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.......................... Ravens Ridge.................


....... Jeb woke early, well before the alarm would sing its annoying tune. Quietly gathering his things he was careful not to wake the Mrs. Down the steps, eyes still not clear, Jeb is greeted by the wet nose of his best friend J.D. the old Lab senses the excitement in his master, however today he will remain at the farm. After a quick breakfast of greasy proportions, the old man grabs the '06 from the cabinet and opens the door to the cold winter air. Staring at the majestic mountain which dwarfs the small community below, Jeb can not help reminisce about the past.


....... It had been many long years since he had ventured to Ravens Ridge. The decades of mining had taken their toll on his once strong body. The long trek to the backside of the great mountain was just too much anymore. But this year Jeb felt obligated to return just one last time. It was Ravens ridge that had brought so many memories over his long hunting career. The old ridge top was a natural corridor for game of all sorts. It was on this very ridge that Junior had taken his first deer as well a his first turkey and numerous other trophies. Jeb taught his son the ways of the woods and water, leaving nothing to hide. By the age of sixteen Junior was quite the accomplished woodsman. He knew the mountain like the back of his hand and the movements of its many inhabitants as well. On his seventeenth birthday Junior was thrilled to receive a used Marlin model 336 in 35 Remington . Outfitted with a 4x weaver, Junior had it shooting like a dream in no time at all. Jeb more than happily passed on his preferred perch on the ridge to his only son. Jeb watched proudly as Junior collected several fine trophies from the distant ridge over the next few years.

........During the summer of ‘66 Junior followed in the family tradition of enlisting. Assigned to the Big Red One he quickly found himself pursuing a foreign quarry. The days turned to months and Junior fondly recalled his days on the ridge and looked forward to his return. Jeb promised that he would take good care of his mountain in hopes of his sons safe return.

....... Jeb awoke disoriented and amittingly a bit angry at the early morning knock on the old farmhouse door. Thinking it was broken down traveler, his heart sank at the sight of the two uniformed officers. The date was November 17th 1967.in the coming weeks Jeb and his wife went into a deep depression. Friends tried their best to console the couple to no avail. Hunting was the furthest thing from his mind. Over time Jeb came to grips with his tragedy and learned to cherish the memories he and his son had made. However he never ventured to the far ridge, and out of respect neither had anyone else.

....... Old Jeb pulled on the red and black plaid coat and headed out the backdoor. Across his small pasture and through the far gate he walked. He felt surprisingly good on this rather brisk morning, an unfamiliar spring in his step. Pausing often, he worked his way up the old logging road in the predawn darkness. He surveyed the valley below, its inhabitants still tucked into warm beds. The thin wisps of smoke rising from their chimneys, and yellowish lights marking each home. As he neared the top of the towering mountain Jeb veered off the trail to the right. Through the oaks he continued, hoping to beat daylights arrival. The sound of the mornings first freight train echoed from the tracks below. A sheer cliff above those tracks created the funnel that made Ravens Ridge such as special spot. The deer would never venture near the cliff when pushed up the mountain by the hunters coming from below. Choosing instead to skirt the ridge, heading for the safety of the hemlocks and laurel on the far side of the ridge. Jeb learned this pattern many years ago and hoped it would hold true just one last time.

...... As he neared the massive boulder overlooking the hillside, Jeb was overcome with a rush of emotion. Never one to show much emotion, he was glad he was alone as a single tear warmed his cheek. This had been such a magical destination for he and his son. Not much had changed over the years. The trees were a little bigger, and the laurel a little thicker. Around the backside of the boulder, the steps that he had chiseled in so many moons before, were filled with leaf litter. As he carefully clamored to his perch, the first hints of mornings arrival peeked through he trees. Jeb closed his eyes and awaited shooting light as thoughts of the past filled his mind. The quartet of young bucks he and Junior silently watched pass until they were well above the cliff below. The thunderous boom of the 35 Rem. As yet another perfect morning transpired. The group of long beards that walked directly into their ambush on yet another fine fall morning.

....... The first report from the valley below snapped him back to the present. Soon the crunching of frosty leaves announce that the exodus from below had begun! Several doe and two small bucks headed his direction, following the same trails as so many had before them. Jeb marveled at how traditions and habits are taught in the wild world as well as ours! He wondered how many generations of whitetails had used these same escape routes?

....... The flicker of movement caught the old hunters keen eye. The dark horned eight point cautiously moved up the hill. Jebs heart banged off his ribcage as the adrenaline kicked in. as he passed the big boulder, Jeb raised the ’06, and prepared for the impending shot. The buck continued his path as Jebs sights settled behind his massive shoulder. At the shot, the deer whirled and disappeared into the tangle below. Jeb strained to see into the laurel, trying to pinpoint the bucks path. He knew the shot was good and felt confident he trail would not be long. He gathered his things and prepared to descend from his lofty perch to claim his trophy.

....... When Jeb awoke, a stinging pain gripped his entire body. A stream of warm blood ran from his right ear, paddling in the leaves below. Struggling to his feet, he tried his best to gather his senses. He looked up at the rock and wondered aloud what had happened? Obviously, a misplaced step had sent him sprawling down the slippery, moss covered, side of the house-sized boulder. Jeb sat again and fumbled through his pack for his first aid kit. The situation was bad and he knew it! The pounding in his head, and sharp pain in his ribs were overwhelming to say the least. A sudden feeling of warmth came over him and quite frankly frightened him. Was this it? Was this how it would end? He found feeling sorry for his wife, how would she handle this? As the warming effect spread throughout his body Jeb felt a sense of calming. The pounding in his head quit and the pain of breathing soon subsided to a tolerable level. As if guided by an invisible hand, Jeb slowly made his way back to the logging road.

....... As he stumbled through the kitchen door, he knew things would be o.k. A hurried trip to the emergency room resulted in several stitches and an I.V. for fluids. Outside in the hall, Doc Brown assured Jebs wife that he was a lucky man. The concussion coupled with the cold temperatures could have made things much worse. Doc brown marveled at how he’d made it home with several broken ribs and a nasty gash on his head. Early the next morning he was sent home with orders to rest.

....... A few wellwishers stopped that evening and Mr. Davis and his son volunteered to head back up the mountain to retrieve Jebs gear. He told them where to find it as well as where to find his buck if they would be so kind. Early the next morning they quickly found the handsome eight point just outta sight from Jebs stand. As they made heir way back to the boulder, young Timmy Davis searched the ground for Jebs glasses. Near the base of the rock, a shimmer caught his eye. There, gleaming in the morning sun, was a single spent cartridge.

....... Jeb was elated with the sight of his trophy. Never had he taken such a magnificent trophy! The chocolate horned whitetail would have a permanent place on his wall. When Mr. Davis spread Jebs gear out on the table, the spent cartridge drew Jebs attention. He quickly snatched up the brass casing and read its stamped identification. Tears filled the old mans eyes. Although unable to explain it, he knew he was not alone on the Ridge that fateful day. He knew a familiar hand had guide him through the misfortune and helped him to get home. He looked back at the yellow case once more. Sure enough it was stamped 35 REM!!










BONZ
12-7-2008
 

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I have goosebumps all over my darned body right now.

Hands down one of the most moving stories I have ever read. I love reading these things, but this one is something else.

Bonz, the best yet. By far. You just keep getting better and better. I love this stuff man!!!

You have to try and get this published in PA Game News or something! Way to go. I loved every part of this. I had the whole mountain drawn in my head, and was just relaying the story in a movie type setting to myself. It was great.

I don't like to be demanding, as I know this stuff takes time, but I want another one!

One phenominal piece right there!!! Thank you so very much for sharing!!!
 
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