It has been written that our American cousins and we are… “Two nations divided by a common language”. The tale below is a graphic illustration of this axiom.
I should like to begin by saying that the one individual described in this story is not in my experience typical, or indeed a common representative of his people. In fact, the American friends that I do have, all… “Ride, shoot straight and speak the truth.”
My story begins however not in the mid-west but the west midlands. My mate Jacko is a true Shropshire lad, born and raised a country boy and quite literally a poacher turned gamekeeper. When it came to birds, ferrets, dogs of all shapes and sizes, and in particular foxes, there wasn’t a lot Jacko didn’t know. Also, if asked he would gleefully share this knowledge with any youngster that took an interest.
Jacko though, had never shot a deer. It was a few years ago that he resolved he wasn’t going to be much older before he did. Being already an accomplished rifle shot (he owned a Ruger 77 in .223 and a Sako rim fire) it didn’t take very long before he was confident with my 7mm Rem. Two seasons Hind stalking with us on a favourite estate in Inverness-shire and Jacko was hooked, and also by now the proud owner of a used but immaculate Sako 75 in 7mm08.
The next step was a Red Stag: and Jacko was going to do it properly. He didn’t much care if he took a royal or not, what mattered to him was the experience. He had trawled through, borrowed and read every classic book on Scottish hill stalking that I possessed. So by now had a pretty good idea of what he wanted, (the only concession he was prepared to make was substituting an Argo for a Garron).
He saved his tip money all through the season and any spare cash that came his way moonlighting as a brickie. He bought himself a quality Tweed suit and was ready.
By sheer good fortune it happened that a mutual friend had arranged for some US business associates to visit with a view to enjoying some stag stalking. This was booked on the Scottish estate where we are lucky enough do some November Hind stalking, indeed the same estate referred to above.
The good news for Jacko was one of the Americans could not make the trip: “Would you like to take his place,” he was asked. For the next two months Jacko was beside himself with excitement. Summer soon began to fade and the nights grew longer October was upon us and an enthusiastic Jacko was heading for the A9 having detoured briefly via Manchester airport to collect the remaining two Americans.
These two lads were as different as chalk and cheese. I had the pleasure of meeting them both before their return to the “land of the free”. The younger guy Dave, was quiet and unassuming but with a polite eagerness. The other one, we shall call him Hank, was quite the opposite. Hank was the sort of stereotypical Yank that I didn’t think actually existed; he was rich, loud, overbearing, overweight, rude, a racist, a sexist, and more unforgivably not a particularly good shot!
The weeks stalking went well, the resident stalkers being the consummate professionals they were had succeeding in getting the Anglo-American team onto a decent stag apiece. Hank, not happy with his beast, wanted to be away to the hill again in search of something better! Jacko had asked if could accompany this excursion as an observer and had been granted permission.
As chance would have it they came within stalking distance of a superb twelve pointer. After some time was spent convincing Hank that “it just wasn’t done” to drive over and shoot it from the Argo, a successful stalk was made and the beast was down. It was later that afternoon in the estate larder that things left the sublime…
The two stalkers were busily engaged pouring whiskey and lardering the stag leaving Jacko and Hank to admire the magnificent head placed reverently on the bench. Hank was tracing a podgy finger around the coronet. “Say Jacko wad-ya call this in the UK?”
Jacko looked at it for a moment, “F**K Knows” was his simple yet honest reply.
“You call it the Phuc nose, eh,” replied Hank “in the States we call it a Rose”
Bob the elder of the two stalkers had heard this brief exchange. He stuck it for about two seconds before rushing outside where his puzzled colleague Ian found him, on following his rapid exit, behind the larder. Bob was almost bent double with tears streaming down his face, one hand against the larder wall the other holding his side in an effort to prevent it from splitting.
In Badenoch and Strathspey this has entered folklore.
Should you ever be lucky enough to find yourself at the bar of a local hotel with a dram in your hand after a successful day at the hill, and should you overhear a drawled conversation along the lines of “Why, sure buddy! With a Phuc nose like that it’s gonna make record book!” you will now understand.
I am indebted to “Bob” who rang me with the story that night, and still smiles at the thought of it yet.