The White Stag

The White Stag written by Estelle Rice

Mountain hunters from western nc

Pap was the best shot
in Cherokee County.
Kept his gun
spit and polished
on a rack
by the door.

Fed his folks
better’n anyone.
Never killed a creature
they couldn’t eat.
Said deer, bear,
and squirrel
were God’s gifts
to his hungry children.

Pap got old,
forgot many things
walked with a limp
saw more shadows
than light. But he swore
he was still the best hunter
within a hundred miles.

Early one morning
‘for his old wife
woke, Pap eased
out of bed,
dressed and took
his gun off the wall.
He trudged up the hill
‘spite the pain
gripping his chest.

He sat a spell
‘neath the oak tree
and waited.
‘Fore long he heard
crunching leaves.

Pap’s eyes cleared
better’n ever.
Then he saw
the white stag.
Blood dripping from wounds
on its side.

The stag and Pap
looked each other
straight in the eye
not as hunter
and prey
but as friends.

The stag pawed the earth.
Pap now free of pain
and put his gun
on the ground.


I hope you enjoyed Estelle’s poem as much as I do. It reminds me of my Papaw putting on a big trench coat he got from somewhere telling his grandsons he’d show them how to out smart the wild turkeys-but he didn’t. It also reminds me of James Evans-he’s the gentleman on the right in the photo at the top of this post.

The boy on the left is one of James’ sons and The Deer Hunter’s best friend-Eric. Although they don’t get to hang out together these days-as boys they were always together. They could usually be found in the woods hunting, fishing, and camping. Those were the things that made them happy. Each boy was taught a great love of the outdoors by their father.

About 20 years ago, James-like Pap in the poem-went into the woods. And like Pap in the poem his ticker gave out on him. He wasn’t hunting game that day-it was ginseng. But I still remember his family saying that’s how he would have wanted to go-hunting in the woods with his family.

I remember the honor and heartache of the ones who carried him out. I embrace and appreciate the memories Eric and The Deer Hunter have of times spent in the woods together; of times spent in the woods with each of their fathers; of the bond of hunting that continues today even though they live many miles apart.

Field to feast the Remington Cookbook by Jim Casada


Today’s giveaway has been generously donated by Jim Casada: Field to Feast the Remington Cookbook by Jim and Ann Casada. They drew on their years of hunting, cooking, and writing experiences while writing the book.

Be sure to jump over to Jim’s website and look around-you can check out his other books while you’re there-any of which would make an excellent Christmas gift. When you visit-don’t forget to sign up for his free monthly newsletter and be on the lookout for more giveaways of Jim’s books right here on the Blind Pig. Leave a comment on this post to be entered in the giveaway-which ends Sunday December 7, 2014.


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  • Reply
    Gary Powell
    December 6, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Sad poem. But I liked it. Spent a lot of time prowling the woods years ago. Now taking my 8 year old grandson as much as I can. I try to teach him to love the outdoors. He seems to really look forward to our outings.

  • Reply
    December 6, 2014 at 6:01 am

    Nice poem and nice picture that was a day to remember.. A nice deer.. Interesting my Mother’s last name was Evans..

  • Reply
    December 6, 2014 at 3:49 am

    Well, I’ve about given up on adding comments because they never seem to post anymore and it’s kind of disheartening. But I’ll try this one last time because I want to agree with you about Jim Casada’s newsletter. I enjoy every one.

  • Reply
    jose luis
    December 5, 2014 at 11:29 pm

    Dear Tipper:
    I already knew the story of the white deer, and is really very touching.
    It has always been said that he who has hunted wild animals, but has respected the life cycles of breeding, spawning, and did not kill just for the sake of killing, at the end of the journey on earth attitude be recognized.
    Hunting has always liked, and from young concurred with my friends, (from 7 years, with whom I still go to hunt wild boar and deer, with 70 springs), and with our fathers, so that here in Argentina called “hunting minor “, partridges, partridges topknot, ducks or rabbits.
    It was an entire ceremony, at night in the field, to peel or remove birds leather the jackrabbits, and leave them ready to prepare for moms, at home, number of bottles “Escabeche” boiling meat first, and then leave it in oil, vinegar, garlic salt, carrots, onions, and spices, as surely they prepare there in Appalachia, I do not know as you call.
    Times of joy to share with our elders a completely different life that normally live in a big city like Buenos Aires. That did at least 400 km to the areas of open countryside in the province of Buenos Aires, or surroundings.
    Now our parents are not with us, but with my two friends who are brothers, and I still go to La Pampa, (800Km), to hunt boar and deer, and if any puma(cougar), is killing cattle, we also try to hunt .
    Beautiful times left us by our parents and anecdotes and stories that remain to tell our grandchildren.
    Sorry so many words but serve to realize that hunting, parents and the family has a great relationship with the love of nature, and the creatures created by our Lord.
    From Argentina a strong and cordial greeting to friends of Appalachia, José Luis (The only Gaucho banjo player, hahaha!).
    God Bless you all.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    Wish our Dad could have gone in the woods; Lord, how he loved them. Instead, he went in the Alzheimer’s Unit of an institution. Still, it’s not for us to choose; God knows best and He calls when He deems it the right time.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    C. Ron Perry, Sr.
    December 5, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    That wouldn’t be James Lee Evans, born in 1951, would it?

  • Reply
    December 5, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    My dad and his brothers taught me to trap and shoot before I began school. I was in the first grade when I killed my first squirrel. Dad stood with his hands in his pockets giving instructions while I skinned and gutted it. We hunted and fished together until I was about 10. Then it became a competition to see who brought in the most meat. Anytime he got ahead of me I would stay out of school to catch up and get ahead.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    I can feel for The Deer Hunter’s
    memories, cause I got first hand
    knowledge of how our daddy taught
    us about hunting. And after working all day, he’d take us fishing just about every evening. Some of us
    mastered the technique of rolling flyhooks much farther than daddy.At the time I never though about the arthritus problems that was to come…Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 5, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    Estelle’s poem made me cry. I knew the end from very beginning. My tears were a mingling of sadness and joy. People should be allowed to die on their own terms, in their own homes or wherever they want to be.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Always look forward to your next post, and they are very varied I might add. There are always so many reminders of the “great generation.” My Dad, once the mighty hunter, mostly just polished his guns as he got older. He spent his later years feeding the wild animals, and always kept his dogs penned during the time when wild turkeys were with their young. Hunters and protectors of wildlife seem to dwell together very nicely in this area. I can’t fathom why there seems to be less tolerance of varied opinions and beliefs nowadays.

  • Reply
    Ken Ryan
    December 5, 2014 at 11:22 am

    I enjoyed the poem very much. My dad worked long hours as a truck driver, so it was my grandfather and uncle that taught me about the woods as a young’un. I will always remember.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    December 5, 2014 at 11:19 am

    I too have great memories of the time my Dad and I spent afield hunting and fishing. He passed in 1983 but I cherish our times spent trying to harvest game and fish for the family to eat. We deer hunted when there were very few deer in Swain County, he killed his first and only deer while recovering from Brain Surgery a couple of years before he passed away. I like to think this was a gift from the creator for all the futile hunts we had through the years.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2014 at 11:18 am

    That’s about as fine a way to leave the world as I’ve ever heard of!
    Put my name in the hat for the book, please?

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 5, 2014 at 11:08 am

    My Dad was in the woods too when his heart stopped. He was on a work crew camped at Hazel Creek in the GSMNP. They were building a bridge. His friends and coworkers knew CPR and managed to revive him. They brought him by boat back over to Fontana and then by ambulance on to Bryson City. He was in the hospital there from Tuesday until Saturday. Mommy went to see him on Saturday morning and heard the good news that he was going home the next day. She was on her way back home when they were stopped by the police and told they needed to go back to the hospital.
    Sometimes I wish Daddy’s friend hadn’t been able to resuscitate him. He loved the woods. He lived the woods. He would have preferred to die there too.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2014 at 9:36 am

    For some reason I can’t send you an email, so forgive the letter here, I received “The Cemetery Sleeper” Thursday. Thank you so much.
    I love reading your blog. It is so true to life as when I grew up. Also thanks for the chance to win more books, I love it.

  • Reply
    grandpa Ken
    December 5, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Tipper Great prize
    Merry Christmas to all!!!
    Grandpa Ken

  • Reply
    December 5, 2014 at 9:27 am

    My oldest grandson has never been in the woods with his father. His uncle and Papaw started taking him deer hunting when he was about six years old and stopped taking him a few years later. Now he spends his spare time hunting any game in season, building tree stands or just walking in the woods. I have four more grandsons who started hunting with their father at an early age. As they get older, they have no desire to go in the woods for any reason. It’s strange how the outdoors can get in the blood of some boys and not the others.

  • Reply
    eva nell wike, PhD
    December 5, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Well, brief posts are sometimes the best posts! ALL in the name of LOVE!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Kerry in GA
    December 5, 2014 at 9:09 am

    My Papaw LOVED the outdoors. Saying he loved hunting & fishing is an understatement. He probably spent more nights in a tent than under a roof during his lifetime, seriously. He was featured in a fishing article in the early 1950’s. We have a copy of the article. Granny said the guy who wrote the article sent them a copy of it & the pictures he used. Unfortunately, Granny can’t recall what magazine (or paper) it appeared in.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2014 at 9:06 am

    My Dad was a hunter that provided many different kinds of wild meat for his family of seven children and almost always others who were visiting. He truly enjoyed hunting and passed it on to two of his sons plus two of his grandsons. Personally, I never liked hunting but am a very supportive fan of those hunters who hunt for consumption and not just sport.
    Dad was also a fox hunter and it always amazed me that he and his fox hunting buddies ALWAYS knew the sound of their dog’s bark. Of course, there were times when they would banter about which one’s dog was leading the pack. So many happy memories are still my pleasure about Dad and his hunting and providing. Needless to say that my Mother was a big part of those memories in that she always was willing to prepare his kills after he had butchered and dressed them.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 5, 2014 at 8:46 am

    I also enjoyed the words written by Estelle Rice. I have heard of a white Stag before maybe it was in reference to death in the forest.
    I think hunting buddies usually stay the best of friends. They have each others back so to speak when in the wilds of the forest. There just seems to be more of a bond than other sport or lively hood.
    I may have to make one exception. That of my husband and friends. When his buddies plan, plot, email and text the dates and tee times for the open field hunt. You know the ones that carry the “chrome clubs” in their long black quivers that sit in the back of that little yellow cart!
    I enjoyed today’s post!
    Thanks Tipper, put me down for the chance to win the Remington book.

  • Reply
    Roy Pipes
    December 5, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Loved the poem – The White Stag. Are her book of poems available locally?

  • Reply
    Suzy J
    December 5, 2014 at 8:17 am

    Love starting my mornings with you! Thank you so much for sharing all the wonderful stories. They generally bring a smile and tears.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 5, 2014 at 8:05 am

    Beautiful tribute, Tipper, to fathers and sons, values and traditions, old friends and grief.
    I can feel it. Eric and the Deer Hunter were and are great friends.
    Friends are important in this life as is a good hunting rifle.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2014 at 7:59 am

    Jim, that is a wonderful gesture to give one of your precious books to Tipper for a give-away. Also, as I read the words to this poem, I could feel the desire to work hard and provide for family, his accepted responsibility. Remington Cookbook – appropriate name for the use of a hunting rifle.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    December 5, 2014 at 7:46 am

    Tipper–Arguably the most famous of all WNC outdoorsmen of the 20th century, legendary hunter and fly fisherman Mark Cathey, died in the woods while squirrel hunting. When a search party found him way into the night, he was seated at the base of a huge hickory with squirrels laying across one leg and his faithful dog nuzzling its head on the other one.
    He has as fine an epitaph as you’ll likely ever find (he’s buried in the cemetery on School House Hill in Bryson City). I may have shared it before but it’s short and worth sharing again if that’s the case.s
    Mark Cathey, beloved hunter and fisherman
    Was himself caught by the Gospel hook
    Just before the season closed for good.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    William Dotson
    December 5, 2014 at 7:29 am

    I love to hear the stories that you post especially the ones about the Dads and the Sons.

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