When Bob Garcia removed that old mossyhorn mount from its place over the fireplace, we were a bit confused. That huge buck had been his pride and joy for more than 30 years. But Bob put it back in his office, behind the kitchen. The spot of honor over the fireplace now belongs to a young forked-horn buck, the one he took last year on the other side of the hayfield. It's the kind of buck you expect to get for your first buck, and not really the kind you honor like that after a lifetime spent hunting in the autumn woods.
When he was asked, Bob just said it was a special buck, and he smiled.
But you know there's always more to a story than that.
On that special day a year earlier ... Bob heard the deer before he saw him, and he got ready. He looked to the sound of the deer and checked what was on the other side of the animal. A large dirt bank. Good. That's safe enough. Can't have that old .45-70 slug sailing around the country.
Bob felt the breeze coming right to his face, slightly chilling his nose, and carrying with it the promise of a crisp fall later on. These days still held some late summer heat. The wind was right, and he wore dull clothing, he had a clear shot with a safe backdrop. There was nothing to do now but wait.
Then the little forked-horn buck stepped out. It would never replace the huge buck Bob took years back, but it was a good eating deer and the situation was right, so he aimed carefully and shot.
The sound of the massive cartridge going off started the snake at Bob's feet rattling. Bob jumped back out of danger and finished the snake. Another step forward ... just one more step and life would've changed forever.
The taxidermist was surprised when Bob told him he wanted a really nice mount of what was, to all other eyes, a fairly routine meat deer. But he promised to give the mount the full treatment.
It hangs over the fireplace now.
When other outdoorsmen ask him about that deer, Bob just says it is a special buck, and he smiles.