Jenna, McKenzie, and Carly live in the “backwoods.” No hint of vocal fry or urban up-speech in their voices, they say “y’all” not “you guys.” Though fashionable, they are not fans of tattoos, nose piercings or the pink or purple hair of their fellow Gen Zs. All three are pretty and feminine young ladies—and all three are deadly shots.
Because of the Covid-19 lockdown, Jenna, Carly’s best friend, is at home “learning” virtually. But this has given her, at least, more time to hunt. Even when she actually attended public school, she would step off the school bus each afternoon, change into her camo and hurry out to her the deer stand on the family farm. She hunts all three seasons—crossbow, black powder, shotgun—and usually gets her legal limit, though, as Jenna explains it, she bides her time waiting for the bigger game like the eight-point buck she shot recently. She not only hunts but can help with field dressing her kills. And she has an excellent recipe for venison jerky.
McKenzie is a new bride, an outfielder on a local women’s softball team and a recent college graduate—she worked her way through school. With her husband, she crabs and fishes in the local estuaries keeping the freezer stocked. A petite blond with delicate features, she like Jenna, is equally skilled with the crossbow, muzzleloader and shotgun. And she is also a patient hunter looking for the right deer to come along. And he did.
McKenzie’s best trophy had been a seven-point buck. No rag horn, it was something she was proud of. But what made her a local legend and set a county record was the one she got a year later. That day started out on a sour note. Discouraged because she hadn’t seen anything other than some does, she resigned herself to taking one of them and succeeded in doing so. Then a huge buck—a monster in the words of one hunting association—stepped into view a hundred yards away and McKenzie fired. It had rack with a twenty-six-inch spread and thirteen points—actually fourteen but what appeared to have been the largest point had been broken off probably in combat with another buck. It was the kill of a lifetime and prissy little McKenzie was the centre of attention, having earned the respect of many an old hunter.
Like McKenzie, Carly is also a new graduate—from high school in this case. Unlike McKenzie, hunting is something she has only recently taken up in earnest. Up to now, she has proven her marksmanship mainly on the shooting range over at a neighboring farm, her prey just some metal coyote cutouts. That all changed on a late fall Saturday, when the lawns were still green, the leaves just beginning to cover them.
In the morning, Carly put on her hunting gear (which included camo Crocks) and headed for the woods. She took up her spot in the ground blind and, ignoring all the noise that the squirrels, for such small creatures, always seem to make, listened hard for the snap of a twig. Her sharp young eyes fringed with false lashes, Carly watched and held a beautifully manicured finger on the trigger of a CenterPoint. When she heard that unmistakable snap, her hunting companion calling out a sound that makes a deer freeze, she got the kill—a young buck. It wasn’t Sissy’s legendary monster, but it was her first deer and it was a perfect shot—the arrow went straight through its heart. Fortunately, Carly didn’t have to track down a wounded and suffering animal deep into the swamp. She knew right away that she had a clean kill because the buck tucked his tail down. When a deer’s tail is up it means he is likely going to run.
In Carly’s circle of friends, that first deer is a special event. She, McKenzie and Jenna are country girls whose sweethearts are country boys. There are Battle Flag decals and mud splatters on their four wheelers; there are mostly country songs on their digital playlists. Keeping to their remote corner of the county as much as they can, they are unimpressed with places like New York City, preferring their own rural world. They understand that their culture and way of life are under attack and that in the present day there are those who do not wish to leave them in peace. Intuitively Constitutional originalists with a basic grasp of history, they also know, avid hunters though they might be, that the Second Amendment is not about hunting.