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The Smokepole

They demanded instantaneous results and he hated this.

By Jack NanuqPublished 3 years ago Updated 3 years ago 4 min read
Mike Cumpston via Wikipedia Commons


The man stood there and thought about his place in society. He was Generation X. Everyone had cellphones, microwave ovens and iPads. They demanded instantaneous results and he hated this. People no longer appreciated things as so much could be had with so little effort. In times, not so long ago, a person’s efforts more or less determined their net worth. Real work was required for real results. Not so now, people didn’t even use cash anymore. Everything was plastic, or wire transfer, or God forbid Bitcoin. What the hell was that? And if there weren’t enough funds in the banks you could just borrow it.

He then thought about his place in the world. He was surrounded by the fall beauty of a hardwood forest, a mix of reds and greens, yellows. All the colors of the rainbow, the sky even supplied the missing colors, blue and indigo. The walnut stock of his weapon had come from these very woods. He had spent hours patiently carving, sanding, fitting and polishing this treasure. This replica of an antique smokepole was one of his most cherished possessions. By today’s standards the rifle was heavy and cumbersome. This was the 21st century and who would want to hunt with a single-shot muzzle loader? He would and did. It harkened back to a time when a man with a pound of powder, a handful of lead balls and two brass ones could make his way in the world. Need any more be said.

If all went well, he would be leaving the woods with a deer. The fact that he was here to harvest a game animal did not conflict with his belief he was in harmony with Nature. Some might consider him a predator, but they served their purpose too. They helped keep things in balance.

A rustling of leaves alerted him to an approaching deer. He recognized the tentative steps of the deer on the potato chip-like leaves.The sounds were not that of a scampering squirrel or the scratching of a wary turkey. The steps were deliberate and cautious. Three or four steps and the deer would stop; three or four steps and the deer would stop. The man could not yet see his quarry but he what witnessed this phenomenon enough times to know what was happening. The buck stepped into a small clearing, near a thick oak. The range was about 50 yards and the hunter’s view of the deer was unobstructed. He immediately recognized the animal’s jagged ear. Over the past few years, the animal had ghosted through the woods; never presenting a shot. Always surrounded by a large harem of does, his early warning system. His monstrous antlers and number of concubines made him Boss Hog of this area.

This year things were different; the buck had passed his prime. There were no does and it was clear he was no longer king of the woods. His rack and body were still large but not what they had been. He was nervous and alert, swinging his head in a full arc to take in his surroundings. Blood flowed from an eye socket and it was clear he had recently sparred with the new monarch. The hunter felt for the deer as he too had once been strong and productive. He could still make contributions to this world, but his productivity is not what it used to be. The hunter also recognized that a deer with only one eye would not survive the winter. A coyote or car would catch him on his blind side. The hunter knew his place in the world and what he must do. The rifle rose and 8 pounds of wood and steel rested comfortably against his shoulder. The hammer was thumbed backward, and the trigger set. The trigger would need a few pounds of pressure to start the chain reaction. With the gun nestled in his shoulder and his cheek on the stock the hunter took careful aim. The front blade was aligned with the notch in the rear sight. An imaginary line was drawn from the muzzle to a spot just behind the buck’s shoulder blade.

The hunter’s breathing slowed, and he focused all of his energy on performing the next task. His index finger crept rearward. The hammer fell on the primer and a microsecond later thick white smoke filled the air. A sonic boom echoed from his spot. The smell of sulfur embraced him. The hunter held the gun in place and waited for the smoke to clear; he couldn’t see past the barrel. It would take a second or two before he would know what happened to the deer. In a strange way he relished this uncertainty.

The smoke cleared and he was pleased to see the prize lay at the base of the tree. More work would be required to get the deer out of the woods, but this is how it should be.

short story

About the Creator

Jack Nanuq

Mr. Nanuq makes his living as a Private Investigator, hence the avatar and pen name.

Author of “Parabellum; When you Live in Peace, prepare for War”

Writes, just for the hell of it.

Enjoys walks in the woods, with a chainsaw

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