Merritt Bogdrosian Hunts Injun Style?
Erich Earl Forschler | Cait Maloney
It was bout mid-July up there at Mama Vanney’s house near Chuckey when I first heard the story of Merritt Bogdrosian. The whole family had come out to celebrate the birthdays of Mama Vanney an cousin Laura’s baby, cause they was both born on the same day some 70 years apart. We had some tables an chairs put out on the shade side of the house there in the valley an made it a potluck dinner. Uncle Roscoe brung his big smoker an smoked some ribs offa hog he got up in Johnson City. The women was all on one side out there takin turns holdin the baby an all the men was on the other drinkin beer an whiskey an gettin all loud. All them old fellas had just finished eatin their ribs an sent me to fetch some warshcloths so they could clean up after an when I brought the warshcloths I heard uncle Mitch tellin the story bout Merritt:
“So, when I was workin the quarry out there in Johnson City there was this boy named Merritt what I took huntin one time. Merritt Bogdrosian. Seemed bout like everybody else, said he wanted to come deer huntin sometime an he ain’t have a place to hunt, so I told him, ‘fine, you come on an hunt with me,’ an that’s how that got started.
“Well, we leff out one mornin an drove out there to Fall Branch where John Tanner had that land I use to hunt on, an when we got there I walked this boy out to one of the stands an told him to holler if needs somethin an then I went on bout another quarter mile over a ridge where I had another stan an then I set up there an waited.
“Now, where my stan was at I could see cross this field where John Tanner had some cows out there an then behind me there was woods an a hill. An it ain’t take but about a half hour of settin there before I hear this commotion come from the woods behind me, like somebody tryin to climb out a bush you know, an when I turnt around I swear I see a man, buck-ass naked, hop up out the bush an then come runnin pass me an out to that field an then he disappeared over a rise there. An I’m juss like, ‘What the Hell,’ an I keep thinkin that this fella looks juss like that boy Merritt.
“Bout an hour later — an I’m still settin there juss confused as all git-out you know — well bout an hour later he comes back out the field an through the woods right pass me an then back up behind my stan an then I hear all this commotion again from the bush back there.”
“You ain’t say nuthin?” Roscoe asked him then. They was all smilin an shakin their heads an drinkin.
“Hell naw,” Mitch said back. “I ain’t know what to do at first. Damnedest thing I ever seen. Ol’ boy all buck-nude an runnin like he was. So, I give it bout another half hour an then I figgered I cain’t concentrate on nothin anyway now, so I said, ‘To hell with this sheeyut,’ an I climbed out my stan an went an found ol’ Merritt Bogdrosian settin in his stan where I leff him, actin like he’s settin there lookin for deer. Clothes on, gun on his lap an all. Like he ain’t juss seen me see his naked ass.
“An I walked up to the bottom of his stan an said, ‘I seen a streaker.’ An he acted like he ain’t know I know it was him, you know? So then I juss ask him direct: ‘Why’d you take your clothes off an go runnin up through that field over yonder?’ An he gets all mad an pissy bout how I’m ‘makin up lies’ an all that, so I juss let it go.
“But then I go back to work the next Monday an I ask some a the fellas there if they knew bout that Bogdrosian boy an ain’t none of em heard nothin bout it. So I let it go.”
Then Mitch paused an took a big swig of whiskey an wiped his mouth with the back of his hand an said, “Then bout three months later I heard they done caught that boy out near Telford. Fella took him huntin an then walked up on it an he brought that boy down to the Sheriff at gunpoint.”
“No kiddin,” one of em said.
“Dayum,” said another.
Roscoe was laughin an shakin his head an he said, “Them poor damn cows.”
Then they all started in laughin. An when the laughin died down a bit they realized I was standin there holdin them warshcloths so they started takin the warshcloths an wipin their hans an mouths an Mitch was watchin me real hard an he says, “What’s wrong, boy? You look confused.”
An I said, “I just don’t understan why that fella hunts naked like that.”
“Because he ain’t huntin,” Mitch said.
“Then what’s he doin out there?” I asked. They was all laughin again.
“Oh, he was huntin all right,” Roscoe said between laughs.
“But with his bare hands like that?” I asked. They thought that was funny. “Maybe he thought it was like injun style or somethin?”
Then a couple of em laughed so hard they fell over, an Roscoe was slappin the table yellin out “Injun style!” an ain’t a one of em ever let me live it down to this day, an I still don’t know why Merritt Bogdrosian hunts the way he does, or why them old farts think it’s so damn funny.