, after we got him there were six of us on there, and I’ll tell you, she was pretty well loaded down. But we shut the plane off and everyone would holler and listen and pretty soon we saw- he had a flashlight with him, and he kind of flickered it over on the shore. And we taxied over and got him.

S: So did he admit to being lost?

N: Oh yeah… He was just tickled to see us come and get him.”