Cold day Clint and Dickie are stomping through the woods in their worn, dirty coats. Each has a 30/30 over their shoulder and a full olive military pack.  It’s deer season and the boys are both 12 which means they can hunt on their own. They walk for miles to the best spots. They climb a tree and strap themselves together on the trunk. They’ve draped burlap army surplus bags over their heads. Clint lights a cigarette and passes it to Dickie. The two share the cigarette in silence, enjoying the barren beauty of the woods. 

A twig snaps. Both boys snap their heads at the sound. Clint nods to Dickie who unshoulders his rifle. About 75 yards away a buck stands in a clearing. If he moves 10 feet to the right dickie will have a clear shot. If he moves 20 feet in the other direction, Clint will have the shot. Both boys aim their weapons, chamber a round, and peer through their scope at the beautiful creature. He’s a 6-point buck, a huge prize in these woods. The deer looks up from grazing, pauses then steps four slow steps to the right. 

Dickie takes a deep breath and then exhales slowly. His finger is pulling the trigger just slightly. The deer takes one more step and BOOM! A single shot echoed through the woods. The deer is hit but staggers away. The boys unbuckle and shimmy down the tree still draped in their blankets. They throw off the burlap bags and hop through the brush and over puddles in pursuit. The deer makes it 300 yards before collapsing with foaming blood coming from its mouth.

“Send him home,” Clint tells Dickie. Dickie unsheaths his hunting knife and looks the deer in its dark wide eye. He plunges the knife into the deer’s heart. The boys quickly bleed the deer out to make it lighter to carry. They cut down a sapling and banded the deer to it crossing the deer’s legs at the knees. The deer is almost twice as big as anything they’ve shot before. 

“This one counts as two,” Dickie says. “Shit if it does,” Clint argues back. The boys go on bickering as they pick their way through the woods, straining to carry the weight of the deer. Along the bank of the river 3 miles from their house they see hunters sitting on folding chairs eating MRE’s. The boys can tell they’re from the city by their fancy orange and camo jackets. There’s no way to avoid them except to cross the river.

The hunters see them coming and stand to greet them. “Damn! That is a fine kill you got there.” The tall bearded hunter says in his version of a hill accent. His companions snicker. The boys are silent. They keep moving up the trail. One of the men blocks their way. “Let us get a look at it. 6 points. Hit it from up close? Clint is silent but Dickie blurts out, “75-80 yards!” His face is defiant. “Bullshit, you couldn’t hit the side of a barn with those rusty, pieces of shit rifles.” The bearded man laughs.

“Tell you boys what, let us take that deer off your hands for $50.” He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a $50 bill. “No thank you, Sir.” Clint politely says. “The man knows he’s being cheap. “Ok, $100?” He pulls another $50 out. “No, thank you, Sir!” Clint says irritated avoiding eye contact. The man straightens up and looks at his companions who shrug. “ Alright, you little hillbilly, inbred fuckers, $120!” Dickie stares the man in the face. “Eat shit!” The man backslaps Dickie sending him into Clint. The deer carcass flops to the ground. 

“Guess we’ll have to just take it.” The man reaches for the deer’s horns and drags the dead animal away from the boys. Dickie is shaken by the slap. Clint is enraged. He charges the man and starts punching him in the face. One of the other men grabs Clint by the throat and tosses him hard to the ground. He stands over him. “Get away from my cousin!” Dickie says pointing a small black revolver at the man. The man pauses and smiles. “Not another step or I’ll drop you where you stand. Dickie hisses as he cocks the hammer. The three men trade glances. 

“You won’t shoot anyone.” The bearded man says seated on the ground holding his eye. Clint spits on the man’s shoe. He recoils back to kick Clint. Dickie puts two shots in his chest sending him slumping forward. The other two men scramble for their guns. Clint hops up and unsheaths his knife. He slits the bearded man’s throat. The last man pleads for his life but Dickie coldly walks toward him and points his gun in his face. “I got three kids…” BOOM. 

The men’s bodies are stripped naked. The boys burn their clothes and supplies. They sit on the ground and flip through the men’s wallets. They all have kids. Dickie stops at a picture of the bearded man with a boy his age. They seem very happy. Dickie wishes he and his father were happy together. They keep their money and split it. They go through the process of disposing of the evidence like they’ve done this before. Truth is, they have.