Kickass, the doorstop dog, indulges the keeper this “opening morning” as he–the keeper joins the multitudes out there in the woods watching the day come sneaking in on little gray feet.
If the old hunters are there only figuratively, it is no less an emotional experience–this exercise of predatory genes in killing a sheep-like animal. When the memories stretch back 75 years there is such a crowd of hunters as to be uncountable.
But they all emerge from their stands of the past, grinning, laughing, whooping congratulations, helping on the drag rope, and going along with the pseudo religious absurdity that killing a beautiful, timid animal, especially one with big antlers, somehow contributes to tribal manhood.
The keeper is happy to be on his “stand” this morning, watching down the old traveled trails, remembering the youthful heart-pounding; and then sharing a warm, comfortable “stump” and a cup of coffee with Phyllis.
The hunt is not over for him: it is just different. He has no regrets.