As yellow school buses hit the road morning and night, it is obvious that summer is coming to a close and hunting season is arriving upon us. I can recall the first deer season I spent in Arkansas in the fall of 1960. Deer season reminds me of a local jokester, Hugh Smith, a grocery store owner in Winslow.
One day he asked the new food salesman to buy him a bottle of pop while he waited, unknown for Hugh’s wife, Hazel, to give him the grocery order. He nagged the man until he finally said, “Oh, go get a bottle,” and slapped a dime on the counter. Hugh went and got his pop bottle, and then he acted like he was going to steal the dime from the counter when his own wife wasn’t looking. The salesman jumped up and shouted, “You worthless outfit. You bummed that money off me. Don’t you dare steal that poor woman’s money.”
Then one day a new bread man came to his Winslow store and Hugh asked him for a ride back to Fayetteville, Ark. The driver said, the company rules said no one can ride except another  employee. He kept and kept after him, until the man said all right but don’t tell anyone. Hugh agreed.
“I’m ready to go,” the driver said.
“Wait, wait,” Hugh said.
The man frowned and shook his head. “What do I have to wait for?
“Oh, I won’t be long. You will wait for me, won’t you?”
“What for?”
“I got my goat tied to a stake up on the hill out back and I got to go get her.”
“You ain’t taking no goat with me –”  Then a few choice words and he was gone.
Highway 74 ran right in front of Hugh’s store. The road was blocked one day by log trucks – folks gathered in cars and pickups. One woman stopped in a nice car. Hugh got his phony sheriff badge out and showed it to her.
“Let me see your drivers license ma’am.”
She went to looking, acting more nervous by the minute. She began shaking and dumped her purse out on the seat beside her. Hugh’s conscience went to hurting him and he said nice as he could, “Ma’am, I know you have one. You will find it at home. Drive careful.” He said he never aimed to make her cry, but she drove off bawling.
This brings us to the first day of deer season; he and some of his kin went and camped over by Devil’s Den. When they got up, Hugh couldn’t be found. He didn’t come back to camp until mid morning. They all knew he’d been up to something. “Boys you know there ain’t as many deer hunters here as you’d think. I just started down this road, showing my badge and asking folks if they had a deer tag.”
“Why Hugh, you could have got shot doing that,” his brother said.
“No, some said they was only fishing in Lee’s Creek, one or two said they were only squirrel hunting. The others got up and left, must have been late to where they were going because they spun their tires leaving camp behind.”
There was only one day of deer season on a Tuesday in 1960. Two bucks with horns like tumbleweeds were hung up outside of Hugh’s store that evening. That was a big deer hunting season back 60 years ago. 
May the good Lord bless and keep you.
Western novelist Dusty Richards and his wife Pat live on Beaver Lake in northwest Arkansas. For more information about his books you can email Dusty by visiting and clicking on ‘Contact Us’ or call 1-866-532-1960.


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