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When I was young, my two older brothers Nick and Kyle always took me on the wildest adventures. We lived in the beautiful Pennsylvania plains so there was plenty to do. Summers were spent chasing foxes and making trails in the long grass. At night we would lie underneath the stars breathing in the warm August air and the scents that came with it. However, it wasn’t
always like that.
Nick and Kyle were the sort of boys you’d find chapping the teacher’s hides in the middle of the school year. They didn’t want a girl tagging along with them cramping their style so I spent the days inside learning kitchen and craft while they were out and about having fun. This period of torture lasted until I was about nine when Mom flung open the door, persuading Dad to take away Nick and Kyle’s fireworks rations unless they take me along with them. She claimed that she had nothing left to teach me, but I think I was getting annoying. (I recall countless times whining about how unfair it was that the boys always got to go off on their own). But when Nick and Kyle did take me, it wasn’t as grand as I thought. I was happy, though they were resentful. I was a forced nuisance. I wasn’t wanted around. So they decided if they had to take me along, they were determined to give me the most miserable time.
It was the first day of my boundless adventures with my brothers and I remember I was quite excited, dancing around them like I was some royal jester ushering them onward with handstands and cartwheels. We made it into the blanket of forest that surrounded our house and I grew hushed with anticipation, but on the inside I was teeming with emotion. Nick stopped, whispered something into Kyle’s ear and Kyle nodded, turning towards me.
“Alright Kit, just because Mom kicked you out doesn’t mean that you can just tag along with us. You gotta pass a test first.”
I stood there, eyes begging, pleading.
“You’ve got to catch a buck deer” he said pleased with himself. “And not just any buck deer. This here deer is the biggest, meanest, most vicious buck you’ve ever seen – with antlers the length of your arms” he said, arms drawn wide.
My heart fell a little, but I wanted to be in their group more than anything in the world.
“I’ll do it,” I said, hoping my voice didn’t sound as nervous as I really was.
Nick and Kyle led me down a few winding trails to a small clearing where a small herd of maybe five or so doe were grazing. A great buck of enormous stature and sharp white antlers strode proudly across a narrow brook and greeted its fellow kin.
“There he is” Nick whispered excitedly. We were huddled on the ground peeking through the cover of a bush. They were not even twenty yards away. Kyle pulled a dirty red cloth from his pocket, needled a whole through it, and looped it off with a string, presenting it to me.
“You get this thing around him and you’re in.”
I took it, found my breath, and moved out, slowly making a perimeter around the deer. I was no more than ten yards away when I cracked a twig and the whole herd flicked their heads towards me. I was frozen-still, barely breathing, sinking low into the green brush, hoping I’d disappear. I couldn’t see anything, but I could hear something poking its sword-crested muzzle in the brush. How bold that buck was! I saw the tip of those glinting antlers and I couldn’t contain myself any longer. I gave a yell and latched myself around the stag’s neck. Before I knew what I was doing, there was a loud bang and the forest was whirling around me. I was slipping and saw my chance. I reached out and looped the tie around its hind leg, red cloth flapping. I did it! I was in! But then the hoof came up and I was out cold.
When I woke up Nick and Kyle were grinning over me through the fading sunlight.
“Gee Kit, that was one mighty tussle you put up with that old Buck.”
“Ooh and look at that eye. He got you pretty good.”
“Oh, I reckon it’s nothing a nice slab of meat can’t cure.”
“And you even managed to tie him after all of that!”
“Old Buckeye, you are one crazy son-of-a-gun.”
And from that point on I was one of them.