by Lloyd Smale
hunting memory worth more than gold
When a boy is young and very poor, Im sure he looks forward to
the time when he is older, when, hopefully, his life will be different.
He likely thinks that the good times, the great happenings in his life,
will come later.
That was how I felt more than half a century ago, when I was fourteen.
My family was about as poor as poor can get, but that year, way back
in 1946, brought me a hunting memory that has remained clear in my mind
for my entire life. My kids, grandkids and anyone willing to listen
has heard me tell of my hunting experience that year.
I was born and raised in the small town of Cedarville. I had just gotten
my first deer hunting license and had been asked by two of my brothers-in-law,
Dean and Dale Kammers and their dad, Joe (St. Ignace natives) to go
hunting with them and their three Native friends, Pete Moses and Jim
and Pete Wasageesyck. I was pretty excited about being able to hunt
with all those seasoned hunters.
Back then, deer baiting, scaffolds and warm blinds werent part
of the hunting picture. Walking through the woods or driving the swamps
was how things were done. Driving a swamp entailed having a few men
go into the swamp, shoot guns and make a lot of other noise, hoping
to drive a deer out to the other guys stationed on runways.
On this particular November morning, we were west of an old Native American
graveyard along what is now M-134, several miles from Cedarville.
Early in the morning, Pete came out of the woods, noticed that I was
crying, and wanted to know what was up. It was four below that morning,
and already I was so cold that I knew my feet were on the verge of freezing.
I had no proper hunting gear, and wore only thin socks and rubber boots.
Pete told me to build a fire, but I told him that I was afraid it would
scare the deer away. Pete proceeded to build me a nice fire and said,
Lad, Im going to give you something to warm you up.
I took a big swig of what he offered. It sure did warm me up, so much
so that I hardly knew what hit me. Petes remedy was pure rubbing
The drive that morning produced no deer. We ate lunchcheese sandwiches
toasted over the fireand drank coffee. Its odd how I can
remember that lunch way back then, when now I forget what I had for
lunch a couple of days ago.
The guys sat around the fire a while talking. I decided that Id
try my luck with rabbit hunting, and got five rabbits within a short
time. Since I had my limit, Dean sent me down a truck road about a quarter
of a mile away, where he said there was a good deer trail.
I ran down the road, found the deer trail and sat on an old rotten stump
to wait, hoping a deer would surface. The others had decided to abandon
deer hunting and try their luck with rabbits.
After sitting on my stump for awhile, I heard a shot pretty close to
where I was. Then I heard a different noise.
I looked, and within ten feet of me stood a great big buck, apparently
scared off by all the shooting. I could see the fear in the bucks
eyes. He didnt seem to know what to do. I was so scared that I
didnt know what to do either.
I held a 16-gauge, double-barrel shotgun, with a slug in one barrel
and buckshot in the other. Another shot rang out, again close to the
buck and me.
Finally, the deer decided that he had to do something. He proceeded
to jump right over me. My rotten stump fell over and I was on my back,
looking up at the white belly of the deer. My hunting instinct must
have taken over, because I pulled both barrels of my shotgun. I was
too terrified to move. About that time, Dean came out of the woods,
asked me what I was doing lying there on my back, then turned and saw
the buck lying dead beside me.
Lloyd, youve got yourself a 12-pointer, he said.
I was so thrilled that even being cold was forgotten. The guys congratulated
me over and over and Pete told me that his rubbing alcohol had brought
Ive never forgotten that experience. A memory of a lifetime was
made that November day, sixty years ago.
Im now seventy-four years old. I have decent hunting gear and
some of the comforts of life. I live in Gwinn and I have a hunting camp
about seventeen miles south.
Each year, my son, sons-in-law, grandsons and others gather for the
various hunting seasons. We sometimes even go out to camp just to escape
The walls of the camp are covered with mounted horns of deer that were
shot by family members and friends.
The horns are mementoes of many years of hunting, and mean a lot to
me and to my family. A fair number of the mounted horns represent my
Not one set of those horns stirs up a memory that comes even close to
the one I have of that day, so very long ago, when I was a poor fourteen-year-old
boy who bagged himself a twelve-point buck.