Me? Build a Cabin?

First Cabin

First Cabin


I never expected to build a cabin. I really thought I was going to be a Rancher’s Wife and not even one of the ones that helps out, outdoors, either. I was going to be perfect Susie Homemaker, keeping the house spotless, the meals on time and maybe do the gardening. Of course children would be the perfect ‘seen but not heard’ kind, coming along 2 or more years apart at least 4 years after I got married. As babies, they would sleep a lot. Ha.  God is really laughing about all that.

As I thread my way through the clutter in my home, I think of how clueless I was. It is probably a very good thing I could not foresee the future. I did get to do a lot of gardening, so there is that. Besides, perfect children would have been so boring. I got interesting children instead. Children that thrived on 2 hours of sleep a night.

My first experience in using a hammer was to build an Arctic entryway on the house the Toad and I owned near North Pole, Alaska. Surprising enough, it did not collapse or fall off the house.

My second experience in building was a semi-underground log cabin. (See picture above) I was still extremely afraid of ladders, so built, placed vapor barrier, insulation, dirt and built on some more until I could step off the bank onto the roof. Yay, no ladder needed on the entire project. It was a case of build or lose the property as it was a Homesite.

My third experience in building was a frame cabin. 16’ x 20’ with a partial loft. It was supposed to be the first of many small rental cabins with the rent paying for construction of the next cabin and so on.

I started that project in January 2001, after a warm spell about 45 degrees F. made it possible to start my old Dozer. I cleared the snow and brush away from an area not in the way of anything else planned. A Pulaski and muscle made semi-level pads to place pier blocks on as a foundation. A small sawmill in Fairbanks provided rough cut lumber at a reasonable price so I made the floor deck of 2×6’s, then insulated between the joists and added a plywood deck.

Well, that wasn’t so bad now, was it? The Grouch stopped by a couple of times and helped out but usually told me how it was never going to work, it was all going to slide down the hill during break-up and other helpful tips.

I kept on going. Using rough cut 2×4’s, I built the wall frames. A friend helped me raise the beam across the top of the walls to support the loft floor. I used 2×4’s 12 inches apart for the floor upstairs as I didn’t have the money to buy any more 2×6’s. Then it got scary. I needed to use a ladder to work on the upstairs. I was really running out of supplies by this time, so only built one side wall, 4 feet high, then the end gables, using a ridgepole for rafter support. I was able to get rafters and the same friend did help out by putting the rafters and metal roofing on. I house wrapped and insulated it without any siding on the outside.

The small sawmill had rough cut slab boards that I bought to use as siding on the outside walls and it sturdied up the building a lot to have some nailed up all around the outside. I couldn’t reach very high, while holding each board, so would place a nail in just enough to hold one end of the board while I nailed the other end in place, nailed that one and pulled the nail to use for the next board. Once I got to the highest I could reach, that was it. No more siding, just house wrap above that. The windows were easy to place. I had some on hand and used their measurements while building the walls, then just slid them into place. I bought 6 of them and one was given to me. I started sheetrocking the downstairs, even though I dislike sheetrock. It was very cheap, less than $4 a sheet.

A lady and her daughter came up from Florida to visit and my Granddaughter was staying with me, so the two girls taped and mudded the sheetrock.

I made a spiral staircase for the small loft. It was a royal pain as I hadn’t a clue what I was doing but it is still working, 14 years later. I put part of it up, The Grouch and his son did put the rest of it up.

I nailed plywood up for the ceiling. That was fun. I played tour Guide for a nice man visiting from Utah with his son, taking them to Valdez fishing. When we returned, they build a small bathroom downstairs and sheetrocked it, too.

The cabin wasn’t even finished when The Grouch moved in and has been in residence ever since with a brief bout of moving back to Pennsylvania, never to return, although he was back here quite soon. The first 3 1/2 years he was on payroll so the cabin was part of his pay. When he started getting a monthly check, he paid rent a few months.

Since that third cabin, I seem to always have some sort of building in progress. Mom sold her house, sent the money up and we built her a home. Then I built a shop, then we built my Daughter a house. We are still working on my Grandson’s house. We are also still working on a small gift shop, a very small rental cabin, both using mainly salvaged materials. I kind of like building. I still don’t like ladders but I use them anyway.


“I am Fine, I am Okay”



   The Guide I worked for took 3 of our clients out on horseback while I took one of the clients that was as fond of riding a horse as I am, out to glass another valley on foot.  We spent a pleasant day and had camp to ourselves all evening as the others were doing a spike camp and would be back tomorrow evening.  I listened to his hunting stories a while, then we turned in for the night.

We were up early and returned to the hillside we were using as a base to glass the lovely valley below.  By late afternoon, we spotted a very nice bull with a couple of cows moving into the valley to feed.  It was getting late and too far to stalk before full darkness so we headed back to camp, determined to be waiting for them in the morning at first light.

No one was in camp yet, when we arrived but we prepared a nice evening meal so it would be ready when they arrived.  We were almost finished preparing the meal when we heard the horses coming in.  The client went over to see if he could help them and see if they had any luck.

He soon returned, helping one of the riders to a seat beside the fire.  The man was obviously injured, but trying very hard not to let on that he even felt any pain.  When I looked at him, he said, “I am fine.  Really.  I am okay.”

The smell of dinner did perk him up a bit and soon he had a plate of food in front of him and started eating.

Everyone else straggled over, picking up plates and filling them as they passed the Dutch oven on the edge of the fire pit.  We asked how their trip had gone and they mumbled a bit between mouthfuls.

The Guide was done eating first and started the story of their excursion.  They had covered a lot of ground and saw some nice bulls but nothing that excited them.  It was still early in the hunt and they wanted to see if they could find something larger.  The injured man was only along for the ride as he was a non-resident alien and it would have been very expensive for him to get a license and tags.

As they turned to come back, the horse he was riding must have gotten stung or something because he went completely crazy, bucking and finally falling and rolling on the tundra.  The man riding him was still in the saddle when the horse rolled.

Everyone was stunned by the suddenness of the event and the poor horse was thrashing and screaming in pain.  The Guide threw his reins to one of the other clients and was over, pulling the man out from under the thrashing horse and trying to calm the horse when he saw that the horse had a badly broken leg.  He pulled his handgun and shot the horse.

He turned to the injured man, laying there on the ground, gasping for breath and also in pain.

“Are you okay?”

The man looked up at him, looked at the horse, looked at the gun still in the Guide’s hand and stammered out, “Yes, I am fine.  I’m okay.”

As we sat around the fire, whenever anyone would look over at the man, he would still hold up one hand and say, “I am fine.  Really.  I am okay.”

Do-it-yourself Surgery, Part 3

Our Old Ranch House

We seemed to work cattle quite often and I seemed to always manage to either get slightly damaged or in the way.

This time, we were loading a truckload of cattle to haul for sale. Dad didn’t get the truck backed to the loading ramp very well, so jammed a log in the gap and I had to stand on the large boulder beside the truck and shoo the cows away from trying to escape out the side gap. Yeah, you can see this one coming. I didn’t.

I was busily shooing the cows back from the gap and getting yelled at for not keeping them moving faster when at least one cow stepped on the other end of the log between the bottom of the truckbed and the edge of the ramp. Wheeee! The end closest to me smacked me under the chin and flipped me backward off the boulder.

I came to a bit later, flat on my back on the ground, the sky slowly circling overhead. Someone was yelling at me and I tried to get up, but kept falling back. Finally I managed to get up and staggered over to the boulder and back up on it, shooing the cows back in the gap.

Finally the truck was loaded and we all got back on our horses for the ride almost 10 miles back to the house. Every step the horse made felt like a small hammer thumping my head. I couldn’t open my mouth to talk, even. My chin looked like a caricature of a lantern jawed prizefighter. The bruising was quite impressive, too.

I found that I couldn’t let anything touch my chin or it hurt even worse and I would get woozy and a little sick to my stomach. If I turned in my sleep and it touched anything, I woke up in pain. As the swelling went down, I discovered a hard small lump in my chin that wasn’t attached but painful if touched. Then I found I had a nick in my jawline about the same size. Evidently a small piece of my jawbone was free floating around in my chin tissue.

I eased it back into position, but it wouldn’t stay. Each attempt left me weak in the knees and ill feeling. Finally I decided enough was enough. No one was in the house, so I sterilized a razor blade and did some surgery using the bathroom mirror to see what I was doing.

Just as I made my cut, Mom opened the bathroom door and made a small screech. I jumped a little bit so have a bit larger scar than I expected under my chin. I did get the piece of bone out, convinced Mom I wasn’t doing a weird suicide thing and bandaged up my chin.

Life on the ranch was always interesting.

Do-it-yourself Surgery, Part 2

Ranch View

Several years after the surgery on my foot, which healed up finally, I had to do a very minor one by myself, on myself.

We had been working cattle on our back range, many miles from the house. It usually took 3 days to move cattle from one pasture to the next, so we left home before daylight and returned after dark. The 1st morning, we rode to work, then corralled the horses in the evening and returned home in the back of my Dad’s cattle truck.

My Dad usually took the shortcut home. This shortcut was the dry creek bed, over rocks, small waterfalls, downed trees and other assorted obstacles that would cause most folks to at least pause before driving over or through them. Not my Dad.

The truck was a 2 1/2 ton cabover Jeep 4 (6) wheel drive. It seemed able to go just about anywhere and its main drawback was a distressing habit of losing a front wheel while being driven.

This night on our way home, Dad took another shortcut that might save a few minutes and drove us right off a small rock ledge. I was standing up, holding onto the stock rack for dear life and as we became slightly airborne, I swear my life flashed before my eyes just a little bit.

When we landed, I immediately wished we were back in freefall. The rack bounced out of the stake pockets and hit me under the lower lip, forcing it into my upper front teeth and I heard something snap. What goes up, usually comes down, and it did. Right on top of both my feet. I was wearing flipflops and they are not a lot of protection from a long section of stock rack.

I plopped on the bed of the truck, one hand over my mouth, the other holding my damaged foot. I bounced a lot on the rest of the ride, but it could not be helped, I could not stand.

I hobbled through the kitchen to the bathroom before Mom got a good look at the bloody mess of my mouth and shut the door behind me. I sat on the side of the tub and ran cold water over my feet and tried to pry my fingers away from my throbbing mouth and lower lip. Then I slid down to the floor and washed my face and hands in the tub of cold water.

Most of the bleeding seemed to stop, so I got up and let the messy water out of the tub and looked in the mirror. Yikes.

My lower lip was swollen way out with 2 dark lines across it, just under my lip. I could feel something in my lip so finally opened my mouth a bit and pulled my lip down. There, shining white through the blood were the backs of both my front teeth.

Somehow, the whole tooth had not broken off, just the enamel off the backs of both, so my teeth still looked fine from the front. I tried to pull the pieces out of my lip, but they were firmly embedded.

Out came the alcohol, the peroxide and the tweezers. I soaked the tweezers and then carefully pulled the pieces out of my lip. Then, I quickly poured the peroxide, then the alcohol over my lip and almost blacked out and sat firmly back down on the floor.

The thud I made hitting the floor brought Mom and she kinda yelped when she saw my bloody face as it was bleeding again.

I used a wet washcloth and held it firmly against my lip, wanting to whine the whole time. The bleeding stopped and Mom brought me some ice cubes to wrap in the washcloth. Most of the swelling went down before I went to bed, but by the next day, I was very colorful and sore. We finished the cattle and rode the horses home the next evening. Just another day on the ranch.

A One Eared Elephant


I was on the phone to Charlie who was working up north at the time when a friend stopped by the house. He was in a very good mood and wanted to go celebrate the very first contract of his new construction company. He had invited everyone he knew that had encouraged him and helped make it happen and needed a designated driver, too. That would be me.

Charlie and I had helped out as much as we could and we were both happy for our friend. Charlie told me to go ahead and go, enjoy myself and tell him all about it later.
A lady friend was living in our basement apartment at the time, so she came along also as it was going to be an enjoyable evening out for everyone. The fact that it was around -40 degrees and heavy ice fog didn’t dim the mood of the celebrants.

I made sure we had enough warm clothing just in case of any problems with the vehicle and we headed over to the Pump House on Chena Pump Road.

This is a nice restaurant (President Reagan ate there) and most of the people invited were already waiting for us to show up. We were seated in the middle of the main dining room and the place was crowded. Just because it was a very cold night didn’t mean people didn’t go out on a Saturday night.

The food was great, drinks flowed freely and everyone was having an entertaining evening but the instigator of our group decided it was too dull. He wanted some dancing and music.

The more he thought about it, the more he wanted to extend the evening and enjoy being entertained. Finally he jumped up on the table and started telling jokes. Several people at other tables started clapping and hooting, encouraging him to greater lengths. He did a few dance steps but no one would get up on the table with him to dance.

He finally couldn’t think of any more stories or jokes to tell and decided to ask the growing audience if anyone there had ever seen a one eared elephant. No one had.

He pulled one front pocket of his jeans out and fanned the material out nicely, then started to unbutton his pants.

Several of us managed to get him down off the table and hustled out the door as management was on the phone even as we bundled him out the door.

The slap of the freezing night air hit him like an actual slap to the face as we stuffed him into his winter coat and then into the pickup. He tried to convince us he could drive but we overruled that immediately and he gave in.

The backseat was full of tools and winter gear, so all three of us had to squish together in the front seat.

I only had to pull over once for him to hurl and we were almost to my house, when the flashing red lights appeared behind us. I pulled over immediately.

The Officer was very nice, but there was a tail light out on the pickup. He got a recap of the entire evening from my passengers, he asked if he should follow us home and assist us into the house. I told him I thought we could get in the house okay, but I would appreciate him following us in the heavy ice fog with the back light out.

We made it home okay and the officer was kind enough to wait until we were in the house before he pulled away.

Road graders, really OLD Road graders

Nothing to do with the post, just my favorite toy.

Nothing to do with the post, just my favorite toy.

I was building a road to the Homesite Charlie had won in a drawing while he worked up north. A friend was having some difficulties and no longer in the construction business so told me I could use the old Road grader he owned. The stipulation was, I had to start it and drive it away. No one offered assistance and I found there were 3 shutoff switches between the batteries and the starter. That part alone took me almost all day.

I did get it started and luckily for me, the blade was raised already so I didn’t have to try figuring that part out, just yet. I found a gear that it would move in without killing the engine and headed out toward the Homesite location up the Elliott.

I took the back roads as I didn’t know what the regulations were for someone driving something like that on public roads without a clue on how to operate it.

That weekend, Charlie was home from working up north and we went out to do some work on the Homesite. He admired the old Road grader, started it up and had me get up in it with him to ride along, I thought.

He drove it about 100 feet, raising and lowering the blade, tilting the whole deck and using all the array of gears and levers like a maestro. Then he stopped the Road grader, jumped down, told me to have fun and left. Sheesh, if I had known I was supposed to be the operator, I would have been paying attention.

Road graders are a lot of fun, but the newer ones are not be as rough on the Operator. The one I ran was gear driven, an OLD Wabco 440. No hydraulics but many levers and pedals. There were levers on the dash and ones up through the floor that you used your knees or thighs to press side to side while working the dash levers with your hands and the foot pedals with your feet, of course. If you didn’t release the knee levers quick enough the lever beat the insides of your legs black and blue. Gear driven is immediate pain for neglecting to pay attention.

Charlie tried to convince me to try operating a dragline, but after watching them on the river bank tipping up when the bucket snagged something heavy on the river bottom, I said “no thanks.”

Do-it-yourself Surgery, Part 1

1941 Ten Mile Creek Homestead

We lived in the Boonies and loved it. Wild as the woodland creatures around us, none of us had much for social skills. We played in the woods and the swift running creek that in most places would be considered a small swift river. Then we decided the off-limits abandoned mill pond would be a better swimming hole.

We didn’t mind that when we waded in, it had 2 feet of water and 2 feet of soft mud. Some areas had only a foot of water and 3 feet of mud. The bottom had sharp rocks and some random bottles thrown in by the former mill workers. At least most were deep enough that we seldom found them.

As we found the bottles, we removed them from the pond. Then one of us got the bright idea to build a raft. We crafted our raft from green alder wood, which was easy to cut down with an ax and shape. We built it on the steep bank that dropped off into the pond. It’s a good thing the bank was so steep. That raft was heavy. We finally managed to get it into the pond and it floated nicely. Well, it floated nicely until someone got on it.

The two youngest boys ended up using the raft the most. With both of them on it, it floated, but was about 2 inches under the surface. Due to the high amount of mud under the water which kept the pond a rich mud color, it appeared that the two boys were standing in shallow water holding a long pole, each.

The first time they tried poling the raft, the poles stuck and stayed in the mud. The boys could hang onto the poles and let the raft float on away from them, or they could let go and leave the poles upright, stuck firmly in the soft gooey mud. They finally figured out just how to pole gently to travel around the small pond.

Before we upgraded the mill pond to swimming hole, we used to rescue stranded salmon fry in drying puddles along the creek and dump them into the pond. They grew quite well and soon the pond was stocked with landlocked salmon and good fishing. The fish would freak us out when they bumped into our legs in the water. We managed to scare each other with tales of monsters lurking under the mud.

Somehow, I managed to step on a broken whiskey bottle in the mud and sliced the bottom of my left foot badly, leaving a large flap of flesh hanging. It was bleeding freely and I sat on a rock beside the pond trying to convince one of the other kids to go up to the house and get Mom.

Since we were not supposed to be in that pond, no one would go up and let her know I was hurt. I ended up having to trudge up the dusty road and tell her myself. The flap of flesh was totally caked in dust and mud by the time I got to the house. I was trying not to step down on the wound, but there is not many ways to walk without touching the bottom of your foot to the ground.

Mom tried cleaning the dirt out of the wound and finally decided it was too dirty to replace the flesh flap into the hole. She sat me down on one of the steps outside so we didn’t mess up anything in the house. Then I had to hold my own foot still while she cut the large flap of flesh loose from my foot. She used her sewing scissors as that was the sharpest instrument she could find. My foot would start jerking as she started snipping away the flap of flesh. It took quite a while as live human flesh isn’t easy to cut through. I was having a very hard time holding my foot still. If I let it jerk, I got reprimanded or smacked. She finally tidied it up fairly well and poured merthiolate into the hole. That stuff burns and certainly took my mind off what we had just did.

Mom made a bandage of sorts to cover the entire bottom of my foot as most of it was involved in the damage. I wore a couple of pairs of socks over it to try to keep more dirt out of it. It took several months to heal and at various times it would get infected and it was back to the merthiolate. I had to clean it daily with peroxide and rubbing alcohol which was one way to make sure I never went back into that pond.

Finding Trouble

Eastern Oregon

The first we heard, was when someone stopped by and asked if we had seen the small plane owned by a rancher farther up the valley. Mom and I joined the search and drove downriver, then up a side stream toward the higher hills in the flight path the plane would have been on, on its way home.

The man flying the plane was a very careful pilot and it seemed impossible that he could have possibly made some kind of mistake. He would never fly if he had been drinking and was very careful, even when he didn’t have family with him.

This trip, he had his wife, all his daughters plus a neighbor’s daughter. His son did not make the trip as he was recovering from a cold or the flu.

Mom and I drove slowly along the highway, searching the hills on both sides of the road for any sign of tree damage or fire. We finally spotted something that didn’t look right in the sparse juniper trees on the right side of the highway as we headed west.

We parked off the edge of the road and started hiking up the hill. There was the plane, looking like it had dropped straight down out of the sky. There were charred areas directly above the plane in the tree limbs, but the fire had not spread, nor had the plane sheared off trees or limbs on either side.

Mom began taking pictures and we moved around the plane on all sides, documenting the damage to the plane and the ground around it. There was no movement in the plane.

Mom stepped to the open door, gave a gasp and started clicking pictures faster than ever, not touching a thing. Then she came over where she had told me to stay and said, they are all dead.

The inside of the plane was charred from fire, the girls were all in their seats, bent over facing the front, with their coat pulled up over their heads as though they were trying to filter out the smoke. From the waist up, they were not burned but from the waist down, they were just charred and unrecognizable as part of a human. We could not see the parents and did not want to step into the plane and disturb evidence.

The flags we had left tied on limbs to mark location soon guided several men up to the plane. The men looked at us, then the plane, then saw Mom’s cameras. One that was evidently the leader walked over quickly, grabbed the 16 mm. movie camera and opened the side, exposing all the film in it. Mom was quickly rewinding her small 35 mm still camera and popped out the film cartridge. The man rudely grabbed it from her and ordered us off the hill.

We hurried down to the Jeep and went home. Neither of us felt comfortable with that group of silent men.

These men were not in uniform, nor were they locals that we would have recognized. We never did learn who they were nor what authority they had to confiscate Mom’s film and expose the movie film.

Later, when a report was given on the cause of the accident, they blamed the pilot, saying he must have been drinking. They also said he flew the plane into the side of the hill. Unless he managed to drop the plane straight down, I don’t see how he managed that. There were junipers all around the plane and none were broken, only the ones directly above the plane.

Life Alone

Best picture of me, ever

Best picture of me, ever

I never planned on living alone. I was never a very social person, but I also never planned on having a life alone. Well, I also never really had a plan.

If ever a life has been lived in the moment, mine is it. I didn’t plan on being a cowboy as a teenager in Oregon. That just happened. I did learn a lot, but it was not on my list of things I wanted to do.

For a very brief period of time, I considered going to college and becoming a teacher. Then all the Laws started changing to the point that a teacher could not spank or do much to correct one of the little monsters, so I figured why should I spend 4 more years going to school which I always hated, anyway? By that time I had my choice of scholarships and refused them all. I was done with school. Don’t get me wrong, I think school is important and I would hate to go to a doctor that had not bothered to attend one.

Then by some bit of insanity I found myself married and not to a rancher. I had some passing thoughts about marrying a rancher and eventually maybe having some children, but it wasn’t a firm decision. Yet here I was, married to the least likely to ever be a rancher or even steadily employed. Talk about someone that had no idea what to look for in a husband, that would be me.

Given enough time, we finally divorced and I would have been alone, except I needed to babysit to pay my rent and work to pay for the divorce. Once that was all taken care of, I was invited to mine for a summer and by the next year, I was married yet again.

For once, I got it right. I loved being married to Charlie and we enjoyed our life together. Then he died and I was back to being alone. This alone was painful and debilitating. I didn’t function well and was not in a good frame of mind, at all.

I had read the Bible as a child, in school as there was one in the library and every year I read all the books. It took me ages to get through all the begats. There were a few stories, fictionalizing some Bible stories and I enjoyed them very much. We did not have any religious instruction at home and had never been near a church.

I met someone and thought it was going to be good times again, but I was not thinking correctly on that one, at all. It dragged on too long, but I have always been stubborn and hate to admit when I make mistakes. This one was another doozy.

I bought some property, my Mom sold her house and sent up the money, so I, with some help, built her a house. She couldn’t be alone and I didn’t want to continue the failed relationship, so we moved into her new house.

My daughter’s house sold and she also came out and we built her a nice house also. It has been a learning experience all the way around and I guess most of life really is.

Mom and I were both baptized the same day by my sister’s husband, in our Church. It was great. Then we went up to Chena Hot Springs and had a lovely swim. What a wonderful day.

Things were going well, Mom was feeling better than she had in a long time, when suddenly she became ill and we rushed her to the hospital. She died after a 5 day stay and I came home to an empty house.

Yes, these last few years since Mom died have been by myself but I am alone, not lonely. There is a major difference.

Big Ben

House we were building

Big Ben was just what his name implied. He was a very big man. My Dad was 6’3” and at that time usually around 190 pounds of muscle. Big Ben towered over him. When we still lived in Mapleton during the war years, Big Ben lived with us as fuel was rationed and he had to be closer to his work which was tree falling as the spruce on the Oregon coast was needed to build airplane frames out of.

After the war, we moved up Ten Mile Creek, north of Florence and had an 1800’s type of growing up. No electricity, running water, phone, radio or mail delivery, just like I live now.

Big Ben lived out closer to the ocean about nine miles from where we now lived and would come visit quite often. He and Dad liked to walk up the dirt road, looking for game to shoot and bring back for dinner.

One time, as the crossed the bridge over the north fork of Ten Mile Creek, Big Ben spotted a nice sized buck deer drinking, just under the edge of the bridge. He decided against wasting a bullet by just jumping off the bridge onto the buck’s back and cutting its throat.

Almost everything went as planned. He climbed to the top of the railing without the buck even hearing him. He pulled out his large skinning knife and jumped. That’s where the plan fizzled.

The first thing the deer knew, some huge heavy thing landed on its back and grabbed it around the throat. The deer didn’t just meekly stand there. From that point on, it was a fight. Big Ben soon was trying to get away from the deer. By the time the deer allowed Big Ben to get away, Big Ben was completely stripped of his heavy clothing. The neck and collar of his work shirt was still around his neck, his socks were on his feet, the cuffs of his pants were around his ankles but all the clothing and a good portion of his skin was shredded and hanging in tatters between his collar and cuffs. The deer not only used his antlers to good effect, his hooves slashed and cut their way all over him. He said that was the first time he knew deer were so flexible and double jointed.

They walked the mile back down the road to our home. Big Ben stayed just out of sight of the house as he didn’t have anything to cover himself with. Dad walked on up to the house and got some clothes for Big Ben to wear. They cleaned up most of the hoof and antler slashes and none required medical attention and they were used to patching themselves up in the woods anyway. He decided not to stay and went home. He also decided to never save a bullet and use a knife to hunt with.