The Rifleman
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The Rifleman's Serenade
 Chapter 2 - The Hunt
Written by Frank Charles aka weinerdawgy

Vanessa and the ladies were busy cooking a huge supper in the lodge while Sam and some of the men talked over business at the bar. Steaks were ready to grill as soon as the fence crew got back from the range. The lodge was proving to be one grand idea. It gave the entire operation a family atmosphere and made it easy to share the meals. Some of the men had families to go home to and on occasion brought them to the lodge for supper. Since before the wedding there were a number of guests and it was easier to continue having group meals at the lodge. Vanessa looked forward to a time though when things would settle down and she could concentrate on her own household.

It was starting to get dark, Sam put most of the steaks on the grill and held some to the side for Lucas and the bunch upon their arrival. Vanessa came out to join him as the sweet smell of sizzling beef surrounded them.

“I had forgotten just how good the smell of grilling meat was Sam. I’m so glad to be back here with you. All of this time away has dulled my senses. I’m so sorry.”

“Not to worry my dear. I like to think we both needed time to sort things out. Now we can get along without you missing your family so much and I have a new appreciation for having you here with me.” Sam put his arm around her and kissed her on the cheek.

“I’m looking forward to the time when we can relax and enjoy some alone time. Does the excitement ever end around here?”

“Only in the evenings I’m afraid. There’s much to do right now. The guests are set to be here a while longer I reckon. Lucas says he may ask them to stay for another wedding.”

“Yes, I understand that. I suppose once that is over with, things can settle down.”

“I hope you realize that the partnership was my idea at first and that it has been a great thing for all of us to spend time together.”

“Of course dear, I understand. It’s just new to me. I like it this way for your sake. It’s good to see you so enthused over your work and friends. And Ann seems so happy. Will is just what she needed. Maybe they can be more comfortable in the log house soon.”

“The original idea was for Lucas and me to be able to sneak off and hide there, but things have changed a great deal since then. Lucas stands to do a lot of traveling with Masterson and the ladies will no doubt go with them. We haven’t talked about what Lucas wants to do once he comes back from that. His ranch house will be a better place most of the time. The lodge can house guests after that I suppose. We can even build another house in the future. We do have plenty of room.”

“I guess it’s just the impatient mother syndrome coming out. Don’t worry about a thing Sam. I feel better just talking about it. Promise me we’ll always be able to talk.”

“I promise Vanessa. And I’m sorry if I sometimes get lost in my work. It was that way before. I let you slip away and I don’t blame you for going home. I hope it did you good. As you can see, Ann and I have done well here. Lucas and Mark kept us company.”

“I was so worried that Ann was going to be an old maid. We can’t always understand what makes children do what they do. I can see now that her waiting for Will was a good thing. That story about Jack is troubling though. Does your taking Walt on as a partner mean Jack will be coming back here?”

“At this point, I won’t encourage it. Walt can keep him to his own place if that should be the case. He still has to survive prison before he can think about coming home. Walt isn’t pleased with him to say the least. After what happened in the shoot out, I don’t reckon Jack will be coming anywhere near Ann ever again!”

“My little girl, she has sure grown up. Speaking of the darlings, I think I see them riding up. We should have the meal ready, better put their steaks on.”

Sam started placing the meat that was grilling to the side in order to put the rest of the steaks over the fire. Before he knew it, a host of hungry ranchers were upon him and eager to join the feast.

Talk of a hunting trip dominated as the evening wore on. Sam wished he could join them, but he knew it was better to stay home with his nesting wife at this point. Ruth, Sarah, and Emma would need the company anyhow. The rest of the clan decided that they would take off on Monday morning and hoped to return by Thursday. The weekend would be spent making preparations. Once that was settled, Lucas asked Aubrey to stand with him as he made the official announcement.

“As all of you know, this ranch girl and I intend to marry. I have asked everyone if they could stay if we were able to decide within a reasonable time.” Lucas looked at Aubrey with wide eyes and she all but melted in his arms. “Aubrey Canton, I’m going to ask you once again before everyone here, will you marry me?”

“Yes! Lucas, Yes! I feel so much a part of this wonderful family. I know we are ready.” Aubrey looked over at Mark, who was all smiles. “Are you ready……Son?”

“Ready! Ma! Pa! Oh that sounds so good! Yes, I’m ready for my Pa to be happy!”

“Alright then, I have to alert my Daniel and his family, perhaps a few friends in Santa Fe, but I’m sure we can do this soon. They know to be expecting an announcement. And maybe some of you can come join us in a grand Santa Fe style party one day too.” Aubrey kicked up her heals almost like Annie Oakley would do.

Alright then, we’ll see about having the wedding in three to four weeks from now. We have this hunt and a target shoot to deal with. I hope it can all work together to be as great a time as the last wedding. We’ll know more in a few days before we take off on the hunt.” Lucas grabbed Mark and hugged him close to Aubrey as everyone cheered and drank a toast.

The hunting trip was to be a short one. Most times in the past, Lucas and Mark went alone and stayed out for weeks at a time. Stocking meat for the winter or hard times was usually the purpose. This time was more of a social event to get out in the country and have everyone together. If they did mange to find some deer, all the better, but Lucas knew the chances would be slim. Most of the animals were in the high country this time of year where the vegetation was not so dry. Animals that wondered downhill usually wound up eaten by a cougar.

Thoughts of a long ago incident over a cougar came to Lucas as they made their way into the hills. He had a habit of keeping a look out for signs of cats as well as rattle snakes. Never again would he be caught off guard by such dangers. Mark knew this was on his father’s mind. When he was younger he was almost attacked from behind by a cougar as he was waiting for his Pa along a trail. Lucas fired and missed causing the cat to run off, but it was a close call. Ever since then, all they had to do was look at each other and nod. The message was loud and clear. Keep a keen eye out at all times. Lucas was confident about his aim these days after so much target practice and his proven rifles. The danger was unlikely with so many in the group and the cougars would also be in the higher hunting grounds.

Aubrey and Ann were in the buckboard while the men rode fresh young horses. It was hot and not wise to take the older horses on such a grueling ride. With this many along, water was a very important thing to keep an eye on. Lucas knew not to lead them into any difficult terrain with the wagon loaded with supplies, so they decided to set up camp in a lower spot and then take the horses further into the hills later. This was also a safety factor, if there were to be an emergency they would need to get back to town quickly. It took most of the first day to ride out and set up camp. Once they were settled, Lucas and Bat decided to take a scout ride up the nearby hill and look over to the next ridge.

“I’ve got something to show you Bat, when we get up to the top in a few minutes there is a spot where we can see all over. Mark and I would camp up there many times. There should be enough light left for us to see a great distance.”

“I can’t get over how rugged the terrain is. Reminds me of places in Arizona, hot and dry! Do you know of any water holes? That is where we’ll find a deer I’d wager”

“Lucas nodded yes and motioned ahead to a clearing. “The break in those trees ahead is not far from where I’m taking you and there is a spring. Sometimes it’s still running in the summer. Let’s slow down and be alert, never know when something might be there.”

Sure enough, Lucas saw a young mule deer buck taking a drink. Bat was amazed. They came to a stop and dismounted, taking their rifles out quietly. The slight breeze was blowing in their direction and the buck suspected nothing. Lucas nudged Bat encouraging him to take a shot. They edged just a bit closer and Bat took aim. The shot rang out and the buck was hit. He bounded off into some brush with Lucas running up to see if he could tell where. Bat came along and they thrashed their way into the cover looking for signs of blood. It crossed Lucas’ mind that if there were any cougars around this is when they should be most careful. Then he heard a shout from Bat, he found the buck down among some rocks still kicking his hind legs. They got closer and finished off the deed.

“What do you know Lucas! Thanks for giving me first shot!”

“My pleasure Bat. Looks like we’re eating good tonight. I didn’t expect this. You can have the honors of the first dress too!”

Bat whipped out his trusty knife and went to work cleaning the buck and getting it ready to haul back to camp. Lucas went to bring the horses closer and tied them off. He looked out to keep watch while Bat was bent over dealing with the entrails. The sun was getting low and he knew they should work fast. He got out his rope and helped Bat tie the feet together to make it easier to drag up to the trail. They hoisted the carcass onto the back of Bat’s horse and off they rode.

“Never did get to look around Lucas!”

“Guess we can try that again in the morning. That was some stroke of luck. I wonder what they’re thinking back at camp? They must have heard the shots.”

“I think they will have a fire going and I hope the boys will be ready to skin this guy!”

“I know Will and Dillon will wish they had come along now! I just wanted us to have a quick look up there and maybe talk a spell.”

“Was there something you wanted to say to me? Anything wrong?”

“Oh no, just wanted to know if you and Emma are comfortable and if my wedding fits well into your plans. I know you must be itching to get back on the road.”

“Not at all Lucas, we have plenty of time and when the fall comes, maybe we can take our show on to Denver with Emma for a good start. Would you and Aubrey enjoy a honeymoon in Denver?”

“That sounds very interesting indeed. I’ll bring it up to her soon. I know that she may want to do something in Santa Fe, but maybe that can happen before we leave for Denver.”

“I figure to be heading north by September, before the snow storms get bad. Emma is set to perform near the end of the month at the Palace Theater. It will be grand my friend. We have plenty of time for everything. Santa Fe is not so far.”

“Good, no hurries then. July promises to be a busy month though. I’m glad for the partnership with Sam. He’s willing to oversee things when I’m gone. This gives Will and Ann time to travel also. I hope my wedding fits into their schedule. Will seems to think that it will. But Ann has a great deal to do for her riding competitions. They need to go to Dallas as well. I want to do things so everyone is thought of.”

“I can understand your concerns Lucas. Think no more of it as far as Emma and I go. She loves this entire visit and is starting to feel quite at home.”

“I’m glad Bat. I can see the relaxed look in her face. And when is the last time you stayed this long on a ranch, or anywhere else for that matter?”

“I really can’t tell ya, probably in Denver well over a year ago. And many years since I’ve been a regular on a ranch. I took jobs as trail boss most of the time. We probably crossed paths in the old days.”

“I know we have. We were both driving cattle in the same years. There had to be a time between Fort Worth and Kansas City. And I spent some times in Denver too. I guess we were both handy with a rifle back then. Only yours’ was a Sharpe’s.”

The secret of my success with the buffalo. I know you don’t like what happened back then. But it was my profession, me and a host of others. I’m not proud of the results, but all we can do is try to make it up to the Indian somehow. Hunting and driving cattle have fed a nation, but it also brought one down.”

“I understand Bat. We all took part somehow. I’ve eaten plenty of buffalo. It’s very good when cooked right. For now, I’m looking forward to a piece of the backstrap from this deer!”

“Ah, my favorite part too. I can see the fire up ahead. Sure am hungry now. We better help them skin this one.

It was planned to have ham for supper and the preparations were underway. But once the gunshot was heard, hopes were up for a venison treat. The sun was just setting as the first sections of meat hit the fire. The ham would be good anytime. The home smoked pork was a popular staple on the McCain ranch. Mark thought back about chasing pigs and slopping the huge hogs. This summer on the ranch was really working on him as he contemplated returning to school.

“Reckon ya don’t miss doing your homework in camp, do ya son?” Lucas smiled as he bit into his roast.

“Did ya have to remind me Pa? I’m already thinkin’ on that!

“Sorry son. I’m glad you’re here and able to enjoy some freedom.”

“Sure is peaceful. I guess this buck didn’t even hear ya coming.

“It was a perfect moment with the breeze coming our way off the hilltop. He had no idea what hit him.”

“And a perfect size and age, meat’s real tender. I think we’ll eat most all of it tonight.”

“Looks that way. This is so good. I hope to get my fill. There won’t be much chance of this on the road after the wedding. The only break I got from beef and pork was the Codfish in New York.”

“What is that like Pa. Anything like trout?”

“I have never eaten anything like it. The meat is so tender and melts in your mouth. Trout is heavier tasting, most freshwater fish are I reckon.”

“Hard to imagine something that big being tender. I sure hope we can go there together someday”

“We’ll sure try son. Maybe your schoolwork can take you in that direction in the coming years.”

“Could be, the best schools are back east. It does cross my mind. But so does staying near this ranch. I miss it so Pa.”

“And I miss you too. I was away for long times also. It’s not easy, never was. At least now we know it’s in good hands while we’re away.”

“I know, and it will still be here when we’re ready. But the years are mostly still ahead of us. I remember when all we thought of was my growing up so I could work alongside ya. Now we’re both leaving for new pastures. Even New York would not be too far away for me to come back here in the summer.”

“It was a long way son. Even Fort Worth is a long way. Things will change as time goes by. What happens if you go off and get elected President or some such thing?”

“Don’t go saying that now Pa! I’m looking to become something that I can come back home to do.”

“I don’t blame ya for that boy, just never sell yourself short. Things will always be here for us.”

Will had been quiet up to this point. “That’s right Mark. You keep your goals set high. The ranch will never go away. And if you find the right thing to come home with, all the better. I never dreamed of being where I am right now. I have everyone here to thank for that. A year from now, you may very well find yourself in an entirely different place than what you think presently.”

“I know that can be true. I’m just starting out on this path of higher education. History does show that things can change fast. What happens if we have another big war?”

“I don’t see that happening any time soon son. We’re still smarting from the last one!”

“I think the thing we have to worry about most is something happening in a foreign land, something that forces America to respond. I don’t know what that can be, but it’s bound to happen one day.” Bat added. “We are learning to communicate further and faster all the time. Trains are changing even the most remote places now. I say America will be well off for a long time. You will find a prosperous career young man. Do not limit yourself to what we know as a settled life right now. Not by any means!”

“Yes sir Bat! I realize you guys know what you’re talking about. I’m just homesick when I’m away. It’ll grow out of me as time goes on I have to reckon. But ya’ll ain’t getting’ rid of me that easy!”

“Mark, you’re getting the best of both worlds!” Dillon added. “And we’re darn glad to be able to give it to you. Before you’re through learnin’, you’ll be missing Oklahoma too!”

“You’re right Uncle Dillon. I must say that I’m sprouting some roots there also. I was too young when we left before. Sure is a luxury to have all of these places to ponder on, huh Pa?”

“When I was your age, I had no idea what the future held in store. And I may not have wanted to go if I had. But times are certainly different for you now. I’m no fortune teller, but I predict great things from you. The challenge is for you to expect great things from yourself.”

“Well put Lucas, here, here!” Bat exclaimed. Where we have been soldiers of fortune in our day Mark, you shall be the soldier of the future. Look beyond what you know of today. Many times I look at what others are doing and wish I had taken higher roads. Maybe I could have been President!” Bat rapped his cane on the ground and laughed heartily.”

“And I could have been a General and a Senator!” Lucas chuckled.

“That’s no joke Lucas! You could have written your own ticket if you were of a mind. You’re just as good as that to the folks around here.” Will couldn’t help making this comment.

“Thank you Will. I’m honored to be thought well of in my home town. I’ve been asked to run for office, but as with so many other opportunities, I didn’t want to do something that would take me way from Mark. Maybe I have to look further into the future for some of those possibilities in my later life. It’s the same for all of us. When we hear a calling, we are either ready to answer or we’re not. My calling was to be a good father first.”

“We can all see that Pa. You have nothing to regret. I’ll make ya proud!”

“Keep that promise son. I’m countin’ on ya!”

They got on the move early in the morning. No breakfast, they ate jerky on the trail. Everybody came along and had a rifle. After a brief lookout at the hilltop spring, it was decided that Will and Dillon would take the boys down the hill ahead of the rest and they would work their way across the far hillside on a scout and flush. Lucas, Bat, and the ladies would follow quietly a few hundred yards behind looking for any deer that would bolt into the open. They knew to be cautious and keep a keen eye out for the flushers if they had a shot. Bright colored shirts were worn by all. Dillon explained that it was important to look for signs and be quiet to start. If they saw something promising they could then turn to making some noise to hopefully get a deer to run forward from their position. It was not easy to show their position because of the trees and heavy brush. It was crucial to stay close to where they told the others they would be to avoid being shot at. This is why the most experienced shooters went first as the follow up party. Although it was hot, water was running in the creek and there was plenty of shade as they worked their way through the trees. It was most likely they would come across a muley buck in this region. The does and fawns usually stayed in the cooler high country on towards Colorado until the fall. This was not a great time to be looking for deer, but adding a little game to the meat supply would be a help. Just getting to see the hills was the main objective. It was most likely that they would flush an unsuspecting buck early but even the shots ringing out last evening may have scared any others away. The teams worked several hillsides with no luck. The afternoon sun was starting to get to them and the horses had just about enough energy to get back to camp. The ham was starting to look good by the time they arrived. Lucas had another location figured for tomorrow. For tonight, it was going to be some sippin’ whiskey and relaxing by the fire.

The sun was bearing down early as the hunters made their way to the west and into the higher country along the mountain range. Lucas knew that if they were going to find any deer it would have to be in these parts. The trails were rough and the terrain rocky. The trees and brush were not as thick and water wasn’t as easy to find. Once they did come upon a water fall and creek they decided to break up into the same two teams and take opposite sides of the creek. They agreed that nobody could fire across the water. The lead on each side would stay in view as best they could so neither team would get far ahead of the other. It was slow going, uphill most of the time. It was hard to be quiet as there were many twigs and rocks to step on. Halfway through the day the boys wanted to go ahead with Will and Dillon. Maybe they could flush a deer downhill towards the others. Lucas told them they would have to be very careful and that only he or Bat would take a shot if they thought there was any chance at a kill. Aubrey and Ann stayed behind on the trail in case a deer got by them and to stay close to the horses.

The heat was not so bad but the uphill hike was taking its toll. They weren’t out to set any records and they wanted to get back to camp before sundown. Lucas was about to whistle to let the boys know it was time to head back when he heard a whistle from above. A buck had been flushed and was coming his way. He waved to Bat and then heard the buck as he was getting close. Lucas tried to get a shot off but he was late and held off. Bat was next in line and fired, just missing. As the buck ran downhill another shot was fired. Ann got the hit! With Aubrey they rushed over to find the large beast dead from a head shot. Lucas and Bat came running down to meet them and eased up as they saw the prize. Lucas let out with a loud whistle, three times which meant there was a kill. Then he whistled twice to tell them to come back. Before a reply to the whistle could be heard there was a flurry of gunfire! Five shots at first, then two more. Three whistles followed and Lucas knew they had met with success again.

“Looks like we have some work ahead of us before we can go home. It will start to get dark in a couple of hours and I want us to get back downhill before it gets too cold.”

“Right you are Lucas.” Bat replied. “I’ll stay here with the girls and dress this one. You go uphill and see what happened. They’ll need more help. I think we can get this one down to the horses on our own if we have to.”

“I’ll come back before then and let you know what’s going on. Nice shootin’ there girls. This muley was coming downhill fast!”

“Ann got him quick and clean!” Aubrey added

“Aw thanks guys, all in a day’s work for this cowgirl! Bat, let me see that knife.” Ann went to dressing the buck. Aubrey brought out her folding knife and gave her a hand.

“Ok Bat, I reckon we have at least one more. That was quite a few shots we heard from above. Lucas took off uphill, following the creek. He let out another whistle and got one back in reply.

Mark was beyond excited as he came upon his big buck. Will came along with him to survey the scene. Meanwhile, Dillon and his boys tracked down a third buck that made it further uphill before it fell. Mark heard Lucas approaching and couldn’t hold back any further.

“Pa, Pa! Look here, I got one! There must have been five of them all together. We managed to spook the first one down towards you and then we saw the others! It was amazing! Just look at him Pa!”

“He’s huge! Great hunting son! Ann shot the one coming our way. He was moving too fast for Bat or me to get a good shot off. They’re dressing him and waiting for us. Better get to work dressing this one. We have a lot of work to get these big boys downhill before dark.”

“It will be a struggle to get over some of these rocks. I bet they’ll need more help than us up ahead.” Will added

“I’ll go see what they’re up to and give them a hand if needed. If I’m not back in less than half an hour, one of you go see how Bat and the girls are doing. We’ll probably need some more rope from the horses while you’re at it. I’ll whistle when I get to them. I’m impressed son, you bagged a good sized muley there!”

“Thanks Pa. We’re gonna bring home a mess of venison now!”

“Sure are, it took all day, but it paid off. We have this water in the creek to thank for them being here. Good fortune to say the least! Have at it boys…. I’ll get back as soon as I can.” Lucas hiked uphill further sending out another whistle and getting one back from ahead. He was getting a bit concerned for being able to bring these bucks down off the hill in time to make it back to camp.

Lucas came upon Dillon dressing a third buck with the boys standing watch. “Well, well, what have we here?”

“Hey Lucas! I’m trying to get this one taken care of quick. I know we don’t have much time. What a stroke of luck, huh!”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen three bucks taken at once like this. I hope we can get them over the rocks below. I better let the others know we’re alright.” Lucas let out two very loud whistles. Will gave him two in return and then Bat did the same. “I reckon we’ll need some rope and a few things from the horses below. Perhaps I better go back and see that we have what we need. You’ll be a while with this. Maybe you guys can get him downhill a bit before I get back. This is a great day men!”

“Sure is Uncle Lucas. Dad hit this one with two shots, right after Mark got his. We were hiking along thinking the day was coming to an end when all of a sudden we surprised this group of five or so bucks. They bolted in several directions and we got two! We heard shots from below, what happened there?” Kyle was very enthusiastic about what was going on.

“Ann shot one coming down hill. We have three bucks in all, which means we have to work fast and get them downhill before sundown. You boys keep a sharp lookout for cougars or a bear while your father gets the buck ready. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

“Thanks Lucas, we’ll have him down to at least the rocks when you get back.” Dillon replied.

Lucas stopped to let Will and Mark know he was going for more rope and to maybe find a few branches to use in carrying the bucks. He told them to stay together and watch for cougars or bears. When he got down to Bat and the ladies they had already began dragging their buck with the one rope they had with them. He joined in and helped them get the buck to the horses. Lucas told Bat that he would be needed to help bring the other two bucks down. On the way up they selected two straight branches that looked strong enough to carry a carcass. They left one with Will and Mark and then met with Dillon and the boys near some big rocks. They could drag it no further. Once the feet were tied together the branch gave them the leverage they needed to heft the animal down and get him to where Will and Mark had managed to carry their buck to a point where the rocks made it too difficult to continue. Kyle and Andrew were told to join the ladies at the horses and let them finish carrying the bucks down the hill. This turned out to be a good idea because they dropped the first buck when they tried to get it down a ledge that dropped off just a little too far. The buck slid a distance down the hillside leaving Lucas and Dillon falling backwards in the process. The second buck was supported carefully with more rope and three men in front to keep a steadier hold down the ledge. It was best that the boys weren’t there to possibly get hurt.

It took more time than they wanted, but eventually they managed to get down the hill. They took a brief rest before lifting the bucks onto the horses. Each horse with a buck tied on also had to carry one of the boys and Ann rode with the third. They went slow as the horses had quite a burden. In the rough spots they walked the horses until they reached easier terrain. Lucas was concerned as the light was fading fast. They had no way to make light and they would not be able to see well enough to continue once the darkness took hold. The only thing they could do was to make a primitive camp and stay by the fire until morning. They had several blankets, but they had left without bedrolls or any utensils.

“I think we have a little too far to go before dark guys, there’s still some rough trail before we could get back to camp. What do you say we stop soon and make a small camp for the night?”

“Two of us could go back and get some supplies from the wagon.” Bat offered.

“That’s not a bad idea. We could use the bedrolls and a few things to cook some meat. Why don’t you and Dillon do that and we will start a fire close to the trail.” Lucas got down and looked the ground over and made sure they could gather firewood. “This is good as anyplace I reckon. You two take off, there’s not much light left. Make yourself a torch or two if you can.”

Bat and Dillon took off at a fast pace while the others made ready for a good sized fire. This was all part of the adventure and what better time than now to rough it? Before long, spots were made ready to place bedrolls and rocks were placed to fashion a pit. Lucas put Mark and his cousins to work skinning some of the meat for dinner while the ladies made ready to cook.

“Mark, we have a lot of meat here. I want you guys to keep a close watch for critters tonight. I’m more concerned for a bear than anything else. They are sure to smell this if they are anywhere nearby. We’ll keep the fire stoked well and one of us awake at all times.”

“You got it Pa. We’re ready for anything. We best be getting’ more wood while there’s still light.”

“Keep your rifle close at all times. I’ll try to watch, but you just never know. As long as we make noise and keep the fire going, we should be alright.” Lucas went to chopping some of the branches into logs while the boys kept them coming from the many trees nearby.

It was dark by the time Bat and Dillon returned with supplies. The meat was almost ready. Bat brought a fry pan and flour, he wanted some of that liver cooked his favorite way. This third night turned out to be the most fun. Nothing beats the satisfaction of bagging three bucks at one time! They would have plenty of meat to share when they got back to the ranch. The going was slow so they wasted no time getting started the next day. By the time the ranch came into view they were dog tired.

Sam and a couple of hands helped them wrestle the bucks down from the horses and set about completing the butchering process. Lucas went right into the lodge and laid down for a spell. Aubrey brought him some water and a damp towel to put over his head. Emma did about the same for Bat. The other men took care of the horses then took a seat around a table in the lodge. They did their best not to move. Mark was even spent from the long ride home in the hot sun with a heavy load. Sam and the men finished caring for the horses and the meat. There would be a wonderful night at the grill tomorrow, but for now food was not a concern. Sam put some of the meat in the smokehouse and made a brine to soak what would be served the next day.

Despite the heat, the hunting trip was a much needed break from the daily ranch life. It gave Lucas some time to think about the many changes coming upon him and the demands there would be for his time. The boys wanted to get out on the trail and the experience of bagging those muleys was priceless. Dillon got to see more of the countryside and that made his trip. Now the real excitement was about to ensue, target shooting in North Fork!

The Rifleman's Serenade — Decision Point

This is a story based on the TV series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!

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