The deer head came along with the luggage, the boxes of books, bedding, firearms and the cat, a gray mousy looking feline that feared the sight of most humans but slept on my palís pillow and in his laundry baskets.
The deer head was from a big, solid antlered, 4x4 whitetail buck, mounted in classical fashion like the ones that stared across rooms from their perch over the mirror in taverns from Penobscot to the outer fringes of Portland.
One could say, without sacrificing fidelity, that the head was a pride piece for my pal who pinned it to the many livingrooms he shared often with others, and then finally with a woman of his choosing.
She didnít like the head despite having grown up around hunters and their prizes, or maybe because of it, and it found a place in a garage, and then a box, in a closet, until the couple split.
The head then sprang forth with vigor and new life, over a ratty couch in a downtown apartment in Montana a few two-steps from several taverns with similar glassy eyed replicas of once vibrant big game. This one however ó stalwart and hinting at the hunt in a far off backwood where it was finally slain ó looked older and more astute. The white on its muzzle seemed to have spread, although I could not be certain.
It was in one of the taverns known as a place where writers sat on high stools to better look each other in the eye as they lied about their fishing and hunting exploits, just a few two-steps from the apartment, that my pal came clean.
He had shot the heavy and symmetrically-antlered 4x4 out of an apple tree in the backyard of his parents house using a walkie talkie to communicate with his dad who was inside by the porch light. When he signaled, his dad flipped the switch and my pal pulled the trigger on a crossbow real quiet like, harvesting the wild, chrysanthemum-fed buck from a distance of 16 feet well before legal shooting light and without waking the neighbors.
The deer had been poached in a backyard in town between the swingset and the hot tub deck.
So, there you have it.
This isnít an uncommon phenomenon.
In neighborhoods across this great nation men and women far better than I fall during the equinox to the synergy of calcium components and some sort of testosterone.
Antlers drive people dopey.
So they scheme how best to accrue a live set without all that, you know, tough guy stuff, like getting up early, gulping coffee without cream, traipsing into the scary night where coyotes snarl and big cats lurk, and without having to shiver in the frost like a shih tzu in an ice box, and wait, wait, wait ó and maybe come up short.
Odds are against killing big bucks, or any buck for that matter.
So the easy route, the one that fate they claim, and comfort portends, becomes the most doable.
I donít decry the harvesting of city deer.
Urban whitetails are more akin to rodents of a questionable gene pool while their cousins high up in the hills tend the real double helix.
So what the heck?
It seems cheesy though, doesnít it, to stalk a city deer before shooting light whether or not fate drove the arrow through the maw?
I donít tell my pal this even now. He owns a fine deer head, although I think itís gotten more gray still.
For decor it adds a certain grace to an old farmhouse, and had the deer not been so massive and faulty in its judgment, taking the easy way mind you by living on the fringes of a popular neighborhood, garden feeding and fattening itself, my pal wouldnít have popped it.
Destiny definitely played a part.
And if he ever plans to sell that mount, Iíll take it. If only for the story it is not allowed to tell.