Last Hunt

For Three Word Wednesday, prompt words brisk, detached, miserable.

Last Hunt
We tugged and pushed Mr. Floyd,
sweating at our work
in the brisk January air.
Finally lifted fifteen feet
into a longleaf pine,
he sat on an old upturned bucket
atop an assortment
of splintered planks.
We left him leaning there
against the weathered trunk.
Seventy seasons
he’d hunted here, as his father
and grandfather before.
Many deer had passed
beneath the pine—
some too quick,
some too young,
some missed chances
lamented at evening camp.
Still he came every year,
and waited at winter’s pace.
We returned to the stand
when sunlight slanted
through the trees
in promise of the night.
He nodded, grinning
as he detached himself
from his bucket. “Boys,
I reckon I got her broke in.
Someone else can ride her now.”
The end of spring, twenty-six years
after, I wind my way
through tangled palmettos
and vines in the thick
Osceola woods, braving
miserable mosquitoes to find
the deep-lined pine and climb,
fifteen feet up. The bucket is gone.
A few rotten boards,
the only thing to show
that anyone was ever here.
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20 thoughts on “Last Hunt

  1. Oh, this was truly gripping. Hooked on Mr Floyd right at the start. I don't like animals being hunted unless it's to eat them but, this was very very rich in atmosphere and imagery Nico. Sad to see the end of an era though.

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  2. This is a wonderful, atmospheric story with great rural imagery, and a touch of pathos. I was tempted to say it was Steinbeckian, but that would not be accurate – it is pure Nico. Salutations!

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  3. Thanks Bren. Some of these past memories (which I write with a certain literary embellishment, of course!) are so strong in my mind they must be written down, whether anyone appreciates them or not. But how nice when someone does appreciate!

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  4. Leigh, that was a nice thing to say. I would be happy to be within Steinbeck's orbit, but I am light-years behind him. I'm learning to be comfortable with pure Nico. Thanks!

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  5. Thanks Grandma. When all is said and done, we (usually) leave only slight traces of our existence. I consider it a duty to keep my loved ones' memory alive.

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  6. There have been to a few woods that I walked in the past and had that overwhelming feeling of nostalgia come over me; of childish games, of hand held courting and of the pure joy of being where nature is in charge. Great writing Nico.

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  7. Thanks Rob. Sometimes seeing even a small stand of pines will take me to the past–all good memories, only tinged with sadness because of a feeling of having lost something precious.

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  8. Thanks dandelion. When I was a kid I couldn't stay out of the woods–if the woods were not available, I found even just one tree, or heavy shrub, to play in/under. Maybe I'm kin to Tarzan.

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