I checked the statute of limitations, and I think it’s OK to tell this story.
Just in case I’m wrong, none of the names are real, and maybe I’m making the whole thing up.
Actually, I won’t even use names. That seems best.
I started to think about this story because we’re in the middle of hunting season. A friend of mine once had a father-in-law who was a dedicated hunter. He was in failing health and hadn’t been out in the field for quite a while. Pheasant season was coming fast and every time the topic came up, the father-in-law would look wistful and my friend would feel vaguely guilty.
Finally, he had an idea. On the opening day of pheasant season, he picked up his father-in-law, helped him into the pickup, and drove him out to a partially harvested cornfield. He got a lawn chair out of the back of the pickup and assisted his father-in-law out and got him comfortably seated, then he ran back and fetched his shotgun. He took a careful look at the arrangements and then jumped back into his pickup and tore down to the other end of the field where his brother was waiting for him. The plan was for the two men to walk through the cornfield and chase some pheasants within shooting distance of the father-in-law. It was a certain amount of bother, but in the cosmic scheme of things, it wasn’t that big a deal to give up a day’s hunting to make a dying old man happy.
They were only about halfway down the field when they heard some gunshots. Now, my friend’s father-in-law was old, and in bad health, and seated in a lawn chair, but he’d always been a good shot, so my friend was pretty excited. It seemed his plan had worked to perfection and there was going to be pheasant for supper.
They reached the end of the field and emerged from the forest of cornstalks and saw his father-in-law sitting right where he’d been placed. He seemed excited, and with good reason because right in front of him was a nice, big, dead, whitetail deer.
Now, there were a couple of problems with the dead deer. The father-in-law didn’t have a license for hunting deer. And, it wasn’t deer season.
My friend said, “(insert name here), what the hell did you do?”
The reply was, “I’m old, and I’m sick, and I heard that deer coming and I thought to myself, you’re going to die without ever getting another chance to shoot a deer. So I shot this one.”
My friend sighed, deeply. This was showing every sign of becoming a . . . thing. He looked down at the dead deer. The shotgun had been loaded with birdshot, but at a range of 6 feet, you could probably load a shotgun with Skittles and kill most anything. Despite my friend’s fervent wishes, this deer wasn’t going to run off into the sunset.
He looked back at his father-in-law and said, “Why don’t I give you a ride home?”
It may have occurred to him to call the game warden and let his father-in-law do all the explaining, but he really liked being married, and he wasn’t sure how his wife would react to him sending her father to the slammer. They could have just tiptoed off and left the deer lying in the field, but that offended his sense of decency, not to mention the laws of hunting etiquette.