My Vet is a Vet by Gary Benton
Just the other night, back in 1979, I was sitting by a large campfire sippin’ on a hot cup of coffee as the boys discussed the day’s deer hunt. Now, I’m a redneck and I hunt with rednecks, so ya know the conversation was pretty deep, or something was deep anyway, if you know what I mean. The air was cool, but not really cold, and while all of us wore hooded sweatshirts we didn’t really need ‘em. But, as I glanced around I noticed most of them had been given away by local feed stores or farm tractor companies. One, which had a nice oak camouflage design, had Lort’s Feedlot and Bridal Supplies stenciled on it with black marker. Of course each hunter had a matching hat; after all we do take our hunting attire seriously.
Bobby Dale raised his coffee cup and said; “I must have seen ten deer today.”
“Bull feathers!” Bubba commented as he leaned back against a log and then continued with, “If you had, why’d ya come back empty-handed then?”
“Too small to shoot.”
Uncle Ben met Bobby’s eyes and asked, “What was too small, you or the deer?”
“The deer.” Bobby Dale replied with narrow eyes as he repositioned the coffee pot on the coals of the fire.
“Ain’t no size limit on ‘em.” Burrhead said as he scratched where it itched.
Bobby Dale thought for a moment, and since he’s Bubba’s brother that simple act alone surprised me, before he replied, “I’m lookin’ fer a trophy.”
Laughter filled the night air and then Willy Eugene said, “Son, I’m a-lookin’ fer meat. I ain’t seen no trophy yet I can set my choppers into. Nope, give me a good meal any day over a trophy buck.”
Now, Willy Eugene had the belly to prove what he said he meant. The man must weigh at least three hundred pounds and most of that hangs over his belt buckle. Willy is a good man and he’ll give ya the shirt off of his back, but don’t ever lie to him or steal food from ‘em, because then he’ll get mean and ugly. He once chased Bubba for the better part of two miles and all because Bubba stole a strip of bacon from his plate. Nope, when it came to talkin’ about food, Willy knew the subject well.
“I want a trophy and by golly, I’ll have one this year.” Bobby Dale stated brusquely.
“Only trophy ya’ll get ‘round heah is if ya join a good bowlin’ team,” Bubba said and then gave a loud laugh.
“I only had one shot all day,” Bubba said with a sad voice. “And, I would have got it too, except at the last second I realized it was a mailbox and missed it on purpose.”
Uncle Ben gave a sad moan and replied, “Uh-huh, I know the feelin’ well. Last year I saw mailboxes with horns, fence posts with horns, chickens with horns, and even an outhouse with horns. Every dang thang I saw had horns on it!”
“But you got yer deer Ben.” Bobby Dale said in confusion.
“Yep, I shore did, but only because the thang woke him up as it moved through where he was sleepin’ at.” Burrhead said and then gave a loud cackle.
“I twernt sleepin’, I was restin’ mah eyes.”
“Well, if-un that’s the case Ben, ya sure rest ‘em loud. I’ll bet ya I heard ya restin’ them eyes a good hun’ert yards off and in my tree stand to boot.” Willy Eugene spoke, picked up the coffee pot and as he poured a cup, he added, “’Cept it don’t make no never mind. As long as ya fill the tag, legal like, it’s a deer to take home.”
I’d been listenin’ to the conversation, but I had not said a word. See, I like to see how the conversation is goin’ then stir the pot a bit. I pushed my hat back on my head and asked, “What about all them folks that don’t believe in huntin’ or eatin’ meat? Don’t y’all think we should corn-sider their feelin’s none?”
Burrhead looked at me, blinked his eyes a couple of times and replied honestly, “Nope.”
“Bunch of fools is what that are. Do they think that chicken they buy in the stores is born wrapped in plastic and sitting on Styrofoam?” Uncle Ben asked as he pulled his old pipe out of his shirt pocket. He had quit smoking years before, but he enjoyed having the empty pipe between his teeth.
“And, do they consider how in the world it got plucked too?” Burrhead asked.
“Most of ‘em ain’t got no idea where food comes from.” Bubba said and then grinned as he said, “And, if they had to butcher their own meat most of ‘em would become one of them veterinarians.”
Willy Eugene shook his head slowly and said, “That’s vegetarians, Bubba, not veterinarians. A vet takes care of yer dawgs or cats when they get sick.”
Bubba’s eyes grew wide in surprise as he asked, “Ya mean a-fore one of them folks can become a vet they gotta serve in the military? I ain’t even asked mine what branch of the service they served in or nothin’. Personal like, I don’t see the need or the reason behind it a-tall.”
“Not a vet, but a vet.” Bobby Dale quickly said and then met my eyes as he grinned. We both knew it took but little to get Bubba goin’ good and he was easy to confuse.
Bubba, now totally mixed up, replied, “It don’t matter none and y’all stop pickin’ on me. Ya know what I mean. But why do they have to be a vet before they can become a vet? Ain’t a vet a vet?”
“No, see, both a military veteran and a veterinarian are called vets Bubba, but they’re jobs ain’t the same.” I said as I placed my now empty cup down by my right leg.
“I know a vet that don’t even have a job.” Burrhead added quickly.
“No animals?” Bubba asked.
“Not that kind of yet, a military vet.”
“Now, that’s jess plain dumb, but I mean about the animal doctor, not the military vet.” Bubba replied and I could hear the discombobulation in his voice
“Who so?” Uncle Ben asked.
“If they served in the military they’re already vets.”