It was almost a half hour before Dwight had hiked to the spot where the deer lay. Perhaps he could not have moved more quickly had he tried. It was true that the years had stiffened his muscles. Dwight approved of his slow pace, however, because he knew that animals are resilient. He had seen does take as long as twenty minutes to pass, even with a clean shot to the skull. Dwight did not want to be near when the deer drew its last breath. He believed that strong things die alone. Once he reached the doe he wasted no time in cutting into her flesh. It was then that he noticed a form on the horizon.
At the other end of the valley there stood the shadow of a man. His form was thick. No man who lived in these parts could keep that much meat on his bones through the dead of winter. He stood tall, facing Dwight, his body fixed in that direction. One arm hung loosely on the man's right, but the arm on his left was tense and straight and the wrist turned toward the body where the hand gripped a dropped rifle. Dwight remained still, watching the man in his periphery. He was careful not to broaden himself by turning to face the stranger. In an instant the stranger's wrist twitched and both rifles were raised, but Dwight's arm was quicker and his was the only shot to echo through the valley. The stranger thudded against the snow like a sack of feed.
Once Dwight had finished with the doe and loaded her meat into his pack, he set off toward the point where the stranger lay. Indeed, the man was unfamiliar with these parts. He wore no hide and carried no provisions. The face was hard to call. Dwight couldn't remember meeting a man with that face, but his memory was always a little rusty where faces were involved. Behind the body was a trail of stark footprints. The left tracks drug a bit, and Dwight returned to the body long enough to cut the man's pants. Below them he found precisely what he expected: a homemade cast around a makeshift splint. Had it not been past noon, Dwight might have searched the body for some sort of identification, but it being in the later part of the day he chose to begin the arduous journey back toward the cabin. Vaguely, he hoped the body would not be eaten by wolves in the night.