The truth, the whole truth and nothing but

A short story by Bob Collins (Stumpy)

Frank had been staying with Stumpy for two weeks while he did a bit of hunting. Frank loved hunting. Even though he was getting a bit long in the tooth, past seventy, still loved the stalking, the walking, the bush, the mountains and the streams. He had hunted for a great many years with his mate and his nephew, Stumpy, but now this particular trip was over. He was on his way home.

He’d left stumpy a gift. On that last morning he’d been out early and found and shot a six-pointer stag at the stream crossing of an old horse track, about two hours walk from the road end. The stag, about one hundred and thirty pounds dressed weight, was far too heavy for him to carry out so he had gutted it, and tied it up over the stream with clothesline rope where it would quickly cool and be free from fly-strike.

Frank knew that Stumpy would easily find the hanging deer beside the old horse track. He walked out, told Stumpy of the deer, and headed for distant home.

Stumpy was delayed at work. It was Thursday, pay day, so he couldn’t get away until well after knock off time to go and find the deer. On reaching the road end darkness was about to fall but Stumpy knew he find the deer by torchlight.

A party of visiting hunters had arrived and set up a tent at the road end. They were astounded to see a bloke arrive to go hunting with only ten minutes of daylight remaining. They questioned Stumpy.

“Do you really reckon that you’ll get a deer?” “I know that I’ll get a deer.” Utter disbelief was obvious ‘What makes you think that?” Stumpy straight faced. “Because I have one tied up in there.” Laughter, and best wishes.

Pack on back, rifle on shoulder, Stumpy, entered the forest. When it became too dark he left his rifle leaning against a tree to be picked up on the way out, and carried on by torch light.

Three hours later at 10pm he staggered out of the forest at the road end, bent over with the load on his back, rifle in hand. The visiting hunters piled out of their sleeping bags on hearing Stumpy, to see if this intrepid local was as much a hunter as he reckoned. He couldn’t have shot a deer so late at night! No way:

When they saw Stumpy’s load they were struck just about wordless. They couldn’t believe their eyes. Then it all came flooding out. Hell these locals must be great hunters. Fancy shooting a stag just like that , so late at night. Gee he must be able to move in the bush, to get there, shoot a deer and then get it all the way back out, and it must have been a fair way, we didn’t even hear the shot, Travelling all that way by torchlight in this bush wilderness, and then finding the road end again, he must be a great bushman. They went on and on.

Stumpy stood there listening with tremendous modesty allowing all this to flow over him, basking in it. He was also a bit contemptuous of these learner hunters going on so, any bloody fool could see that the stag was as stiff as a board, the blood was all dry, that the stag had been dead all day, but these jokers hadn’t noticed that. They hadn’t shot many deer, that’s for sure!

Finally the sixty dollar question came up. “How did you do it, Mister? How could you get a deer under such conditions?” Stumpy was all modesty once more, he never cracked a smile. “I told you fellows before, I had him tied up in there.” More laughter, but hell, this bloke is close, he doesn’t give any of his secrets away at all.

Stumpy bid his good nights and drove off heading for home. All by himself. he giggled all the way, at times indulging in open laughter. He hadn’t told a single lie all night. All he had told them was that he had a deer tied up. Could he help it if those blokes couldn’t recognise the truth even when they were told it, twice!

Next week up in Auckland he would he that marvellous local hunter that the boys had met. Honest, truthful hunter Stumpy, that’s me, and wait till I tell old Frank the story, he’ll bust a gut laughing about the deer I had tied up.