Simply Lou: The Big One
article and illustration by Lou Davenport
It’s that time of year again when a majority of men, especially Southern men, go “buck wild crazy.” Deer Season! I think “bow season” is already going on, and it won’t be long until it’s “primitive weapons” season. Then, it gets really serious. Firearms, if you “still hunt,” and then after that, you can hear the dogs a-running! Shoot em up, boys!
This madness goes on for several months. I can speak pretty knowledgeably about this, because I was married to one of these “buck wild crazy deer huntin’ men!” And, I grew up around more of these crazed deer hunters. All of them were always stalking “The Big One.” And the planning for all this starts way before any of the so called “seasons” even start. Gotta get all that gear ready! Stake out the best place for the stand! Look for those scrapes on trees! Do you have your deer musk? (deer pee…ugh)
I met Larry Davenport, when I was 20 years old. I heard all his deer stories. I didn’t really know what I was getting into when he asked me if I wanted to go hunting with him. Well, I was wanting to show him I wasn’t some “little Southern Belle,” so I agreed. We walked for what seemed like 20 miles to me. I was tired. I was hungry. I wanted a smoke. I was thirsty. Let’s put it this way; I was NOT enjoying this, but I was a trooper, and I kept my mouth shut until….he mentioned, “You could be the dog and run ahead and bark.” That Southern Belle came out. “I beg your pardon, sir, but I am no DAWG!” He just downright insulted my Southern Belle sensibilities! That hunt didn’t last much longer after that, thank goodness! He sure did know how to “woo a woman.”
It would take 20+ years for me to go deer hunting with him again.
Larry had a knack for buying gifts for me. I got a brand new fishing rod for Mother’s Day once. When I had our first child, Carolyn, I got some roses with a card that said “Congratulations, Larry Davenport.” And I only got roses three times from him,whenever I had a baby.
Larry was a quiet man. But, if he had something to say, it was usually worth hearing. He was a good man, sometimes a rascal, and loved me and those three little Davenports for sure. We loved him beyond words. From the end of deer season until the next one opened, he was his normal self.
But, the closer Opening Day got, he began to transform into some other person. He stood up on the roof and shot his bow at a hay bail with a target. He got all his toys out. Cleaned, oiled and went to sight in the guns. The only time I ever shot a gun was when I was asked to go “bless the sighting of one of his new guns.” He put that big ol’ gun up to my shoulder. It was so heavy, I almost couldn’t hold it up. When I shot it, that thing kicked me to the ground right on my butt! I even got a bruised shoulder. He laughed! He knew that gun was going to do that to me! Well, that “elephant gun” as I named it, did not get blessed that day. It got cussed.
I even bought him a muzzle loader for a Christmas present one year. I know nothing about guns, so one of his friends told me he would go with me, and he knew just where to go to get a deal. We drove off into the backwoods somewhere between Jackson and Vicksburg. We finally came to a warehouse. Then, I got scared. Inside were big crates and scary looking men. I thought what have I gotten myself into? Finally a normal looking guy came over. I told him what I needed, he got the gun, and I quickly paid him….cash! Then, he told me since he liked me, he was going to give me a free bag…for the balls! Balls!? Those things shoot balls? I grabbed that free bag with balls and got out of there. The things we’ll do for love! My heart didn’t stop racing until we got back on I-20 headed for Vicksburg!
The gift was a huge success, but I had to tell him the lengths I went to to get him that thing. I seriously think I had bought from a gun runner! I could imagine myself getting caught there during an ATF raid!
So, it’s the day before Opening Day again, and Larry Davenport was like a little kid. He talked non stop. He was giddy with excitement. I’d just leave him up talking and go to bed. I’d just tell him good night, I’ll see ya when I see ya. Hope you get “The Big One!”
We wouldn’t see much of him during the season. He would leave before daylight and come dragging in way past dark. Rain, sleet or snow, he was out there. I even saw him with ice on his mustache one time! But, he was happy, “crazed” and tracking “The Big One.”
A day came that he asked if I wanted to go with him. I thought since it had been 20+ years since I had gone, I’d go. And he knew better than ask me to go “be the dog!” I also counted on him not staying too long, because he was going to have to put up with me. WRONG!
It was one of the darkest, dreariest days. A cold drizzle fell. What was I thinking? Everything was gray…cold and gray and wet. I was miserable, before I even got there. And it was so early, I hadn’t had my pot of coffee.
We hiked down a pig trail, and we walked and walked and walked. By this time, I was getting grumpy and whiny. I had to put on this red poncho to stay semi- dry, and my feet were freezing. He finally found a good place. He told me I had to be quiet. Me? I stayed as quiet as I could, until I got to squirming around trying to get somewhat comfortable. I wanted some coffee. I wanted a smoke. I was hungry. In my near delirium, I thought if I moan, groan and complain enough, he’ll take my grumpy behind home. That didn’t work. Dynamite couldn’t have blown him out of those woods!
I am not a patient person. I admit it. But, finally I announced my butt was asleep, and I had to get up and go walk out all the leg cramps. Oh, that was the wrong thing to say. We walked another what seemed like 10 miles.
We ended up in one of those famous Vicksburg gullies. So steep that if you fell, you’d roll for an hour to get to the bottom. You wouldn’t remember it, you’d most likely be D.O.A.
I found myself a tree and got under it. Got my poncho all wrapped around myself like a little red cocoon and thought, “I am in Hell.” Larry went off rambling around to listen for the dogs.
Water started dripping in on me, and I was fit to be tied! I wanted to go home! And then, a HUGE BOOM went off, and I think I jumped five feet in the air throwing my poncho off, looking to see if I had been shot! On the ground, 6 feet from me, lay a huge buck!
I think I was in shock, but then, I saw a man I truly did not know. This man I had been married to for 20 something years was doing a DANCE round and round this buck! I had never seen anything like it. He kept chanting as he danced, “THE BIG ONE! THE BIG ONE!” I had never seen him behave like this! He didn’t do a dance, when I had had three babies! But, oh, THE BIG ONE. Now, that was different!
Now, don’t get me wrong. I was excited for him, I really was. But, I did ask WHY didn’t you tell me you were about to shoot that “elephant gun” at this monster that was headed right for me?! He said, “I did!” (NOT!)
Then I asked, “Do we get to go home now?” NO! He had to go get somebody to help him drag that big buck up that hill. Then, go show off his trophy to all his other deer crazed huntin’ buddies! I understood that. I really did. I just hoped it was warm and there was some coffee up “at the camp house.”
Larry got “bragging rights” that year at the hunting club. His BIG ONE really was the biggest for many years. He had it mounted and it hung in our living room, until I had to sell the house and move. It now hangs in my living room here and whenever I look at it, I laugh about that “deer dance” and the “buck wild crazy deer huntin’ man” that finally got his “Big One!”
“Congratulations, Larry Davenport!”
Happy Thanksgiving y’all! And to all you other “buck wild crazy deer huntin’ men,” may you all get yourself “A BIG ONE!”