Jesse's dad taught him to track, hunt, fish, raise chickens and then chop off their heads. Bill Kern also taught his son how ferment black raspberries. That was over 33 years ago. Jesse's mom died when he was near enough to seven to spit at it. His dad never re-married. Bill Kern died of prostate cancer about three years ago or so.
For Jesse, days and years sort of blended together and he rarely would remember an anniversary or birthday. He preferred the timeless movement of the woods- the snort of a deer, growl of a bear, and the scream of a rabbit were sounds he remembered and dates he studiously kept track of in a small black, leather-bound journal.
Jesse Kern was single. It seemed to him that women wanted a reward for leaving him. He paid a price every time he fell in love. Lately, he was more concerned about shooting a deer goodnight than saying goodnight dear.
A few days ago Charlie Ross had spotted a 12-point White Buck lying low under a stand of hemlocks. Charlie lived about a half-mile North of Jesse Kern on County Road 319. The white buck or albino buck is one of the rarest of deer and to have it's head stuffed and hung on the rec room wall was a Diffle County source of pride.
Within a few hours of lying quietly under a forest canopy, the white buck was talked about at Church Bingo, at the Masonic Lodge, at the Knights of Columbus, at the local Elks, the Moose, the VFW, the American Legion, and every other bar and tavern in Diffle County. By the time Jesse Kern heard about the white buck, it had grown to State record size with at least 18 points of sheer white antler divinity.
Jesse pushed his stringy blonde hair back behind his ears and smiled. He knew that stand of hemlocks sat on the border between his property and the state game lands. For the past two days Jesse walked all the familiar paths in the woods near his cabin. He looked for signs of buck rub on the higher branches, where only a prize buck in his prime could reach. He studied the tracks on the deer trails and paths. He sat in his favorite deer stand and watched the forest underneath. He listened for the buck that might be nearby, moving through the thicker brush with quiet respect for the man watching from the trees.
Jesse Kern walked these trails nearly every day, setting traps and blinds, and fixing deer stands. Kern knew Diffle County better than Google Earth. He adjusted his backpack and rifle as he began tracking the elusive white deer.
In 1945, Jesse's Grandfather Harold and Great Uncle Paul divided the 150 acre farm where County Road 319 ran through the center. At least Harold Kern thought the road divided the land in half. A few years after the papers were signed, Harold hired a surveyor. He owned 47 acres. His scoundrel of a brother owned 103 acres. Harold Kern had trusted his brother and learned a bitter lesson in vocabulary: Without the word betrayal, the word trust would cease to exist.
Now through a stroke of luck, bad for Paul's side of the family and good for Jesse- the entire farm was going to become whole again. Great Uncle Paul and his wife Viola only had three children, Maggie, Ruth, and Johnathan. Naturally, Paul left his entire estate to Jesse's Uncle Johnathan- who married a frail woman from the city named Cecile Robuster. She promptly died of cancer on her 24th birthday and left Johnathan childless. He never remarried (some say John preferred the company of men anyway) and recently passed away from an "unknown disease". The sole heir of his estate? Jesse Kern. Great Uncle Paul was rolling over in his grave. Paul's sisters sued for their fair share of the estate and lost in court over the very clear handwriting in Great Uncle Paul's last Will and Testament.
The words were written like this:
( "...as for my two thieving gossiping, man-killing sisters I leave each one dollar of monopoly money. I won't have my hard earned cash tossed into one-armed bandits and drunk down with fancy drinks. There isn't a bank in hell that would take my money but Maggie and Ruth would sure as hell try to deposit it there. I also leave nothing for their children or their children's children. I'd rather give my money to a clan of gypsies. I'd rather leave it to my bastard brother's grandson. Leave them nothing and don't let a judge tell you otherwise. I am of sound mind and body and this is my last request. Signed Paul Kern"
Since the land transfer wasn't yet complete, Jesse Kern stayed off his Uncle's farm. Besides the deer was Jesse's main concern and he was focused on that stand of hemlocks near the game lands. Despite several sightings from residents all over Diffle County, Jesse Kern hadn't caught the slightest scent of this world record buck. He decided to talk with the best hunter in Diffle County and get some tips on how to catch the great white deer. Big Don opened the door to the Township building and smiled broadly from ear to ear as Jesse Kern stepped inside.
"You've come to the right place!" Big Don exclaimed as they walked through an interior doorway that led to the Township garage..
END PART 1