By Dennis Adams (© 1999 Dennis Adams)
(Story continued from Part I in Jan 2021 Newsletter.)
Now began the search for the now almost hairless dog, which was not in sight. It should be evident to you by this point that Chico was not steady to wing and shot. He was easy to find because all you had to do was follow the smell of burned dog hair and he was found standing point at the far end of the field. Once again the shooters approached the point anticipating the shot only this time with a slight look of fear on their faces. The bird flushed and crumpled in a puff of feathers. I could almost here the shooters giving thanks for not missing the shot and having to be berated again. The dog ran forward for the retrieve and I thought all would go well at this point. However, I guess the dog had worked up an appetite because he immediately ate the bird.
The hunt continued much along the same lines for the remainder of the afternoon. Upon our return the lodge the customers paid the owner and departed as quickly as they could. Appearing happy to be rid of Larry and his wonder dog and to have just survived the hunt. I asked the owner why he would allow his paying customers to be abused in such a manner because it could not be good for future business? He stated that it was out of mercy.
After I got to know Larry over the next year I understood what our friend and owner of the hunting preserve meant by saying that it was out of mercy. You see Larry had a brain tumor and his illness was terminal. Larry faced this illness like he faced everything in life and that was head on. He at no time complained of the difficult card life had dealt him.
Surgery was performed on him several times not to save his life but to extend it a little and to make him more comfortable. One major surgery he had was extremely nasty and required the entire top of his skull to be removed. The reason for this was so the doctor could remove as much of the tumor as he could to relieve some of the pressure. I recall him showing up at the hunting preserve with his dog to take out customer’s just days after his release from the hospital. The top of his head was held back in place with medical staples and bandages. We all expressed our concern for his well being and told him that he should be home in bed and not out hunting. His response was simple and straight forward when he stated that he had little time left and he meant to use it doing something he enjoyed. He not only hunted that day but also continued to hunt on a regular basis right to the very end.
After reading this far you may think that I did not take our friendship seriously and even make jokes of it but I assure you that is not the case. We just had a lot of good times that always brings a smile to my face when I look back on them. I had the great honor of knowing a man that I came to admire greatly. I was able to learn more about our short lives that God gives us on this earth from our friendship then if I would have read a hundred books on the subject. I have known many brave men who had to face situations that involved death but never anyone who faced certain death with such determination and bravery.
The end came about a year later when he was doing what he liked most and that was deer hunting with his bow. He had been hunting an area for a couple of weeks that he had seen a nice little buck in. He had seen the buck several times but distance or an obstruction always prevented him from making a shot. In past years Larry had killed many really nice bucks with his bow but this little buck held him with a certain fascination. He had not been feeling well for several days and that made him hunt the little buck with even more determination. One evening while setting on his tree stand his head began to hurt and he became dizzy. He lost consciousness and fell but always one for safety; he had his safety belt on. When he regained consciousness he was able to reach the ground safely. He then gathered up his bow and went home leaving his stand up the tree. That night he was taken to the hospital where he lost consciousness and remained that way for several days. The phone rang late one night and the friend of ours who owned the shooting preserve told me that Larry had died. The end had come quickly for Larry.
I never had the opportunity to talk to Larry after he was taken to the hospital so the results of his last evening’s hunt were unknown. To my knowledge he never regained consciousness. It was the following deer season that I was in the same area of his last hunt. It was in the afternoon and I was doing some scouting prior to placing my tree stand for a hunt the next morning. I happened to notice a tree stand that had a weathered look about it and it was obvious that the stand had been in place since last season. I approached the stand and stared in disbelief when I realized that it was Larry’s old stand. I had seen it many times when he carried it into the woods when we hunted together. Even his homemade grunt call still hung on a peg on the side of the tree above the stand.
I decided that I would leave his stand in place and might even use it myself if the deer changed their pattern and moved closer to it. Then after the season I would take it down and return it to Larry’s wife who had remained in the area after his death. I had moved about seventy yards to the right of the stand when I noticed the fletching of an arrow in the leaves. Upon moving closer, I noticed part of the rib cage of a deer under the arrow. I picked the arrow up and the shaft was bent badly but it was obvious that the arrow is what had killed the deer. It was also obvious that the arrow had belonged to Larry because his name was painted on the shaft beside the cock feather of the fletching. I ranked around in the leaves and was able to find part of a small buck’s rack. Most of it had been eaten away by small woodland rodents over the past year but it was evident that Larry had gotten an arrow in the little buck on his last hunt.
I looked back up at his old weathered tree stand and could almost see Larry setting there looking at his watch. He was always one to ensure you always waited at least forty-five minutes after making a shot before you took up the trail. To fail to do so was a cardinal sin in Larry’s way of thinking. I can only assume that is what he was doing on the evening of his last hunt when he lost consciousness and fell. I figured since this spot had brought such enjoyment to Larry that he might return. I decided at that point to leave his stand in the woods just as he had left it. I put my stand up on my shoulders and moved off to another ridge. Several years have passed since that day and I have never returned to Larry’s spot. I can only hope that his stand is still in place and that he visits it from time to time to watch for that little buck.