Don't ask me why I tried to put the title in Spanish. I just like the way it sounds.
I saw my brother in the hospital today. He's been fighting AML Leukemia for 4 months (diagnosed), and more like 6 months or more, if truth be told, knowing the back story and his stubbornness to not talk turkey about a damn thing. It won't be long now, even though nobody has said it. (Oncologists just aren't wired that way.
) Things are starting to "cascade", infections etc., and he sounds like he could aspirate at any time.
I'm posting this in "Open Hunting Discussion" 'cause hunting is what tied us together really, even though I worked with him in the family business for 18 years. I've had a whole lotta problems with my relationship with this man (he's 11 years and 4 months my senior...with no siblings in between - I'm a Margarita anniversary, but I digress), but in the end, we're blood, and he's really the only other human on this earth that understands the intricacies of what our parents went through. I wanted to post about our last hunt together, several years ago now, as a little therapy for what's coming in the coming week(s?). Thanks to the THF for indulging me.
Before Dad died, he'd always talked about taking the two of us on a mule deer hunt. He hadn't started hunting until he was in his twenties, with his father-in-law. He'd been on a bunch of cheap leases not too far from San Antonio and had only killed some "fair to midlin'" (as he would say) WT bucks. He died before he ever got the chance to take us. Several years later I was putzing around with one of those rip-off "find a lease" websites and found a 40K acre ranch for 2 mule deer bucks. I called the guy. I went out and looked at the place and, although I didn't see a single tail and it was a swiss-cheese oil patch ranch 20mi. west of Kermit, thought there might be a chance to find something on the place. The owner (or, technically the family's representative) and I hit it off.
Mule deer season comes and we head out. My brother in a white Chevy crew cab and me in a Jeep Rubicon pulling a covered trailer with every kind of camping crap. This ranch's north fence line is the New Mexico line. We hunt alone and together, off and on, for three days, in and out of the sand dunes, driving, walking. Nothing. I went out in a norther one day and found some bedded just north of an ancient well site, out of the wind on the south side of some dunes. The next day we head our separate directions, but about mid-day I key the walkie-talkie and tell him that I think we should get together and drive the road that heads due west - the road that the rancher told us that there's really nothing down. I'd been out to the western gate a couple of times and seen some does nibbling in the little road material pits that had been dug over the years.
I'm riding passenger, with the "field glasses" (also, as my dad would say), and about half-way down this road, I look to the right and see a buck nibbling on the shin-high oaks. I tell my brother to "stop, get out, and shoot that deer". For maybe once, in my entire life with him, he did what I told him. Here's the picture. 'Not a monster, but he was earned. My brother is on the left. The rifle is my brother's now, but was our grandfather's .270 that he bought shortly after Jack O'Connor declared it the Cat's Meow.
Back at camp, I remember him coming to get me to "help" with cleaning it. For the first time in my life, and he'd shot several deer, I realized that he was a bit squeamish, just like our grandfather. I finished cleaning the deer.
Sometime on that hunt, I can't remember if it was before or right after the kill, I can still see him barely cracking the travel trailer's door (the rancher had let us sleep, and that's all, in his travel trailer at the "headquarters"
) and asking if I needed any help, while I tried to cook our "big" dinner, steaks, in that f'ing blowing sand, 40+ mph west Texas wind.
For a little while, on a very rugged patch of west Texas, it was about two men, that were family, and hunting. Nothing else. Thanks be to God.