’Twas the night before hunting season, when all through the forest,
Not a creature was stirring, not even the boldest.
The wall tents were erected with the utmost of care,
In hopes of bull elk would soon be in crosshair.

The hunters were all nestled snug on their cots,
While visions of daybreak danced through their thoughts.
And snoring commenced after a sating night cap,
We’d all settled down for a long autumn’s nap.

When suddenly the alarm clock arose such a clatter,
We sprang from our cots to see what was the matter.
Donning our socks, boots, shirts, pants, and vests,
We saddled our mules and broke trail west.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave the luster of creatures wandering canyon below.
When what to our wondering eyes should appear,
But a herd of a dozen grazing mule deer.

With a kick of the heel, my mule livened his pace,
Others ensued as if in a mule race.
More rapid than blue jays the courses they came,
We whispered, cursed, and called them by name;

“Whoa, NUMBER-7! Whoa, WAYLON! Whoa, BUCK!
On, MOOSE! On, JOE! On, SAM! On, DOC!
To the top of the ridge top! To the next deadfall!
Now dash away, dash away, dash away all!”

As silent the morning before a blue grouse doth fly,
When they are startled by snorts and our passing by.
So up to the ridge top our coursers they flew,
With hunters, rifles, and saddle packs, too.

And then, in the dawn, though I needed no proof,
The cracking of horns and pounding of hoof.
As I drew rifle from scabbard and quickly turned around,
The bulls left frantically without making a sound.

All dressed for the hunt from our head to our feet,
The elk were moving, it was time to be fleet.
Our rifle slings we flung hastily over shoulders,
Ran through the sagebrush, grasses, and boulders.

Our eyes did twinkle, our dimples so merry,
The cheeks of our faces grew red like a cherry.
Our droll little mouths were drawn up like a bow,
Cutting elk track through the wind-crusted snow.

We clenched our gloved hands tight in pursuit,
No elk were in sight. No one could shoot.
Over another crested hill did we glide,
Alas, we saw the big bull turn broadside.

He was chubby and plump and bugled rather loudly,
His harem of cows were displayed quite proudly;
He threw back his head, and bugled again,
Made a quick jump forward and started to spin.

A squeeze of the finger, my rifle did crack.
The big bull went down and rolled onto his back.
The bull did not move, the cows…they ran away.
We knew what we’d be doing for the rest of the day.

We spoke not a word, but went straight to our work,
Gathered the mules, gave lead ropes a jerk;
Quartered up the big bull and tied the top knot,
Getting back to our camp is what we all sought.

The mules sprang into action as they carried the weight,
The distance up the canyon grew smaller from great;
A wreck from broken sash did we experience on top,
Repacking the load, picking up most of what dropped.

Back to our camp, none the worse for wear,
Feels great to see my grandparents there.
The elk quarters were hung high up in the trees,
There is no place on Earth where I’d rather be.

Our tags are all filled, our eyes nearly in tear,
The end of the hunt and another good year;
To all my buddies as they drive out of sight.


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