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Old 11-30-2010, 01:28 PM   #1
Jethro
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Default A Date with Destiny

A man has a lot of time to think in a tree stand, and at the moment I was thinking a lot. I was thinking about how events had unfolded, and why I was sitting where I was today. I was thinking about The Ghost. I was here to kill him, if I could.

I knew almost nothing about him, which is why I called him The Ghost. I had never seen him with my own eyes, and only had a few trail camera pictures to show me he existed. Three years ago I had gotten four pictures of him one night on my camera, working a scrape in the wee hours of the night, and then nothing. Not a glimpse, not a hint, not a single picture for three years. Not until two days ago on Thanksgiving Day, when he showed up again. Two pictures, taken well before dark in my food plot, and then he was gone. I had seen those two pictures when I ran my camera this morning, and he had been on my mind ever since. He looked old and worn in those pictures and it made me wonder about him. He was a riddle, an enigma, and I didn’t have the answers.

Where had he been, what had he been doing? How had he survived all those years with no one the wiser? It was not like he lived in a vast expanse of cover, lost in the miles of brush along the river. The little patch of woods I was hunting was only about 5 acres, a forgotten corner in the middle of farm country. It was a little patch that no one would look at twice. To the east, north, and west was open farm country for miles. There was a small community about a half a mile away, and a quarter-mile wide strip of cover to the south that he could use to access the brush country beyond. But that corridor belonged to my neighbors, and had three box blinds in it. It was a death trap that could only be traveled safely at night. How could he survive in that small area, with eyes watching all the time, and not be known? It was a mystery to me, but he had done it.

He was not a monster, far from it. Even though he was an old mature buck, he was not very good in the antler department. Most folks here in Texas would consider him a cull, and rightly so. He had a small compact rack, with short tines and short main beams. His rack was unbalanced as well, with six on the right and four on the left. The right side had five regular points, with a sticker coming out of the gnarled base of the antler. That was his good side. The left side was bad, basically a big fork with two small brow tines. He was a ten, but an ungainly, misshapen ten. Fact is he was just plain ugly. But he did have mass, that was his one redeeming quality, and caught from the right angle would make you do a double take. One of those pictures from two days ago had caught him from his good side, and had started me down the path to where I was right now. Sometimes, there is just a whole lot more to it than just what a buck scores, and this was one of those times. His uniqueness and secretive ways had given him something different. And it was something that I wanted.

The southwest breeze ruffled through the woods, and intruded on my thoughts. The wind was a perfect for the stand I was sitting in. It was a tall ladder stand, and a comfortable one as well. I called it The Hilton, and I had only sat it in once so far this year. 23 feet of homebuilt monstrosity, it was a bear to move. You could sit in it all day long though. Back on opening day of bow season I sat in it, and had drawn my bow on a decent nine point at fifteen yards. He was too young though, and I had let him walk on. That was the only day I had hunted the woods this year, nearly two months ago. As I sat I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. It was a young fork-horn, and he meandered across my food plot, traveling east to west, and disappeared back into the woods. The rifle in my lap never moved. It had a date with destiny, but it was not with that young forkie.

To be continued......
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Old 11-30-2010, 01:33 PM   #2
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Bring it
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Old 11-30-2010, 01:57 PM   #3
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I'm interested, let's hear the rest of the story.
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Old 11-30-2010, 02:00 PM   #4
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Sounds good so far. Waiting for the rest of the story.
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Old 11-30-2010, 02:03 PM   #5
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Don't leave us hanging too long.


I had a date with Destiny once but I think that was just her stage name
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Old 11-30-2010, 02:11 PM   #6
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Nice
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Old 11-30-2010, 02:29 PM   #7
Jethro
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I'm working on it, you guys are getting it as it comes off the keyboard...
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Old 11-30-2010, 02:31 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG_IRON View Post
Don't leave us hanging too long.


I had a date with Destiny once but I think that was just her stage name
X2 I bet it was the same girl!!!
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Old 11-30-2010, 02:36 PM   #9
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I had spent many hours thinking about the rifle that was lying in my lap. In many ways it was just like The Ghost, its long history a secret unto itself. I had first seen it Thanksgiving Day of the year before. We were at my Father-in-Laws, visiting with the family. The meal was over and most of the family was laying down for a nap. My Father-in-Law disappeared for a few moments and when he came back he had a rifle in his hands. He handed it to me and asked, “What do you think about that?”

“It’s old,” I said.
“Yes,” he replied.
“It’s seen some hard use, I bet it has some history.”
“I imagine it has,” he paused, and after a moment or two continued, “Do you think it will still shoot?”
I hesitated. “I don’t know Kenneth. It probably needs to be taken down completely, cleaned up and checked out good. Where did you get it?”
He thought about that a minute, and then answered, “I got it from an old friend of mine named Shorty, his house got broken into not long ago and he decided he didn’t need some of this stuff around anymore. He’s had it for a while but I don’t know where it came from, or really anything about it. Why don’t you take it home, and when you get a chance, go through it and see what you think.”
“All right.” And that was that. It came home with me that day.

A few days later I got around to checking the old rifle out. It was an original Winchester 1894 lever action carbine. The barrel was stamped .30 W.C.F., and it still had the saddle ring loop. I knew that made it old. The blue was all gone, and the wood was beat up real bad as well. I realized that the poor cosmetic appearance of the rifle probably destroyed any collector value it may have had. But I cleaned it up good and it seemed to function okay, although it wouldn’t quite take the hammer to the full cock position when you cycled the lever. It would cock and fire though; you just had to do it manually. Okay so far, but the bad news was the barrel was shot. The rifleing was corroded and nearly nonexistent. Years of neglect and corrosive primed ammunition had taken its toll. It wasn’t a collector, and it wasn’t a shooter. I figured that would make it a wall hanger.

I was still curious about the rifle though. I had to know how old it was. I just love knowing about things like that. It was hard to nail down, but I stuck with it. Most of the old records from Winchester were destroyed in a fire years ago, but a few still remain. According to the polishing room records that are housed at the Cody Firearms Museum, that rifle ran through the Winchester plant in the fall of 1913. It was 97 years old. I tried to wrap my mind around that. No one I know was alive then. 40 years before that the Indians still controlled Palo Duro canyon. The west was still raw. Pancho Villa was governor of Chihuahua, outlaws still roamed, and folks still rode horses, wagons, and trains. The 1911 Colt had just been born. I had not imagined the rifle would be that old, and I could not begin to comprehend the things it had seen and done. I wanted to know more about the old rifle, but it was a void. Shorty didn’t know anything else about the rifle, and it’s secrets would remain locked away, for now.

I called Kenneth, and told him all that I had found out. He was happy about what history I found out on the rifle, but disappointed it would not shoot. He wondered about changing the barrel, but neither one of us wanted to see the rifle abused that way. A new barrel on that old frame just wouldn’t be right. The original barrel could be rebored to a bigger cartridge as well, but then the barrel markings would not match the chambering. Then I thought about relining the barrel. I didn’t know if it could be done or not, but I figured it would be worth a shot. It took awhile, but I found a man in Missouri who could do it. Kenneth liked the idea and the price, so I shipped it off to him in February.


To be continued...
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Old 11-30-2010, 02:47 PM   #10
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Do you know the Shield's family?
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Old 11-30-2010, 02:58 PM   #11
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Dang Jethro, that's some good stuff so far.
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Old 11-30-2010, 03:10 PM   #12
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keep it coming!
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Old 11-30-2010, 03:20 PM   #13
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I'm ready for some more Jethro, type faster
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Old 11-30-2010, 03:23 PM   #14
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Skilz man, skilz.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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Old 11-30-2010, 03:25 PM   #15
Deathrow Jethro
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Jethro you have a way with words... Sitting here waiting for the rest of the story...
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Old 11-30-2010, 03:34 PM   #16
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Love a good read,and I'm loving this.
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Old 11-30-2010, 03:54 PM   #17
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The rifle came back in May with a shiny new bore and a hammer that would cock again. The repair was barely visible, for all practical purposes it looked just like it did before it left. I was very happy and knew Kenneth would be pleased as well. I was anxious to shoot it and took it out as soon as I could. It did not disappoint me. It would put three rounds of factory 170 round nose into a three-inch circle at 100 yards, as long as I did my part. I zeroed the rifle and cleaned it well. As I cleaned it I just happened to remove the buttplate, and there, underneath, were some letters. They were scratched on the inside of the buttplate with a nail and written on the wood of the stock with a pencil. They were old, and written the way that someone who can write their name but can read, writes. You know what I mean, they were a fancy stylized letter that was too awkward for everyday use. Someone had been proud of those letters, once upon a time, and whoever it was had the initials SR. I though about who that man might be as I reassembled the rifle, but to this day I still don’t know. I had the old ’94 all shiny and clean, ready to go back to my Father-in-Law.

The day finally came when I took it back to Kenneth. He was impressed with the work. He asked me how it shot, and I told him it shot good. He handed the rifle back to me and spoke, “You take it back home, and have Keedon practice with it. When it turns 100 years old, I want him to shoot a deer with it. If I need it, I know where to come get it.” I looked into his eyes, and at that moment I knew. He had never meant that rifle for him, he had never intended for it to come back. It’s home was to be with us, with my son and I, as a piece of working history, a reminder of things from the past. It was to be a reminder of how things were, where we came from, and as a testament to those who came before us. My Father-in-Law has a deep appreciation for things from the past, and that appreciation is carried down through me to my son, who is just now 14 years old. The lesson was not lost on me, and in those moments a world of understanding passed between us. No more words were spoken, yet nothing was left unsaid.

The rifle stayed in the safe the rest of the summer and into the fall. I would take it out on occasion and look at it. My son knew about the rifle and its legacy, but for the most part everyone was waiting. It is not any everyday rifle anymore, and its time was not yet.

When I saw the pictures of The Ghost on the camera, I knew. It was time, and nothing else mattered. There was only one place I would be that afternoon. Gone were thoughts of the tall nine point in our wheat field, and the big twelve out at Dad’s place. They could wait for another year, or for someone else. I had already passed on half a dozen bucks this year that I normally would have shot, and I didn’t know why. At least I didn’t know until now. I went to the safe and got out the old Winchester. I wiped it down and loaded it, then cycled all of the shells through the action just to make sure everything was okay. I headed to the woods, fifteen miles distant.

As I turned down the access road headed to the woods I noticed a set of big buck tracks in the road. I didn’t really start paying attention though until I noticed them on top of my tire tracks from that morning. That got my attention real quick. The buck had come through in the middle of the day, across a county road, out in the middle of open fields, and he was going to the woods a quarter of a mile away. I parked the pickup and got out, looking at the tracks as I loaded the ’94. It just took me a moment to get ready. I was traveling light. There just wasn’t any need for lots of gear today. I followed the tracks to the entrance to the woods, and they turned right down the road in front of me. Easing into the timber I crept along with my thumb on the hammer, ready to cock it in an instant. I covered the 100 yards to my stand at a snails pace, checking the woods carefully as I went. I reached my stand without incident, and noted where his tracks continued on into the deep woods. I climbed into my stand and settled in.


The finale is coming...
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Old 11-30-2010, 04:02 PM   #18
Deathrow Jethro
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All wee wee'd up with excitement...
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Old 11-30-2010, 04:24 PM   #19
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This is awesome stuff!
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Old 11-30-2010, 04:40 PM   #20
Deathrow Jethro
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Man you are killing me jethro...
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Old 11-30-2010, 04:50 PM   #21
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Those who aren't reading this are missing out!
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Old 11-30-2010, 04:50 PM   #22
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Good story!!!
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Old 11-30-2010, 05:06 PM   #23
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Great writing brother! I assume your last name is Ruark?
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Old 11-30-2010, 05:10 PM   #24
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can't wait for the finale
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Old 11-30-2010, 05:11 PM   #25
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Great read
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Old 11-30-2010, 05:17 PM   #26
Jethro
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The little forkie had come and gone around 4 p.m., and now at 4:17 a doe and her fawn came into my plot. The rifle laid across my lap to the right, a natural position for a left-handed shooter. The clearing that contained my plot extended 70 yards to the right and was about 30 yards wide. The setup was originally intended for bowhunting, and anything that came within my vision was in extreme danger from the ancient Winchester. The doe and her fawn had been in the plot about ten minutes, and suddenly they went on alert. I heard movement back in the trees and knew things were about to start happening.

A young eleven-point angled into the edge of the clearing and he got a quick glassing with my binoculars. He was a good buck, but young. He needed a few more years but would have been tempting on a different day. He seemed very cautious, almost as if he were point man for a platoon. I watched him, but kept scanning the woods behind him. And then I saw it, a thick piece of stubby antler that could only belong to one buck. It was him. He was here.

The adrenaline rush hit me like a jackhammer as I watched The Ghost ease forward through a screen of limbs. He was just as I pictured him in my mind, old and gnarled and ugly and beautiful, all at the same time. He moved with a slow measured stride that was weary but full of purpose. He stepped out into the clearing, and then turned and came my way. He was easily in range, but I watched him come anyways. My blood roared in my ears, and I was both excited, yet strangely calm, all at the same time. Time compressed, and the world closed in. Everything except The Ghost, the rifle, and I faded into background noise. Fifteen measured strides and he stopped, broadside to me at 25 yards. He stopped dead clean and didn’t move. Time compressed again and the outside world shut out completely. The hammer on the Winchester came back with a soft click. The Ghost didn’t even twitch. The rifle came up in a slow abbreviated arc, and I watched as the sights hung dead solid on his front shoulder. Time came to a dead stop. It was nearly as if the trigger moved under its own volition. I know that cannot be true, but move it did. Maybe I just willed it back.

The rifle spoke, the flat crack of its voice echoing across a century of time, fulfilling its destiny. It was a rifle that had been conceived and birthed by men whom lived and died with a rifle in their hand. A weapon made for fighting men, by fighting men. Trim and sleek, it handled fast, pointed well, and spoke with authority, just the way its designers had intended. A rifle with no frills, meant to get the job done when the chips were down. And true to form, the 170 grain round-nose bullet traveled through space, smashing through both front shoulders of The Ghost, as it expanded and exited out the other side.

Time uncompressed, and everything began happening all at once. The Ghost crashed to the ground, never to take another step in this world. The doe blew up, and exited at a dead run, stage right. The fawn and the eleven-pointer milled around. The fawn was confused, but the buck did not want to leave his mentor. I cycled the action of the ’94 to let them know they needed to move on down the road. The fawn left, but still the eleven stayed. I clacked the rifle barrel against my stand and he ran a few more steps and stopped, but the interloper would not leave. I had had enough. I yelled at him, “Heeyyahh.” That did the trick, and now The Ghost and I were alone.

I climbed down from my stand and walked over to him. The bullet had taken him slightly high, and he was still gasping for breath, fighting to the end. I looked into his eye, and he became still, both of us looking into the others soul. The Winchester spoke one last time, and all was still.

There was plenty of light, and I stayed for awhile, watching the leaves fall like rain around us. The Woods has always been a special place for me, ever since I began to hunt there. I etched the memories of the day in my brain, being careful to record the details. There are things that speak louder to a man than inches of horn, or a few lines in a record book, and this was one of them. I don’t know when the old Winchester will speak again, but I suspect it will be in 2013. My son has a date, and I don’t plan on him missing it.

Last edited by Jethro; 11-30-2010 at 05:23 PM.
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Old 11-30-2010, 05:20 PM   #27
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Epiloge later tonight...
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Old 11-30-2010, 05:25 PM   #28
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This is great.
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Old 11-30-2010, 05:25 PM   #29
txdukklr
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nice job

is this real?
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Old 11-30-2010, 05:28 PM   #30
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Well done.

Well done!
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Old 11-30-2010, 05:30 PM   #31
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i love this story keep it coming.
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Old 11-30-2010, 05:30 PM   #32
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Thank you Sir. I hope you plan on publishing that somewhere.
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Old 11-30-2010, 05:39 PM   #33
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Great story, thank you for writing it down for us. Print a hard copy and put it in that gun safe for your boy to read to his son some day.
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Old 11-30-2010, 05:39 PM   #34
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Great read. Can't wait to read the rest. Pictures on the way as well?
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Old 11-30-2010, 05:47 PM   #35
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I see an article forthcoming in Field & Stream. Great writing and a great experience for you. Congratulations.
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Old 11-30-2010, 05:50 PM   #36
Jethro
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Quote:
Originally Posted by txdukklr View Post
nice job

is this real?

I hate to tease, but...



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Old 11-30-2010, 05:54 PM   #37
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sweet dude I almost want to see the gun as much as the deer!
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Old 11-30-2010, 06:00 PM   #38
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Great Job two thumbs up on the story Jethro !!
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Old 11-30-2010, 06:08 PM   #39
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Great read. Each segment made me want more.
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Old 11-30-2010, 06:11 PM   #40
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hooked....I am.

great writing!
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Old 11-30-2010, 06:48 PM   #41
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Best thing I've read in a while. Would love to see a pic of the rifle, too.

Quote:
No more words were spoken, yet nothing was left unsaid.
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Old 11-30-2010, 06:50 PM   #42
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that's some good story tell'n Jethro. Fine job. congrats..!..!..
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Old 11-30-2010, 06:54 PM   #43
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That was sweetness! Thanks
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Old 11-30-2010, 07:07 PM   #44
talltexasshoote
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Lubbock
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Quote:
Originally Posted by txdukklr View Post
nice job

is this real?
Does it really matter. Louis Lamore was seldom real except for in our minds. Jethro did one of the best jobs I have read recently of painting with words. I am very glad I opened and read it. I hope I am around to read the sequel in 2013.
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Old 11-30-2010, 07:10 PM   #45
cheez
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Wichita Falls, TX
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jethro View Post
Epiloge later tonight...
Can't wait. Great writing skills and a really cool story
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Old 11-30-2010, 07:17 PM   #46
Jethro
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Location: Collingsworth County
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I have been asked if this story is real, and what I can say is this. The buck is real, as well as the rifle. I am real as well. So are my Father-in-law, and my son. The Woods is a real place, one that I enjoy very much. The depictions and events that are a portrayed are a pretty accurate rendition of what actually took place, though perhaps some literary license was taken for the sake of the story. The only thing I really don’t know for sure is if the buck I have pictures of in 2007, is the same buck I have pictures of last week. It may not be the same buck, but the Ghost was old, and had escaped detection for a long time, and it sure could be him. Whether he was a ghost or just a wandering buck, I will never know for sure. That is part of the riddle. I prefer to remember it the way I wrote it at any rate, if just for the sake of the tale. Prove me wrong and I will change it.

The idea for the story began after I tried to write a short e-mail story about the hunt. It seemed the story rapidly outgrew the scope of the original idea, and began to take on a life of its own. What you see now is a fairly complete story which will be refined and fleshed out in more detail. When it is done I plan for it to be a Christmas gift for my Father-in-Law. TBH has been the sounding board for the story line, and I appreciate the encouragement you guys have given me.

There is one TBH’er that has a picture of The Ghost and the Winchester on his cell phone, taken while he is still in the woods, before he was ever moved. I looked back, and that message left my phone at 4:34 pm. Here’s at you Robert, you had the exclusive. It was a picture similiar to this, but still inside the woods with leaves all around.

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Old 11-30-2010, 07:20 PM   #47
KNEE DEEP
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Palacios,Texas
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Thats good stuff right there.Awesome writing skills.
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Old 11-30-2010, 07:33 PM   #48
Chew
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Thanks for writing that, Jethro. Great stuff!
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Old 11-30-2010, 07:35 PM   #49
Deathrow Jethro
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All I can say is this is PURE GREATNESS... Thanks for sharing Jethro...
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Old 11-30-2010, 07:37 PM   #50
Buckrunner
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Hunt In: Georgetown, Graham, Anywhere invited
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Wow! Thank you for the awesome story! Congrats on your trophy.
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