I spotted him about 4:45 pm. He was tall, and looked in pretty good shape. He certainly towered over the others around him. He showed up where I hadn't been expecting him. I'd assumed he be further down the hill, further away from traffic.
In any case, there he was. Looking all proud of himself around the ladies. Some other dudes were nearby, but he clearly was being territorial, being alpha. From where I was, he didn't see me. Which was lucky, I suppose, because I wasn't trying extraordinarily hard to remain hidden. As he'd gotten in view I'd perked up from where I was hunkered down. Now I slowly reached down and lifted my rifle onto the shooting sticks I had lain in front of me. He still didn't see me. Unfortunate for him.
He was moving now, following 'his' girls. Didn't seem in a particular hurry. Arrogant. That'd cost him. Through the scope of my rifle I could clearly see his face. He kept nonchalantly looking over his shoulder at the other boys, seemingly to confirm they were being sufficiently submissive. We'll see if he finds hot lead submissive.
I'd been waiting for him, for quite some time. Most of the year I'd been planning when and where I would kill him. I dreamed about it. Thought about it. Even talked to my dad about it. I'd worked out a game plan. Chosen a place to kill him. Imagined walking up to his still body. Imagined standing over him, seeing that lifeless gaze in his eyes. Seeing the drips of blood coming off his chest from the bullet wound. Maybe I'd press on his chest, I daydreamed, and hear the shuddering wheeze of a destroyed thoracic cavity.
So there he was, standing there all proud and fearless, in my scope. I took off the safety and held my breath. The lack of a breathing rhythm froze the muscles in my chest, making the gun steadier. Also, by holding my breath, my heart rate dropped - making my aim even steadier. The cross-hairs rested right on his chest, just below the shoulder. The kill zone. I gently squeezed the trigger.
A muzzle flash filled the scope, and I blinked. Like always, I didn't feel the gun recoil at all. I watched him take off running. The girls he had been with scattered like quail. The other boys, elsewhere on the hillside, stood there trying to figure out what was happening for a moment, then took off running too. He stumbled and fell, got up and ran, then stumbled and crashed to the ground, spinning a half circle. He struggled a few times, there, on the ground...then lay still.
Even from 200 yards away, I heard his crashing fall. Even over the hammering of adrenaline-powered heartbeats in my ears. A surge of emotion went through me. I had just killed. I had just ended a life. The calm serenity of his life had been shattered by me, by the thoughtless energy of my rifle, and by the steady efficiency of my ability.
I loaded another cartridge into the chamber. Perhaps he'd rise again. Or perhaps I could kill another. A double kill seemed too much to hope for. My breathing slowed, I hadn't realized I had been gasping for breath. It had all been over in seconds. The hillside was empty now, save for me and the heap of flesh laying a ways in front of me.
Walking up to a dead body is always a weird experience. Will the body suddenly rise? Perhaps he's not dead; perhaps he's just gathering strength for a counter-attack. As is my nature, I don't keep a gun ready at those moments. If he had the strength left to fight back, it'd be just my physicality versus his. But he lay there, still. The only movement was the slight blowing of his hair in the wind. The only sound was my breath.
I stood over him. I saw, as I had imagined, the lifelessness in his eyes. He was gone. Gone forever. I had...I had murdered him.
What else can you call it? He was innocent, he had done me no harm. But I, well honestly, I delighted in his death. I was proud of it. I was looking forward to telling people about how I had killed him. How deadly accurate I was. How I had waited for the perfect shot. How I had taken him, right through the heart. I had known, from the distance, that he was a big boy. But up close, he seemed huge. I wondered how, out there alone, I would take care of his body. Loading it into the back of my truck was going to be a nightmare. Maybe I could just use ratchet straps; tie them around him, then just lash him to the tow hitch and drag him up to the barn. Hang him up in the barn and let the blood drip out of him.
I got out my knife. Best just field dress him right here. He'd be lighter, that would help. The crows and coyotes can have his entrails. As I split him from sternum to hips, his guts poured out. They were hot. Steamy and hot. The smell of them was strong, stronger than I had remembered since my last kill. I took care: if you are careful the whole abdominal cavity will just sort of pour out. Don't want to puncture the stomach...contents always reek. Cut the bottom end of the intestine to release it from the anus.
Then I cut through the diaphragm. Blood poured everywhere. Working blind, I reached up past his lungs and heart (I could tell his heart was in pieces) and cut his windpipe and esophagus. His lungs came out, and his heart sort of poured out. My shot had been good. He had been dead before he knew the bullet hit him. With that, the work was mostly done. I elevated his head and back, to let the majority of the free blood pour out onto the ground. Man, big boys like this can sure bleed. Then I began the onerous work of heaving him into the back of my pickup.
A half hour later he was hanging by his neck in the barn, blood lazily dripping onto a tarp below. I'd let him hang, and cool, for a couple days, then with dad's help I'd grind him up and put him in the freezer. We'd drag the bones and sinew down to the hedgerow for nature to clean up.
From a single shot fired on that hillside to hanging that deer in the barn had been less than an hour. The gruesome efficiency gave me a strange sense of satisfaction. I am an apex predator. I proved it.
Mental Health Break
34 minutes ago