It has been very cold and snowy around here the last few days so all the stories have to do with cold and snow. These extreme temps are odd for Oklahoma but I guess it is shaping up to be a cold and snowy winter.
The Biggest Buck Pays His Debt
Deep in the forest that surrounds the winding creek lives the biggest buck of all the deer. He is very strong and so smart and quick that the hunters have never been able to come close to him. He can smell a hunter from miles away and hear the softest rustle of a boot stepping in dry leaves. He knows every inch of the forest, all the side trails and all the best hiding places and he leads his herd of deer to safety all season long.
The reason he knows so much about the hunters ways is that when he was a little fawn with spots he broke his leg in a fall. He was saved by a young boy and raised as a pet. The deer had loved his boy, and his little brother too, and was very sad the day the boys had been made to take him far away from their farm and set him free deep in the forest. Now he was grown and King of the deer.
One day in December the King raised his head and sniffed the air. Hunters were in the forest! He could smell them but they were still far away. Huffing loudly in his deep voice he called the herd to follow him, and away they all ran, deep into the trees and tall grass. They all settled down into the grass and lay perfectly still. Soon families of rabbits came hopping into the hiding place and a family of red fox, so easily seen in the brown forest grasses, ran past, heading for the holes they had dug under the largest cedar tree.
Suddenly gun shots sounded followed by the sounds of breaking twigs as something fled the hunters guns. The deer and rabbits stayed very still. There were more shots and they could hear steps moving in their direction.
As the day faded, the wind changed direction and came out of the north, and the air turned cold and then colder still. The deer heard a loud crashing sound and then a scream. Suddenly the hunters were talking loudly among themselves. Something had happened. Someone was hurt.
A little Chickadee came flitting past with the news: a huge branch had fallen from one of the oldest Cottonwoods and had pinned one of the hunters under it. One man had stayed with him but the others had gone for help. They would be back but not soon.
The deer moved closer together in the cold darkness as a blizzard began to blow through the trees, covering the deer and the grass with a deep layer of snow. It grew colder and colder and then, in the darkest part of the night, the wind died and the moans of the injured man came to them through the starlight. The buck raised his head and sniffed the air. Suddenly he was on his feet and moving through the forest toward the two men.
When he drew near he saw that the men were lying side by side and he knew their scent; they were the boys who had saved him when he was a fawn. Slowly and silently the buck walked forward and cleared the snow off the men's faces so they could breath and then he lay down beside them, warming them with his own body. Other deer appeared out of the forest soon and one by one they too lay down around the men, protecting them from the freezing snows. The rabbits came too, covering the men with their warm bodies and keeping them warm through the night.
Much later, as the sky began to lighten with dawn, the animals heard the sounds trucks coming closer and they slipped away. Soon several men arrived, but when they reached spot where they had left the men, they stopped and stared. The two men were in the middle of a circle of packed snow and the snow was covered with the tracks of many deer and rabbits.
The men quickly got the branch off the injured man and carried him out of the forest. As they stepped out of the trees into the clearing the injured man turned, looking back, and there, not twenty yards away stood a magnificent buck, looking right at him. The man looked back at the deer and then the King dipped his great crowned head once and was gone, disappearing among the trees.
From what I heard, those two brothers never did hunt deer again after that night. They always just smiled when anyone asked them why not, and said, "Well, you can't very well shoot something who saved your life, now can you."