Two friends who I have killed

A young mule deer buck walks westward in the open prairie. There is no cover for either of us. He had seen me earlier and wasn’t alarmed by my presence.

Him and I, we walk together for almost an hour, hundreds of yards apart, occasionally stopping to take stock of each other. At this moment he accepts me as part of his world and it feels good. We come to a small hill that splits us up. I arrive at the other side first and sit behind a large sagebrush plant.

A few moments later I see him, walking slowly and sometimes putting his head down to eat. He stops and sees me. He doesn’t look away.

Hello friend.

I bring the gun to my shoulder and put my eye to my scope. I take the safety off and put my finger on the trigger.

I think.


I think.


I think.


I think.

I won’t shoot if you run.

He watches me.

A tear rolls down my check. My heart is beating fast. My hands are shaky.

I aim just behind his shoulder. He never looks away from me. I take a breath and when the air is almost gone, there is stillness.

I pull the trigger.


It is morning. My goat Hazel is laying on her side. Her abdomen is contracting. She is screaming. This the only way I can put it. She sounds almost human. She is not pregnant although she is pushing like she’s in labor.

The year before she had delivered triplets, and a intrauterine tumor. At 2:00 a.m. on a Monday morning we loaded her up in the back of my Subaru, left her babies in the barn, and took her to a vet. The mass was huge. The vet sliced the tumor off her uterine wall, replaced the part of her uterus that had come out, and sent us on our way. Hazel raised all three of her babies.

There is no fixing it this time. I walk up to my house and grab my .22. My hands are shaking as I load the bullets into the gun. Shells are clinking to the floor because I can’t keep my hands steady. My dogs slink into the corners of the room.

Hazel is my favorite. We are friends. Sometimes we sit together and watch the sun set.

I think.

I can’t do this.

I think.

I have to do this.

I think.

Who can I call?

I think.

She doesn’t have time. I don’t have time.

I walk into the pen. My friend looks up at me and our eyes meet.

Somehow, she stands up and walks toward me.

I kneel down and my friend presses her head against my chest. She looks into my eyes. I tell her it’s going to be ok.

Hazel lays back down.

Tears are streaming down my face. My heart is racing. My hands are shaking.

I aim for her brainstem. When she looks away from me, I take a breath and when the air is almost gone, there is stillness.

I pull the trigger.

9 Comments on “Two friends who I have killed

  1. I’m sorry. You made me cry. Love you Alexis.

  2. So honest and raw. This is life. And death. It’s hard and should be so. <3

  3. Something between sympathy and empathy is all I can offer, I don’t even like to fish anymore having seen the light go out of to many pair of eyes. I’m done with killing and will leave it to someone else unless there is a great need for mercy. Sorry about your goat pal, they are so easy to fall in love with. ~R.I.P.~

  4. Powerful writing Alexis. I am not a hunter but I have a 12 year old grandson who takes hunting very seriously and I am learning from both of you. He is now waiting to use his long bow this season. I watched him practice and he never missed the heart area once in 5 shots. His thoughts, I don’t want “suffering”. His family lives on this meat. I get to eat it too. Keep writing! You are a teacher!

  5. Your writing took my breath away. In that stillness I was trying to figure out if I liked it, no, I did not exactly like your story -and I sense that is ok. But to think and feel from your story is its essence. Beautiful and painful, simple.

  6. That’s very sad. I had to do that with a dog once. We had no money for the Vet and the dog had distemper so I borrowed a gun. It would be the first and last time I did that. That was 40 years ago or more. I still think of it. I know how you felt. 🙁