2000 Liars Contest

Mark Howes

Helvetia, Randolph Co.

(Second Place)

Mark Howes, Second Place Liar

I went to a bingo and won! Everybody thought, you know, they hand out money around Helvetia for bingo, but we're not that lucky up there. What we had was some circus tents. You know what I'm talking about, circus surplus brought in there. And by me being the big winner, I got the grand tent, the granddaddy of them all. I loved that tent. So I tell my cousin, Mike, I said let's go muzzle-loader hunting. He had never been muzzle-loader hunting.

So we decided we would go down on the Back Fork of the Elk, which is above Webster's Springs, down in a big hollow. And when we got the tent down there and set it up, we set it up on a great big landing. And this landing had cut-offs from the logs. Well, the tent covered everything. It was so big that you could build a fire inside it. So, with the rain and the weather, we didn't have no problem with our hunting. Everything was dry. But, lo and behold, that night there was a rain and the Back Fork came up. The water came up.

In the morning, first thing he said was, "Look at it rainin' out there. Look how high the river is."

So, we pull up the middle pole. And one good thing about a tent that size is you can move the fire and the tent at the same time. So we moved it all up on a flat. Got up there and decided we'd go hunting. Got out there and I seen the biggest buck that's ever been seen anywhere in the state of West Virginia. I know it. I'm a good hunter.

I levelled down on him and shot him. Anybody that knows anything about deer hunting, when you shoot a deer, you don't just run up to it. You give it a chance for the shock to set in, for the deer to die. Well, I stood there, stood there, and I thought maybe I'd missed it. But the deer just kept standing there. So I whipped out my muzzle-loader and my powder horn, and I was pouring the powder in it, and I rammed the rod in it and the bullet. I pulled it up, it was raining so hard, it was wet. It didn't go off.

So, I ran back down to the tent, and I'm telling you right here today, never dry your powder out over an open flame. That tent went 50 feet in the air. It looked like a great big kite. And, you know, everything that we had in there. My cousin comes running down, he didn't know what blowed up. Everything I got is my rifle, everything else is gone. Our clothes, everything is wet.

He said, "Forget this camping trip. I'm on my way out of this hollow. Fifteen miles right across that ridge," he says, "I figure I'll be home by 3:00 in the morning, but I'm going to get there."

He takes off. I thought to myself, "Well, what am I going to do. I'm not going to leave that buck deer."

So I goes back up there, there's a great big set of rock cliffs, and it's still pouring the rain down. And I didn't want to walk up on that deer. I could see the deer again.

I thought, "If I get up on them rocks, I could probably see him a lot better."

So I head up on the hill, go around, circle the rocks, get out on the rocks, and I couldn't see very good, but I noticed there was a tree leaning out. So I slithered out that tree and I was laying out there watching him and he's just standing there.

About now that tree broke off. Just to tell you the size horns on that deer, that tree lodged right in the forks of that deer's horns. That deer hit the ground. Why, here I'd killed that thing dead cold, he'd died in his tracks and I didn't know it.

So, I thinks to myself, "Man, this is nice. This is going to be the world-record deer."

I proceed to field dress him, and in the meanwhile, all this rain and stuff had turned to sleet and snow, and if anybody's ever been out there and you're wet and you're cold and you're excited, you seem to get colder quicker. I got cold, but the inside entrails in that deer, it was so warm, you know, it felt so warm, I just sort of slid right down inside it, after I got his entrails out. I pulled it up around me and it kept me so warm. I just decided I'd sleep there tonight and rest. Evening was setting in, darkness came down, and it sleeted all night long.

During the night, with all that sleet, which must been stacked up to six or seven inches, I'd say (just guessing), the next thing I knowed, I just felt like I was just riding right along, down the hill. The only thing that saved me was the strings I had on that deer's antlers where I was going to drag him out of the woods. My pull rope, I had that in my hand. I didn't have my muzzle-loader, I felt around for it, it was gone, and I was just shooting down off that hill, and I hit right out into the Back Fork of the Elk. And let me tell you people, I know what it's like when the Lord said darkness upon the void of the deep. Cause there I went, and I had put a new ride into what kayaking is all about in West Virginia, let me tell you. Right down the back fork of the Elk I went. Every once in awhile I could feel something hit me in the face. Trout was a-hanging off of the forks of that deer. They was stacking up on them like sardines.

On down through, and I thought to myself, "I'm going to drown, this is it. My whole life is gone."

And, Lord have mercy, right here in front of me came the Sutton Dam. I was never so glad to see anything in my whole life, cause I knew that the water would still down, and I could just steer him over to the bank and slide up on the bank real nice and easy. Well, what would happen when he hit the Sutton Dam? He was just coming right along real good until I picked up a couple of trash bags and a great big catfish. Straight down I went into the fiery depths of that damn dam.

And I knew that my end had come, so I just bent down to kiss myself goodby. And when I bent over and stuck my head down in there, lo and behold, there was a great big vacuum of air in there, a pocket of air, that was going to give me enough life to live in the cavity of that deer where I'd left where I took his heart out.

Ahh. Through the dam we went, shot out down there at Elkview right up George Dougherty's driveway. Right up to his front door. That deer had went so fast and so far that there was nothing on its horns, just stubs. The hide was wore off the deer. The deer was absolutely nothing. And if you know George Dougherty, he would tell you that just from the looks of the scalp on that deer, that was the biggest deer in the state of West Virginia, but you try to tell that to the game commission to see what they tell you. Good day. Thank you.