I’ll Take My Stand Here
By A. Ray Lee
It was the afternoon of the last hunt of the season. The cold January winds had increased in intensity during the morning as the temperature continued to fall. The deer were in hiding and only one had been seen. In the morning drive, the dogs made a half-hearted run over the frozen ground before slipping back to the side of the drivers and refused to run anymore. Hunters came into the clubhouse for lunch with running noses, tearing eyes, and frozen ears. With stiff hands, they clutched bowls of warm stew prepared by Charles and Sam.
There had been little of the banter that usually accompanied lunch. Some hunters had quietly slipped away deciding the season was over as far as they were concerned. Eventually, the conversation came around to the afternoon hunt. There wasn’t much enthusiasm for going out again into the cold. But there were some who had driven a good distance and had not yet gotten a deer. They were reluctant to end the season without one more chance to score a big buck.
The hunt master tried to round up enough men for a small drive to placate the group of die-hards. He had chosen a small area that would not take long to cover. Finally, he had enlisted all the standers needed except one.
Otis was an elderly member of the club and although he had joined in the hunts in his younger years, he now came for comradeship and to share in the disposition of fresh venison. He had reluctantly agreed to participate in the morning hunt and had been placed first in line not far from the road. Within minutes after the drive started a large buck had raced by him and was gone before he could get his gun to his shoulder. After a short time in the cold wind, he had spent the rest of the morning shivering in the truck.
After lunch, he had taken his accustomed seat in a cane-bottomed chair next to the glowing stove trying to ignore the conversation around him. When the hunt master had exhausted all other possibilities, he turned toward the stove and said, “Come on Uncle Otis, we need you to take a stand. We will put you at the start of the line and you will not have far to walk.” Slowly Otis stood as if complying, pushed his chair back, and reached out his hands toward the stove while pulling a pair of gloves from his coat pocket and putting them on as if complying with the request.
He then turned around, backed up to the stove, lifted the bottom of his coat, and fanned his rear with it. With every eye on him, he resolutely said, “I’m taking my stand right here,” as he turned and sat down. Hunt over. Case closed.