The Black Cat's Death Meow
Halloween has changed from the days when I was a kid. Back then, we'd haul a pillowcase through the neighborhood and have it loaded with candy by about 8:00. Today, candy is too expensive to hand it out like, um, candy. And Halloween is risky, so parents put a lot of controls on what kids do.
Halloween came with risks 40 or 50 years ago too. You didn't really know what you might encounter. Black cats? Probably. Real witches? Maybe. Open graves on a shortcut through the cemetery? There was that one time.
Photo: We stumbled onto an open grave on Halloween night. (iStock photo, used by permission. Credit: crisserbug.)
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The Black Cat's Death Meow
Lots of big bucks are killed on Halloween night. Long ago I noticed the truth of it, and that helped me to quit Halloween.
It was the year after we dressed Randy’s cousin Icky in the 7-point buck for Halloween, and Randy’s mother told Randy’s aunt we would escort Icky around for tricking and treating. She figured putting us in charge of the little ghoul would keep us out of trouble. Icky was dressed up as a witch. His mom told us nobody would expect a boy to be dressed as a witch. A girl, yes, but not a boy.
As we started out, I told Randy, “Something about Halloween gets big bucks on the move, but black cats are the big problem. When a black cat crosses your path, it’s a sign something bad is going to happen. A black cat means there’s a witch around, which is why you get nervous.”
Wouldn’t you know it? Before we got to the first house of horrors in Icky’s neighborhood, here came someone dressed in a witch costume. No kid could be that creepy (except maybe my sister, and I knew it wasn’t her), so I knew the witch was an actual one disguised as a kid dressed up in a witch’s costume. Witches are clever that way. Then a black cat ran by, which confirmed my suspicion.
The cat stopped, looked at us, and meowed. “Uh-oh,” I said. “If a black cat meows at you on Halloween, you’re going to encounter death. It’s a netherworld guarantee.” But I wasn’t worried because Halloween came on a Monday that year. I figured we could deal with a little death because, on Sunday, Randy had gone to church and his righteousness usually doesn't rub off until later in the week.
The witch was in front of us, and I figured as long as she stayed there, I could keep an eye on her. Plus, there were plenty of other kids she could put hexes on.
A few front porches later Randy said, “Let’s cut through here to the next neighborhood.” Randy’s shortcut went through a cemetery. Suddenly, we stood beside a freshly dug grave.
“Where’s Icky?” I whispered to Randy.
“I think he fell into this crypt.”
“What’s a crypt?” I asked.
“Don't get scared, but it’s the word they use for a grave in scary movies. Hurry up—shove that shovel down there so Icky can grab it and we’ll pull him out.”
I was getting shivery, not because I was standing in the dark beside an open grave on Halloween, but because the air suddenly got cold. I poked the shovel into the crypt, and either it hit somebody freshly dead, or I had killed Icky. Apparently, Randy’s righteousness had already rubbed off, and it didn’t rub off on me.
From behind us we heard, “What’s going on, boys?” In game warden school they teach perfect timing.
“Um. Icky fell into this crypt," I said. "I hope he’s still alive ’cause we’re trying to lift him out.”
“Let’s take a look.” The warden shined his big tactical flashlight into the grave, and there was something covered by a tarp. Instead of Icky, it was the giant buck that lived on Mr. Sidebottom’s farm—a big 10-point—and it was doornail dead.
That’s when we heard a little boy’s voice over in the woods. “Lemme go! You’re not Randy!”
It turned out that in the dark we had stumbled onto a crime scene, and almost into it. The local poachers had just covered the buck with a tarp and were ready to shovel dirt on it. Their plan was to come back a few nights later after the heat was off them, dig up the buck, cut off the antlers, and do their bragging then.
Then we came along, and they hid. In the dark Icky, thinking the poachers were Randy and me taking a shortcut to the next neighborhood, followed them into the woods. Icky had them dead to rights.
I decided then that it’s better to avoid evil things like witches, and I vowed never to think about evil again. That part hasn’t always worked out very well, but I figured I was better off going hunting on Halloween anyway. The big buck from Mr. Sidebottom's farm proves to me that Halloween is the best day to kill a big buck—and I am willing to tolerate the death meow of a black cat on my way to the woods, because it makes my odds of killing a buck go way up.
When “The Everyday Hunter” isn’t hunting, he’s thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell Steve exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him through his website, www.EverydayHunter.com.