Lost Youth

A short story by Bob Collins (Stumpy)

The Scavenger had been quite a hunter in-his day. Stocky and powerful he had carried his share of heavy loads over the rough country. As he began to grow a bit long in the tooth, like all of us, he started to slow down. He found he could still shoot the game, but carrying loads got tougher and tougher. Though he recognised this increasing limitation of his physical abilities, he continued to live in the dreamworld of his youth;- if he could carry a hundred and forty pounds on his back ten years ago, he could do it now, or so he thought. But finally, he was forced to face reality, it happened this way.

On the Galatea faces just behind a cocky’s farm, he shot a whopping great Samber stag. To cash it in at the venison agency, he had to get the beast out in one piece, gutted, but with lungs, heart and liver still attached. From, where the deer lay to the Scavenger’s car and trailer parked at the cocky’s back boundary fence was only about four hundred yards but try as he did, he couldn’t lift the great weight onto his shoulders, nor could he drag it over the rough terrain alone.

The Scavenger would not be beaten! He swallowed his pride, and phoned up a couple of old cobbers. Snaggle tooth and Stumpy, to come and lend a hand. They both arrived at the farm together and located the Scavenger with his carcass fighting the flies away with an empty sack, becoming a bit shirty at the long delay at getting his beast to the chiller.

While waiting,the Scavenger had been scheming out the best way to move the load. He was quite convinced he could carry it, if only he could get it onto his shoulders with himself on his feet “Pikau” the bloody deer!” he reckoned to his mates, that is, bind left front; leg to left hind leg, and right front leg to right hind leg. Thus the deer would have its legs bound in such a way, they could be used as shoulder straps and the body carried as a shoulder pack, pretty routine practice for a normal sized deer. But, this one was big, they all agreed.

They set to work, bound the legs as planned, and set the beast upright with his tail on a mound of earth. The Scavenger squatted down between the two sets of bound legs, back to brisket, the great shoulders with the bloody and flapping neck of the headless beast towering above him. He positioned his mates one on each side of the carcass so they could give it a lift as he Scrambled to his feet* He thrust his arms through the armholes found by the bound legs, then gave the order.


It was then that things went wrong. Off balance the Scavenger never made it to his feet, in fact, his buttocks hardly left the ground. His two mates lifting manfully from each side only managed to slide the carcass up the Scavenger’s backbone until the gaping spit where the beast had been gutted was positioned immediately behind his head.

His head popped into the stomach cavity, his mates lost their grip on the carcass, which, as it slid gently back to earth forced the Scavenger’s head and shoulders up inside the rib cage, amongst all those wet, bloody, dripping lungs, heart and soggy dangling bits and pieces.

The Scavenger was cast flat on his back, his arms spread-eagled, imprisoned by a trap of his own making, his legs waving without effect in the air, his muffled shouts coming from the rib cage, were obscene, sexist, shocking and unprintable. His mates did not help by rolling around on the ground convulsed with laughter.

Finally, convinced by the bubbling noises and the decline in voice volume that the Scavenger was drowning in blood they cut the leg binding ropes, thus releasing the unfortunate fellow. He emerged into the light of day looking as though he had been scalped and in a most frightful bad temper.

It took the three of them four hours to drag the stag down to the trailer and when weighed it went three hundred and sixty pounds, which forced the Scavenger to agree, even in his prime, he never could have carried it out alone.