Kickass, the doorstop dog, familiar with the keeper’s excesses, tolerates his recalling the many “opening mornings” when the Wisconsin deer season loomed as a pseudo religious experience, complete with cherished artifacts, sacred-type rituals and confirmation-like ceremonies.
The keeper chooses to gloss over his long acceptance of the sexist nature of the nine-day male orgy, and his intense emotional involvement in killing a sheep-like animal, preferably one with big antlers.
Among the memories are those of his old Army Pal from Chicago—Bob Shepherd, becoming the only Black friend that the keeper’s father ever had. He—the keeper still hears their deer-camp laughter and sees them sitting side by side to dip into the venison stew.
There were the years when grandsons scored first-kills and were celebrated as young heroes, and there were the countless times of assembling with dear, deer friends in uproarious frivolity beyond the pale and appreciation of absent females.
That the deer season was a male-bonding ritual for hundreds of thousands, and still is for many, makes the emergence of increased female participation a mark of some limited advancement in how the tribe now hunts.”
The keeper oiled up his old 30-30 Winchester a few days ago, and then put it back in the closet. But this morning he wants to be out there with the blaze-orange multitudes, sitting on a stump and waiting for the big buck. It is in his predatory blood, if not his aging muscles.
“Those were the days, my friend. We thought they’d never end!”