Casino Stories - A Blackjack Hunter
I was visiting at The Fitz in Tunica, Mississippi. The wife and I had a room located on the 8th floor of the hotel that was attached. It was very nice. We'd eat at the buffet at the casino / hotel which is on the balcony / mezzanine/ I particularly like the fried bologna that they serve. We enjoy the balcony area that contains the five cent video poker machines and we're usually in that area for quite a while each day of our stay. Sometimes I wonder downstairs and play blackjack down on the main floor.
I was playing on a Thursday when I noticed the older fellow. He sat there at the other end of the blackjack table. Sort of a craggy overweight windblown look about him. Thinning hair almost looked wispy but it was still black. Had a rough, denin shirt on. It was a $5 table. He had a jumble of red chips in front of him that he'd stack and restack as he considered what he was to do next.
There were two other players (a man and a woman that were apparently together) at the table and they were chattering away not paying much attention to what was going on. After a few minutes they decided to move on to another game and cheerfully picked up there chips and departed.
We'd sat there about 1/2 an hour without saying anything when the old fellow at the other end looked at me. "Weather out there is frightful, isn't it?" he asked.
Never one to dodge a conversation, I answered "Sure is. I came down here for some pretty weather and we get this." I sort of gestured at the entrance.
"Where you from?" he asked.
"Michigan. Central part of the state. Small town. Well, actually we live outside a small town on a country road. Pretty remote. How about you?"
"Wisconsin. I live way up north near one of the lakes. We grow baking potatoes and sell then to restaurants around the state and then in the off season the wife and I take people out muskie fishing."
"I hear that muskie fishing is a tough thing to do right," I commented.
"It is. We've been doing it for a long time and we don't have a lot of competition. Man could make a pretty good living doing nothing else but taking people to the right spots and showing them how to do it."
The game moved along for a while and we neither one said anything. I lost a few hands and won a few and he did the same. He looked up at me.
"What do you do in Michigan?" he asked.
"Nothing much anymore," I responded. "I've been retired for quite a few years. Worked in different government jobs while I was working. Worked in Michigan and then moved to Florida for a while and worked for a county down there. When I retired we moved out to Reno until the wife decided it'd be nice to be closer to family so we moved back to mid Michigan."
"You've moved around quite a bit," he said. "I've lived in Wisconsin all my life. Went to school there. Met my wife there. Had the kids and raised them there. Probably'll die there."
"Lots of wildlife up there?" I asked.
"You know, I was just thinking about that," he said. "It's really too bad about some people."
He shook his head as if a little disgusted.
There was a squeal from the next table over. I couldn't tell for sure whether someone had spilled a drink or if something unusual had happened in the game. It was in front of me and behind the fellow at the other end. He swivelled around so he could see. It effectively stopped all action at our table. I could seem over his shoulder that the yound couple had moved over there and she was really excited. They'd started playing a game that she knew nothing about and had accidentally won a 25-1 bet. She'd had $2 out and won $50 and was letting everyone know she'd won.
After a minute or two we turned back to our game.
He took a sip of his drink. "You know," he said. "Talking about hunting reminds me of an incident from a while back."
"This happened once or twice over the years. It happened again recently and it's really bothered me. I was out in the woods about a week or so ago, just wandering around and I came upon this clearing."
When he looked up at me, I could see that one of his eyes wasn't working properly and he had to turn his head a little sideways when he looked at me and then turn his head again to see his cards when he was dealt a new hand.
He looked down as the dealer paid him for a winning hand and then looked back at me again. "Standing on the other side of the clearing was a little deer - a fawn. Couldn't have been more than a couple weeks old. Had those big sad, yet curious eyes. Just stood there and looked at me."
He shook his head slowly and watched the blackjack hand develop. "I stood just as still as I could so he didn't get scared and bolt off 'cause I liked just standing there looking at him."
His good eye just sort of looked off into space. "He had those little spots that the young ones do before they've spent much time out of their mothers and still looked like it was kind of wiggly on his spindly legs. I noticed that behind this baby, there was a pile of something on the ground and I finally walked forward to see what it was. When I did the one I was watching sort of skittered off to the side of the clearing and stood there sort of poised to run."
The drinks person brought us me a beer and him a glass of something. He picked his up and sipped on it. He smiled a little like he enjoyed the drink.
"I walked over there and looked down. It was a dead deer. Probably the little one's mother. I could see that someone had shot it twice. Once in the neck and once down in the body. And, it isn't even deer season up there. And, they didn't take the meat or nothing. Just shot it for the fun of shooting something."
He shook his head, drooped his head some, and looked sad.
"I'm a hunter," he said. "During the seasons I get enough meat that we don't buy very much. But, to just go out and shoot a deer for the fun of it I don't understand. Now there's that little young thing without any way to eat or learn stuff. I thought about putting a tether on him and taking him home with me but I knew that wasn't right."
He turned his head and looked at me with his good eye. "That's like 'murder'," he said as he began to get agitated. "Isn't it? Why would somebody do something like that?" He got red in the face and he stood up at his end of the table.
He was almost bouncing on his feet and looked really angry. He reached out and pulled his chips back He stood up. "I'm going to the rest room," he said and strode off into the people wandering around.
The dealer and I looked at each other for a second before we continued with the game.