The Long Road Home
Daryl was out his pop - Will Dixon - hunting game. Sure as hell beat dealing with the drunk fool. Merle wasn't around. Cooking in the county jail he figured. He could always count on his older brother to get booked. Hell, he got roped into the crazy shit sometimes. Everything from drugs, violence, and even to belligerent drunken behavior. Merle was a shitty influence, and Daryl knew that. For all his faults, Merle always had his back though. His pop tried to steer him right, but the old man was just as broken. Ever since mom died Daryl reckoned.
Cradling his crossbow, Daryl moved through the forest slowly, just like his pop taught him. His old man could be a complete asshole at times, but the shit he passed on was worth its weight in gold. They were at Uncle Jess's cabin. Get away from the city or something like that. Daryl liked Uncle Jess. Crude with the words but practical. World needed more practical red necks instead of the insane ones. Merle definitely belonged in that camp.
"Been pretty quite boy." Daryl grunted as the trio kept moving, looking for a good buck to send either an arrow or some lead through. City folk never understood why hunter's hunt. It was a primal thing as it was natural. "Still bitter what I said about your brother? Ain't doing nothing good with his time, and he sure as hell ain't doing you any favors either."
"Drop it old man," Daryl said. He was tired hearing the same shit over and over. "Goin' to scare off the game. You ain't exactly speaking quiet."
"Why is it every time y'all come up, you Dixon's always finding something to bitch about?" Uncle Jess said as he cradled his rifle in his hands. "You know boy? Not wearing a hunter vest might get you killed one day. You hear about that PTSD soldier shooting a SEAL? Christ."
Daryl knew about it. Pretty messed up. Some veteran who came back from deployment helped out the soldiers back here who never really came back. Daryl wanted to enlist when he was younger, but the record would qualify him to be some kitchen servant. Just the image made him scoff the idea off. PTSD or whatever it was. It beat being chased by the uniforms and taking the chemicals down every other week or so. Fortunately, Daryl kept away from the hard stuff. He let Merle, and they're friend have free rein over that shit.
Hearing footsteps next to him, Daryl met his dad's stare. "What?"
"You handy with that bow?"
"Yeah. What you think I've been huntin' with? Rifle? Too much noise and too easy for my tastes. You learn to improvise after getting lost out here. Not that you'd know anything about that."
"Damn fool for getting lost in the first place."
Daryl was about to throw back a crude remark until he stopped in his tracks. He brought his fingers to his lips and pointed straight ahead. Quietly, he lowered himself slightly and crept forward as quickly yet cautiously as he dared. He felt the sweat from the sun roll down his forehead. He'd been out here stalking for too long to not get a single kill. The very thought of venison made him salivate. Cheapest food anyone could get - if you killed it yourself though.
A good distance away from the buck, Daryl marveled the size. It was a big one. Methodically bringing up his bow, he centered it right where the brain would be. A click came from behind him as he rolled his eyes. He wasn't about to miss. Slowing exhaling, the arrow from his cross soared towards the buck. A smug grin cross his face as he saw the animal go limp. No matter how big anything living was, knock out the brain and the kill was guaranteed.
"Well I'll be damned," Uncle Jess said as he followed Daryl to the deer. "We got a marksman right here! See that little brother?"
Quickly coming upon the buck, Daryl pulled out the arrow. The dumb beast was as dead as dead could be. It wasn't getting up anytime soon. "Uncle Jess, you think we can get that trailer back over here and haul the beast out?" Daryl asked as he prospected the horns and the fur. "No need to be wastin' a thing. I can take this back into town. Fetch a decent amount."
Uncle Jess stood above the corpse. "Yeah sure. We splittin' this thing, right?"
"Yup. Fur's mine though."
"Hard bargain. Come on little brother. Leave your kid out here to guard the spoils of war."
Daryl ignored the bickering as he heard the two men start to walk away. His pop and Uncle Jess always talked about the same shit over and over.
Standing up and looking around, Daryl's eyes narrowed ever so slightly as he saw an orange vest in the distance making its way over to him. Making sure he stood in the open, he kept his eyes trained on the stranger. Uncle Jess's words from earlier echoed in his head. That hunter over there better not mistake him for the buck. Getting shot wasn't on his daily to-do list.
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