Thursday, September 10, 2009

Spotlight of the month...The Shootist

By William Dees

Call it buck fever, the shakes or whatever. When a young fellow sees a deer he can get overly excited. The mind plays tricks, things that seem to be there are figments of an over stimulated imagination. The loud boom of a shotgun abruptly breaks the peaceful silence of the woods.

Usually, the sound of a shot excites nearby hunters and they look forward to returning to camp to see if the fellow who fired bagged a buck. Unfortunately, this is not the case here. Shots fired by this hunter are as common as falling asleep in your tree stand. It occurred all the time.

In order to keep from hurting anyone’s feelings, I’ll call him the Shootist. He developed this habit of laying down suppressive fire at the age of ten. I speculate that the reason he fired so often was that he and all the rest of us young boys were wrapped up in the Bigfoot phenomenon going on at the time.

Movies and books, we soaked up everything we could about the giant hairy creature. It is an understatement to say it gave all of us kids a case of the nerves when we got dropped off at our stands. Maybe, this was why he left buckshot all over twelve hundred acres of our hunting lease. I don’t really know, but we sure got a kick out of it.

In the mid-seventies, our club was not heavily populated with whitetails. You could go an entire season and only see six or eight deer. If you killed one, you had earned it. A typical season would see us harvest fifteen bucks and a doe or two using dogs. Many hunters would go an entire season without firing a shot.

After shooting and missing several nice bucks, suspicion soon fell on the Shootist. The grumbling and doubt was starting. “How is he seeing so many deer?”, “How can all of them be big mature bucks?” Finally, “How can he count all the points but miss the deer.”

The stories he told bordered on incredible. When the men running the dogs would get to his stand after he shot, he would hold up his arms like a rack and say “ten point“ or “twelve point.“ What followed was the usual fruitless search for blood, along with some scratched up and very pissed off men.

When the Shootist returned to camp after another miss, a crowd of older men would usually gather to ask him to recount his recent adventure.

He would become dead serious and take center stage, describing the event in minute detail. “He came from behind me, It was an eleven point, he was chasing 3 five points, one of which had a strange mole under his right eye, may have been a tick.” The story would continue with all the men wearing big grins on their faces. “He jumped just as I fired.” or “I knocked him down, I don’t know why they couldn’t find any blood.” He usually spoke these last words as they were cutting off his shirt tail for the hundredth time….

Over the years, he had so many shirt tails on the wall of the camp, that some folks said it acted as insulation and not as much wood was required to keep the place warm and comfortable. I imagine his butt got quite cold, as I don’t believe he owned a single shirt with the tail still attached. This went on for several years.

One gentleman, who wasn’t seeing any deer and was quite small in stature, asked if he could get in the Shootist’s pocket so he could finally get a shot at a buck.The only person that believed he was really seeing all those deer was his dad, who had to get a second job to keep the Shootist in buckshot.

The dramatic rise in the cost of shot shells during the late seventies can be directly attributed to the massive quantities being consumed by the Shootist.

Statistics confirmed that this forced thousands of hunters from the sport, unable to afford shells. When the Shootist was confronted with this information years later, he pointed out the fact that had he been able to kill all those bucks, he could have fed thousands, ending world hunger and taking the planet into a new and enlightened era.

I am proud to report that the Shootist turned out to be an excellent deer hunter, the best turkey caller I know, a terrific husband & father, and is still the same loveable soul we enjoyed spending many hours with at that camp long ago. He was and still is the closest thing to a brother I have. Thanks for the memories brother; I only wish you would have had a son, so we could do it all over again.

*Williams Dee's can be contacted at if you have any questions or comments

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