It’s a horrible tale, but someone has to tell it, and since it was me what supposedly got et up, I reckon I’m elected. It all started when Adam and I (well, to be honest, mostly Adam – but he’s young and strong) had to drag a big buck out of the woods – a long drag! After all the mullygrubbing was over, Betsy put a deer-dragging harness on our Christmas list.
Now, that drag strap is a wonderful invention: wide nylon straps come over your shoulders to clamp across your chest, and the tail-end harness hangs down to slip over the buck’s antlers. Beats the heck out of having to lean to one side to drag a big buck with your hands, not to mention saving you from a fatal back crick.
We got to try it out on a forkhorn I killed in the Delta, then on a nine-point and huge ten-point that Adam bagged in the hills. The first buck killed on top of a ridge, though, was the monster twelve-point I bagged on Cousin Jack’s place out at Big Hongry, on a day I was hunting by myself. After field-dressing the buck, I harnessed up to drag him out, and had gone a couple hundred yards (long enough to be whupped!) before the ridge ran out. I was really looking forward to starting downhill, figuring it would be a lot easier pull. Boy, was I ever right!
It was fairly steep where I stepped off the ridge, one of those high ones so common to Big Hongry. I noticed that the buck was pulling easier – matter of fact, that old mossyhorn was probably fifty pounds heavier than I was, and I could feel his antlers pricking my legs as he picked up momentum. I lengthened my stride to try to stay ahead of him. That’s when I learned how slippery pine needles are – a gap in my education from hunting the flat, pineless Delta all my life.
As my feet started to slip, I glanced fearfully behind me at the long, sharp, twelve-tined antlers. The buck’s head was propped on his front legs as he slid on his belly; I could see that if I fell backwards, I would be impaled. In a desperate attempt to escape punctured liver and kidneys, I flung myself sideways as my boots lost traction on the steep, slick slope.
I narrowly missed impalement, but had misjudged Mossyhorn’s momentum and weight. He continued to pick up speed headed downhill, only now I was being dragged by him! The harness worked both ways, and I lost my rifle trying to grab a bush to slow myself. There was no quick-release mechanism on the clamp across my chest, so now I was being towed headfirst down the hill by a buck bigger than I was, to which I seemed to be harnessed for the ride. My hat flew off, and both gloves were ripped away when I grabbed a sawbriar vine, which cut my left palm badly. My head bounced painfully off of a stump, so I covered my face with my hands to protect my eyes, unable to stop myself on this wild, humiliating ride. That’s when the blood covered my head from the cut hand. It’s also the reason I didn’t see, and fortunately concealed my identity from, the pair of hunters who were traversing the slope as we passed. But I sure heard their exclamation.
“GOODGAWDAMIGHTY!” screamed one. “That big ole buck’s done kilt him a hunter, and is draggin’ him off to eat!”
“Lord, if you’ll let me git home safe, I’ll take up golf!” prayed his companion. “Let’s git outa here, Fred!”
By the time Mossyhorn and I ended up in a pile at the base of the ridge, and I could get loose from that dadblame drag harness, those guys were long gone. I was too whupped to try to catch them anyway. Didn’t take but a couple of days for word to spread across Big Hongry about the Maneater, and golf courses were reported to be uncommonly full for the rest of the season. It’s been over a month, but I’m still picking pine needles out of my backside.
And I’ve almost perfected a quick-release clamp for that doggone drag harness!