He had been rambling through the woods for more than an hour that afternoon enjoying places he’d not been before and the way the feathery snowflakes stuck to his face. He was young and vibrant, at the age when everything is filled with wonder and delight. He would often lose himself as he explored the woods near his home looking for new things to explore, and the woods were especially fun when it was snowing. He realized he was a little tired, so he stopped to rest under the cover of an evergreen tree. He’d never been this far from home and it gave him a sense of freedom and wonder that he’d not felt before. He knew his family would be anxious and it would be getting dark in another two hours. They had warned him about losing his way and having to spend the night alone in the woods. It could get brutally cold here and there was the danger of being attacked by night prowlers. He dropped that thought as he was sure he could find his way home long before dark, like he had many times before, by retracing his footprints in the snow. He’d been standing there for several minutes when he decided it was time to return home and the happy welcome of his family. Thoughts of them cheered him up, knowing in his heart they were the most loving and caring in the world. They had always put him above themselves, and he was as proud of them as they were of him.
When he turned around, ready to hurry home, his heart skipped a beat. He saw no footprints; they were gone, erased by the snow. He walked in the direction from which he had come, expecting he would eventually come to some familiar landscape, tree or bush. But after walking quite a distance through woods that were completely new to him, the terrible realization hit him: he was Lost! Since he didn’t know which direction was home, he decided to find a place where he might survive the night. He was certain his family would be out looking for him at first light and that gave him comfort. He soon spotted what looked like an ideal place about 100 yards away. It looked like a thick growth of bushes about his height near the trunk of an evergreen tree with low-hanging branches. He would be hidden from night prowlers, and the bushes and tree would protect him from the cold wind and snow.
As he walked toward the bushes, he noticed a movement – and he froze in his tracks. He convinced himself the movement was nothing more than the wind rippling the bushes and he walked on, anxious to get to the safety of the tree and bushes. He covered about half the distance – and froze in his tracks. A bright flash almost blinded, him and a stream of fire and a ring of smoke leaped out of the bushes toward him. He heard the crack of the rifle at the same time he felt a pain in his chest, more awful than anything he’d known before. His head spun through a world of flashing stars, he staggered forward as his legs buckled and he collapsed into a heap on the ground. He found relief in dumb forgetfulness.
“jack, Jack – come on; I got us one,” the hunter yelled as he came from behind the blind and ran toward his kill. “Moments later the two hunters stood admiring the buck on the ground, blood gushing from his chest. “Jack, that old smooth-bore rife done its job.” Yeah it did, and he looks to be about half grown”, Jack said, lighting a cigarette. “Ma will be mighty proud we got a young tender buck”, Jack’s brother said. “Yeah, we can come back tomorrow and get his ma and pa”, Jack said. “Now let’s get this young fellow home.”