Reverse Hunting

Brothers Chet and Irving Higgins, along with Harry Hunt and Lester Young, went deer hunting up in East Orleans. Their method was to start out in the woods, spread out left and right and, walking abreast, attempt to drive any available deer toward Pleasant Bay, thinking it would be easy to bag one or two down on the shore, resulting in some venison for the winter.

As planned, but unbelievable as well, because the plan had never worked before, there was a good-sized buck caught between them and the water. They were about to shoot when the deer took the logical path by jumping into the water and swimming for one of the nearby islands, leaving the bewildered hunters on the shore.

As coincidence goes, just a short distance away, Earl Chase had left his brand new wooden skiff, with its shiny brand new outboard, up on the shore, and had waded out in the water to scratch for quahogs. Of course, because of the shouting, Earl had seen what was going on. So, when Chet yelled to him from the shore that they wanted to borrow his boat, Earl waved, with some trepidation, the sign of approval.

Off they went, buzzing along, gaining all the time on the deer as he swam for safety. They caught up with him about mid way. It suddenly came to them, however, that though they were right beside the deer, and the deer didn’t have a chance, they faced the problem of what to do. They didn’t want to shoot the deer in the head, as it had about 8 points in its rack, quite a nice trophy for someone’s fireplace wall. Harry Hunt came up with the only really workable plan: “Let’s drown him!” With that, Harry reached down between the antlers and held the deer’s head at arm’s length down under the water.

After an “appropriate” amount of time, the deer ceased to struggle, so, of course, they pulled him aboard and stretched him out lengthwise under the middle seat and, with a smile of satisfaction, turned toward shore, much to the relief of Earl Chase.

Not much time went by when the deer woke up and decided to get up! In one powerful push from all fours the deer broke the middle seat in half, spilling the two Higgins boys into the wintry water, high boots, guns, and all. Rear-seated Lester Young tried to get the deer under control by grabbing him by the tail, but all he got was a good hoof-shot in the mouth, sending him to join the Higgins boys in the big aquarium.

That left Harry Hunt up in the bow, face to face with a very unhappy buck deer. Undaunted, true to character and fearless, Harry drew his hunting knife and offered battle. The deer made very short work of that invitation. He charged Harry and butted him into the cool briny along with the others, bringing his average to four-for-four!

s the events unfolded, Earl Chase’s expression changed from a look of some amusement to one of helpless desperation as he watched his new boat and motor heading out into deeper waters, that deer standing as if at the helm and with an apparent look of satisfaction. We don’t know what the “hunters” said to Earl when they reached shore, but we can guess at some of the words that Earl used in his expression of displeasure.

Though aJI that comes before in this story is a well-known account of actual events that took place, I cannot hqnestly say, being a trustworthy and highly respected raconteur of local folklore, that the following is true or not, but there are those who swear that on the anniversary of that fateful day, around dusk, you can see what seems to be the silhouette of that boat as it goes through the Narrows with that deer standing tall as if passing in proud review.

Sam Sherman

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