A Buck For Eddie
Very recently, my Cousin, Eddie Nunemaker was diagnosed with terminal cancer and while he has vowed to fight, we all know that his days are numbered and this breaks my heart. You see, although Eddie is my cousin, the group of us that own a very nice cabin in Emporium PA are actually more like brothers and we have shared great times and memories over the years that can never be forgotten, and recently Eddie made his own memory that will live in our minds forever. The following is a story of that memory that I want to share with you, I hope you enjoy it half as much as I have and will for the rest of my life.
About 10 or so years ago, seven of us purchased a quaint little cabin near Emporium PA, and over the years, we have made hundreds of improvements that have turned this cabin into a very nice home away from home that has all the comforts you will ever need and then some. We purchased this cabin for hunting of course but we also use it with our families over the summer as an escape to the quiet wilderness for some much needed R&R. We are still learning the lay of the land and trying to figure out where the deer are and it’s been tough, but in November 2011, Eddie figured it all out!
On Wednesday November 2nd, Eddie departed from Waynesboro around noon and headed to the cabin for a few days or archery hunting at the cabin, this seems to be the time when we do see some deer and Eddie was hoping to bag his first buck with his Mathews DXT bow that I, well let’s just say he was reeled in, hook line and sinker and let it at that!! The plan was that Eddie would get there early in time to hunt a few hours that evening and my brother Jamie and I were leaving after work that day to join him for the rest of the week in camp. As Jamie and I approached Mount Union, my cell phone rang and I saw it was the cabin phone, I expected it was Eddie calling to ask where we were so he knew when to expect us. I answered and said, Camp Take A Nap, which is the name we call our cabin, and a very excited voice on the other end said and I quote, I GOT ONE!!!! The next paragraph is in Eddie’s words as told to me as to how these events unfolded.
“I arrived in camp around 4PM and unloaded my gear and got the camp ready for the next few days. Bubba and Jamie were on the way but would be a while, so I wanted to take advantage of the last hour or so of the day and get a short hunt in. I got dressed, got my gear ready and was deciding if I should go to my tree stand or go up on the hill across from the cabin. In the end, I decided to go up on the hill near the cabin and hide under a big pine tree (right beside the spot where Jim puts his blind) and see what would happen. About half an hour after I got there, I heard some commotion on the side of the hill and saw flashes of deer coming down the mountain. A lone doe came into view up the hill and to my right and stopped broadside and looked in my direction. I had only ever killed one deer with a bow and I had a doe tag so I drew back the Mathews and let the arrow fly. Did I even remember to use a pin? I don’t think I did. Anyway the arrow came up way short and the doe simply walked away. I then heard a buck grunting as he came down the hill and he stopped at nearly the same spot and appeared to be broadside so I drew back with another arrow, aimed a little higher ( buck fever made me forget what all those sight pins on my bow are for) and let it go. This time the arrow struck the deer, the deer shook a bit, turned up the hill and lay down. Did that just happen I thought to myself? I waited a few minutes and walked up to the deer and saw he had not quite expired and decided to go back to the cabin and give him some time. I then started to burn up the phone lines and call folks and tell them the story. Once I got Bubba (that’s my cousin Danny) on the phone and told him the story, he told me to let the deer lay till 7:00 PM and then go get him, so that’s what I did. When I went up the hill at 7:00, the deer had indeed expired so I drug him down the hill (I did not filed dress the deer) and laid him beside the porch. I then called Bubba again and the next paragraph is in Bubba’s words that tell the rest of the story!”
So after Eddie called and told me what happened, I told him to let the buck lay till 7:00 and then go get him. Eddie called me at 7:15 and said, well he’s down here at the camp but I can’t field dress him because I can’t find my light and will need you to hold the light for me. So I said ok, congratulations and I’ll see you in about two hours. A bit later Eddie called again and asked where we were and I told him we were nearly there and asked if he had field dressed the deer yet. He said no, I can’t find my knife or my light so I will need you to help me. (can anyone see what’s coming here?) So I said ok, see you soon. So Jamie and I arrived and as we pulled up we saw Eddie’s buck lying there, it was a very nice deer that appeared to be an older buck on the downhill side with his rack, but a nice 6 point rack and big body. We started to unload our gear and food and as we were finishing that up, I said ok Festus (our pet name for Eddie) get your knife and gloves and I’ll hold the light for you. He said, Bubba, you’re gonna have to do this for me, I can’t remember how and I don’t have my knife or light!( the man has field dressed dozens of deer in his life and he FORGETS?) I said, are you kidding me? So I inspected the deer and ask him where he hit the deer and he said well a little back but good. I looked at the deer’s left hindquarter and saw an exit would, rolled him over and saw an entrance wound right in the middle of the deer and all the sudden I knew the deal. You see, Eddie did not forget how to field dress a deer, nor did he lose his light and knife, good ole Festus KNEW he had gut shot this buck and he wanted no parts of that deal!! Bet you saw that one coming huh? SO to make a long story short, I offered to field dress his deer down by the creek while he and Jamie unloaded the refrigerator we had brought along. So I took his buck to the creek, field dressed him and asked Eddie if he remembered how to drag a deer. ( I thought he might have forgotten that as well ) He did remember and he and I drug the buck to the cabin, and the three of us hung him from the meat pole and then I told Eddie he needed to rinse him out with the hose. I told him to cut a few holes in the deer for the water to run out, you guessed it, he forgot how to do that as well!! I have since heard of this AMNESIA that takes over a person’s mind when they have to deal with a somewhat unpleasant task but this is the first time I had actually witnessed it in person, it’s a strange disease folks!!! I will say that as soon as the deer was hung, Eddie not only found his light, but also his knife, folks it was a miracle, his amnesia was cured!!! So we finally got the deer hung, rinsed and cooled and over the next few days took some great pictures and video as we do when we harvest deer so we can review it and remember it any time we wish. On Friday that week, Eddie took me up and showed me where he was standing and where the deer was. I ranged the distance and it was 51YARDS! The man doesn’t even have a 50 yard pin! AND the deer was gut shot and should have ran forever but for some reason he just lay down and died right there. That NEVER happens, I mean NEVER! But looking back, I simply think it was meant to be. Everything came together for Eddie that day and while I will rag him every chance I get about his amnesia, I am so very glad he let me be a part of his harvest. If it turns out to be his last hunt, last deer, last time in camp, then he made it one I will remember for the rest of my life and I thank him for allowing my brother and I to be there with him.
So while we don’t know what the future holds for Eddie, and we realize this may have been his final hunt, there will never be a day that I don’t remember the events that took place that November week in 2011 and I know I will relive these memories nearly every day. The horns from Eddie’s buck will soon be hung on the wall in the cabin for us all to enjoy and remember and as for me, I know that every time I look at them, two things will come to mind. The first is AMNESIA, and the second is 51 YARDS, are you kidding me? So with a heavy heart, I say THANK YOU to Eddie for providing myself and all the rest of the camp gang a ton of memories over the past 30 years or so. It has made me realize that it never matters whether or not we take a deer, it simply matters that we go to camp together because those memories are more precious than any deer can ever be. As for me, I know that when I think of these memories I will smile and laugh out loud many times a day and for that I will always be thankful. Our time here is precious, we need to make the most of it every chance we get. Thank you for letting me share this story with you, and as I close, I’ll say just one more thing. FISH PANTS, ok that’s another story indeed, I think those of us in camp will keep that one for ourselves!!