City Boy Turns the Tables

By Mike Zusman

“City-boy truck.” 

Amos wasn’t speaking to anyone in particular. He was just stating the truth as he saw it.

While Andrew and I had hunted together and were well acquainted, this was my first time meeting his brother-in-law, an experienced deer hunter hailing from south of the Mason-Dixon line. 

Clearly, my Ford Raptor did not make a good first impression on him. Andrew laughed at the insult as he led us past Amos’ Chevy 1500 and into a tract of New Jersey public land that he’d been hunting since childhood.

After hiking and scouting through the thorny underbrush, a plan materialized, and the three of us split up. I hung my climber on a tall oak at the intersection of two game trails, climbed uncomfortably high, and tried to ignore the frigid late January wind.

It wasn’t long before I heard the crunch of hooves on frozen leaves walking the trail directly behind my tree. I made a slow one-eighty in my stand, and peeked around the tree to see a lone doe approaching.

With the “city-boy truck” remark still smoldering in my soul, and what appeared to be a nice looking deer coming in, I recognized my opportunity to show Amos what a suburban kid was capable of. I don’t identify as “city”.

Aware that something was amiss, the doe walked downwind of me. I slowly turned and raised my bow as she spooked and bounded away to 40 yards. She was quartering away when I rushed a shot, hitting her way too far back. Basically, in the ass.

My illuminated nock was clearly sticking out of the wrong part of the deer, and I instantly felt sick with regret. But when she took three final bounds and collapsed within 20 yards, my regret turned to elation. We continued to hunt until just before last light, when the potential for another deer no longer justified enduring the dropping temperature. 

After climbing down our respective trees, the three of us converged on the doe. To my dismay, she was actually a button buck, and a lot smaller than I estimated from my perch high up in the tree. 

“We’re gonna hafta get creative with the camera angle for this one,” quipped Amos. “At least he shed his spots.”

Size jokes quickly gave way to fascination as we assessed the lethality of my extreme quartering-away shot. With the nock barely sticking out of the left hind, the broadhead was buried in the right shoulder, and the vitals were shredded in between. 

I got to work, nervously dressing my kill under Amos’ supervision. When I sliced my finger on the blade of my skinning knife, his southern gentleman side showed as he bandaged me up without any additional shit-talking. 

As I fished out the heart to give to Andrew, Amos weaved nylon webbing through the deer’s legs, fashioning the small cervid into my very own Appalachian shoulder bag. I slung my new “bag” and we began our hike out. 

Back at my house in a country club suburb of NYC, I pulled the deer from my truck and laid it on the driveway to remove the tenderloins. As the first tenderloin came free, I heard a commotion coming from the side of my house.

Standing in bloody camo, with a knife in one hand, a small piece of meat in the other, and bourbon warming me from the inside out, I waited for the sound to materialize in front of me. 

Footsteps and commotion grew louder until a gang of teenage boys exploded from the darkness, all out of breath. They had run across the golf course and were taking a shortcut through my yard and down my driveway.

Petrified with mouths agape, the boys locked eyes on me, my knife, and what appeared to them to be the carcass of a large dog at my feet. 

Quickly assessing the shock of the fearfully frozen young trespassers in their preppy attire, I asked myself: What would Amos do?

I leaned on the tailgate of my truck with a sly grin.

“You city boys know what happens to trespassers ‘round here?”