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By Kathleen Deatherage
Vern Deatherage had always wanted to hunt mule deer with his dad, Bernard, ever since his dad had hunted them in Washington state when Vern was a little boy, but he never got to realize that dream. His father passed away in 2000 before they got a chance to hunt “mulies” together.
This fall he did get to hunt mule deer, though, for the first time, and all because he had made the acquaintance of J.W. Bookout of Clovis, N.M.
J.W. had grown up around Seymour and while he was on visits to family here, he would stop into Vern’s gun shop in Ava to pass the time.
J.W. said his son, Lance, who also lives in Clovis, was friends with a man who owned and had access to a lot of farming acreage around Muleshoe, Texas, just over the state line, and he hunted mule deer there each year. Lance then asked the man, Scott Kline, if Vern would be able to hunt mule there for the first time. Scott asked if Vern was a veteran, and when he found out that Vern was a disabled veteran, he immediately agreed.
So Vern and I set off for Muleshoe. After we settled in, met Scott and his family, and did some local sightseeing for two days, Vern and Scott set off and were hunting by daylight on Nov. 19, opening morning of the Texas season. Two buck were spotted, but Scott judged them to be smaller ones and Vern chose to wait rather than shoot.
A break was taken in the middle of the day for a meal and then some repair work with Scott and his father-in-law on a quarter- mile section of moving irrigation system on one of the farm’s many cotton field, and Vern pitched in to help. He had never worked closely with those large irrigation systems before, and he joked afterwards that now he had a whole new respect for them.
In mid-afternoon they returned to hunting, and before nightfall Vern had shot a nine-point buck that led them on a wild chase in Scott’s Gator before they could claim it. It weighed 240 pounds on the scales in Scott’s garage and weighed 190 pounds after it was field-dressed. Vern was so excited and thrilled, and also had poignant thoughts of his father. It was a new, exciting and very special experience for him and he is so grateful to Scott Kline and his family, Lance Bookout and J.W. Bookout for making it all possible.
The next day Scott took the deer to Clovis where Lance and his neighbor, Jim, who is a taxidermist, skinned and quartered it for us. The taxidermist then prepared to do a “European” mount.
We then spent Thanksgiving week in Albuquerque visiting my dad and sister. We traveled back to Clovis on our return trip to Missouri to pick up the venison that Lance had graciously kept for us, and also to pick up the European mount.
And so, Vern accomplished his dream, thanks to some very special people. Some great lifelong memories were made, as well.