Today, my kids are home from school because in Pennsylvania, school is closed on the first day of deer season. I grew up in Boston and spent most of my seven years on active duty in the western United States or in West Germany. In those places, deer hunting was something you did away from towns and cities, often quite far away because the deer were up in the mountains. Or you just could not hunt close to populated areas.
In Pennsylvania, the city and borough lines are sometimes where the hunting begins.
After I left active duty in November 1979, I lived in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. My apartment was two blocks from the eastern edge of the E-town marked by the PA Route 743 South.
One day, I got home from work at noon. As I went up the outside stairs, my neighbor across the alley, Jimmy, drove into his driveway with hooves sticking out of the trunk of his Ford Falcon. I stopped and looked.
He jumped from the car and yelled, “Gimme a hand, Guss. I have to gut this thing.” He pulled a big blue plastic sheet from his garage. The sheet had brass eyelets so I assumed it was some kind of shelter.
Jimmy spreads out the sheet, then pulled the deer from the trunk. Jimmy dropped the six-point buck with a headshot, so the body was intact. Jimmy slit open the deer’s abdomen and we started pulling out entrails. We shoved the organs and entrails into a plastic bag then put the deer and the bag back in the trunk of the Falcon. Jimmy sprayed the blood off the plastic sheet with a hose then hung it over his fence to dry.
While we cleaned up, Jimmy said he saw the deer in a field south of route 743 about 100 yards from the road. He pulled off the road onto the edge of the road. The deer was in West Donegal Township, so he could shoot. He leaned on the roof of the Falcon and dropped the deer with one round. Then he dragged the deer across the field and drove straight home.
The whole job took about ten minutes, then Jimmy was off to the butcher. I started back up the stairs. Jimmy had hosed off my hands and wrists, but I need to take a shower and get the blood off my shirt in cold water. Then I needed to do my homework for the next day’s class.
Being a good neighbor in Pennsylvania was different than in Boston.