Jim Poked Around

By Andrew Wilson

Most days, Ol’ Jim used to be out there, sitting on a lawn chair under his flag pole with a giant American flag proudly waving. Sometimes, I would join him, and he’d offer a Coors and tell me about his hunting days. Then he’d always say, “I got my tag this year; I might go out and poke around a little, see if I see a big one from the road.” As a newcomer in town, Jim’s stories provided a wealth of knowledge and clues about where to hunt. 

When I filled a tag, I came by Jim’s to show him what I got. He’d shuffle out and lean over to look in the bed of the truck; seeing the dead buck, his eyes would twinkle, and he’d say something like, “Oh, that reminds me of the one I got over on the south side of the lake.” and I’d say, “Yup, I did like you said and checked that jeep track.” Then I’d come inside for some coffee.

One day, I came by and noticed a walker next to Jim.

“I only use it because the doctor says I gotta be careful; I still got a tag this year, though, might get out and poke around a little,” Jim explained. 

The season I shot a trophy buck, the first place I drove was Jim’s to show him.  He pushed his walker out to the truck.

“Wow, that’s gotta be bigger than the one I got when I was a kid,” Jim said.

“I did like you told me,” I said excitedly.  Jim’s eyes misted over with memories.

“Well, you better come in for some coffee before you cut ‘em up.” Inside, we talked about hunting, and then Jim said, “You’re gonna need to hang that buck to skin ‘em right; why don’t you go in the garage and take my gambrel? You better have it.” The gambrel was homemade and must have been 40 years old.

“Thanks, Jim. I needed one of these.” It felt like he was passing down Excalibur to me.

“You’re a good hunter; you’ll use it.” Jim’s words meant a lot.

A big storm came through and ripped the rope on Jim’s flag pole; the American flag he struggled to put up every day was lying in a wet wad on his driveway.  It looked sad, and even though I was late to work, I pulled over, picked up the flag, and folded it in a triangle. I then knocked on Jim’s door.  Jim answered, bracing himself against the door frame.

“Your flag came loose,” I said.

“Just put it there,” Jim said, sounding terrible.

“You okay, Jim?” I asked.

“No, the doctor says I’m not okay; I’m in a lot of pain.” He said shakily. 

“Damn, Jim.  Anything I can help with?” 

“No, you can’t help me. Ain’t nothing to be done.” Jim looked tired, so I said bye and turned to leave. Before I got to my truck, I heard Jim yell over, “I got my tag this year, I might poke around before the season is up.”

From the FE Films Archive

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