Last month, I wrote a spellbinding tale about when in school at ETSU, I was able to locate a good hunting area and down a 7-point buck. As I drag the buck down the wooded ridge to the main road, the story continues…
I was making good time down the ridge until I came to a fence and a field? Private property!! Not exactly what I was expecting! At the end of the field, I could see the roof of a farmhouse and some outbuildings. Now what!? Would the natives be friendly? I had visions of a goofy looking kid playing a banjo on the porch! Was that “dueling banjos” I heard echoing in the distance hollows!?
Rather than backtracking I decided to take my chances crossing the private property. As it turned out, the man that greeted me was very friendly and even offered to take me to get my vehicle. So far, so good.
These days I tend to plan out and over-think everything I do. Not so much back them! At that time, I was driving a small bright orange ’74 Vega GT hatchback. I had given no thought as to how to transport a deer. I wasn’t about to put it inside on the carpet, even if it would fit! There was no rack on the roof. The only place left was to tie it across the hood. At least there I could keep an eye on it!
Down the road I went! After a quick stop at a checking station, I drove around Watauga Lake until I got to the main 4-lane highway through Elizabethton and Johnson City, TN. Try to visualize a small bright orange chevy Vega, with a buck tied across the hood, driving down a main city thoroughfare! I got a lot of stares, a few thumbs up, and several honking horns until I made it to the dorm parking lot.
Now I had another problem! Where was I going to hang the deer to skin it out? I guess I could have hung it in a tree near the dorm, but that didn’t seem like the right thing to do. Imagine trying that on one of our local university campuses! Folks can be easily offended.
Legend has it that my roommate once found a deer below Elk River falls and decided that it shouldn’t go to waste. Somehow, he brought it back to the dorm and thought it would be best to clean it up in the shower room! Unfortunately, someone entered the shower, saw the bloody mess, and thought a murder had taken place! As I understand the police were called but no charges were filed!
This seemed like a good idea to me! Except for the meat and hide, most everything else could go down the drain or be flushed. I decided it would be best to pursue other options.
During my many weekend excursions driving the back roads in East Tennessee, I had also discovered a public shooting range. It consisted of a wooded 100-yard shooting lane with a berm at the end. The bench and seat consisted of huge logs that even the hardiest of vandals couldn’t destroy.
That said, that’s where I went to skin out the buck. There wouldn’t be a mess to clean-up and I could leave the unwanted parts for critters to devour. With garbage bags on the carpet, the carcass would fit under the Vega’s hatch for transport. But I still needed a place to hang the deer until I could quarter it out and process the meat.
I knew some folks in nearby Jonesboro that had given me the key to their house for use in case of an emergency, but they were out of town for the holiday. That could work. They wouldn’t mind, and there was a walkout basement giving easy access. I only needed to let them know what I had done before they came home.
What I didn’t know was that they were coming back a few days early! The lady almost had a heart attack when she walked down the basement steps and nearly ran into the fresh carcass hanging from the ceiling. She thought a serial killer had invaded her house!? It wasn’t long until they figured out who the culprit might be. Another story that I’m sure is told to this day.
From that point on the details get a little fuzzy, so thus ends the saga of the Tennessee buck!!
Until next time…!!!