Read CHAPTER XIV - HOW JERRY WAS TREED of The Outdoor Chums / The First Tour of the Rod‚ Gun and Camera Club, free online book, by Captain Quincy Allen, on ReadCentral.com.

Jerry, that same morning, reached the camp of the old trapper without any trouble.

He did not find Jesse Wilcox at home; but, knowing something of the trapper’s habits, he made himself comfortable, and waited.

After a time the other showed up.  He carried a tidy bunch of fur along with him, having stopped to remove the pelts on the way.

“Glad to see ye, Jerry.  Looky here, one fine fox, and, would ye believe it, actually a mink, boy!  That ere pelt orter bring me a twenty, all right.  That’s why I’m so tickled, ye see.  This shore must be one o’ my lucky days.  Make yerself to hum.  Come to take a snack o’ dinner along with me, I reckons, eh?”

“Well, I might wait up and have a bite if you don’t keep me too long.  You see I mean to make a roundabout trip into that stretch of woods you told us about I’d like the worst kind to get a crack at a deer.  That would be worth while, Jesse.”

“Then I’ll get busy right away.  But p’raps ye’d better defer that ere trip fur a day or so, lad,” remarked the trapper, sweeping an eye upward.

“Why?” asked the boy.

“Thar’s some sorter storm broodin’, er I’m bad deceived.  In course at this season we don’t expect much along that line; but I hev seen a scorcher come along, even in October.  Ten year ago it was, and thar was quite some timber leveled, I’m tellin’ ye.”

But Jerry was built along a stubborn line:  Having once made up his mind to do a thing it was very hard for him to break away.

“Oh!  I don’t bother about a little blow.  If it comes to the worst I can find a hollow tree, and keep pretty dry.  Now, I want to see just how you cook that stew, so I can do it sometime.”

The dinner was a success, and, of course, Jerry, being hungry, heartily enjoyed it.  When the meal was finished he arose, and picked up his gun.

“Still of a mind to take that long tramp, air ye?” asked the trapper.

“Why, certainly.  I haven’t even thought of changing my mind,” returned the boy.

“Well, I s’pose ye must, then.  Only keep yer eye peeled for trouble up yonder.  It’s sure goin’ to storm; for I feels it in my bones.  Besides, thar’s a pack o’ measly wild dogs loose in that stretch o’ timber.”

“Wild dogs?” repeated Jerry, opening his eyes wider.

“Sartin; dogs as has strayed away from ther homes, an’ took back to a wild state.  It happens that ways sometimes.  Ther call o’ the wild, they name it.  Sumpin’ seems to pull the critters back, an’ they break away from human kind to roam the woods an’ hunt ther livin’.  I seen the pack once or twice, an’ I kinder believe ther a-gettin’ more fiercer all the while.”

“Wild dogs, eh?  How many about are there, Jesse?” asked Jerry, fingering his shotgun a little nervously.

“From three to five ginerally.  Ye see they comes an’ goes, so ther ain’t no tellin’ jest how big the pack kin be.  But ef so be they tackles ye, son, jest shin up a tree, an’ then pick ’em off.  That’s my ijee,” remarked the trapper.

Shaking hands, after getting further directions, Jerry hastened away.

It was not long before he found himself in the densest kind of timber.  In fact, he had not seen anything like it since coming to the hemlock camp.

Here and there were little openings, in some of which green grass grew.  It was here the trapper had told him he might possibly find a deer feeding; and as he made his way along, Jerry kept on the lookout for signs.

He had been walking much over an hour when he thought he caught a glimpse of a deer ahead; there was something moving there, at least, and with his pulses quickened the boy began to slowly and cautiously advance.

Yes, it was a deer, and feeding, too!

The light was none too good under the trees, with that dark threatening sky over all; but Jerry had keen eyes and he was just now excited at the prospect of at least getting a shot.

He kept on advancing, taking advantage of every bit of cover that offered.  To his delight the animal did not seem to pay any attention to him, though raising its head several times to sniff the air suspiciously.

By this time, he had gained a position where he believed he could make the buckshot in his gun tell, and with as steady a hand as he could bring to bear, Jerry took aim at the exposed side of the deer.

When he fired the animal fell in its tracks, and, giving a shout, the exultant young hunter was about rushing forward to secure his quarry when suddenly his horrified eyes discovered moving figures rushing through the undergrowth, and heading toward the spot where the deer lay, still struggling feebly.

Instantly he remembered what the trapper had said.  These then were the wild dogs.  Evidently they were hungry, and at the time he shot had been trying to creep up on the animal which they yearned to make a meal from.

Jerry mechanically threw out the empty shell, and pushed another into the chamber of his gun.  He saw the pack bolt forward, heard the wild clamor that marked their advance, and then caught the exultant strain in their noisy yelpings, as they pounced upon the slain deer.

The boy felt more indignant than alarmed.  That was his deer, for he had done the stalking up against the wind; nor was he at all disposed to allow those greedy curs a chance to tear the quarry to pieces in their savage way.

Jerry immediately hurried forward, ready to dispute the possession of the game.

He found the whole pack furiously tearing at the fallen deer, growling, and exhibiting all the savage nature of wolves.

When the boy shouted they looked up, drew back their lips and looked furious; but not one gave a sign of obeying him.

“Get out, you brutes!  Leave that carcass alone, will you?” he yelled, waving his gun threateningly.

As if they realized that this human creature meant to dispute their right to the royal dinner they had found, the four wild dogs started toward him.  They presented a terrible appearance just then, with the blood about their muzzles, and white fangs exposed.

Perhaps Jerry may have felt a shiver pass over him, but that did not prevent him from raising his gun and deliberately covering the foremost of the brutes.

Bang! went the gun.  Then arose a tremendous howling, together with furious snapping sounds.  The balance of the pack continued to rush forward more rapidly than before, leaving the stricken member to roll on the ground.

Jerry thought it high time he made an ascension, after the manner of that which had marked the alarm of old Toby at the time the wildcat invaded the camp.  But he wanted to use that other barrel the worst way.

Quickly covering the pack he pulled the trigger.  Then, without waiting to ascertain what the results might be, he started to climb.

This was no easy task, especially when encumbered with a gun, for he would not think of letting this precious ally go; but there was enough inspiration in the approaching yelps and growls of the wild dogs to spur him on to heroic efforts, and, as a consequence, he managed to get beyond their reach.

It was an old tree in which he happened to have sought refuge.  Just then, however, Jerry was not caring about that, for it was a case of any port in a storm; and as he said, “beggars should not be choosers.”

Quite out of breath, he clung to the rotten limb and proceeded to shout at the dogs so as to keep them there until he could find a chance to insert fresh charges in his gun, when he expected to take care of them.

“Hey, you with the collar, ain’t you ashamed of yourself to take to such a pirate life, when you once had a good home, I bet?  Say, ain’t he a jim-dandy of a big bouncer, though, and as strong as an ox?  I’d just hate to fall into his maw.  Now, hang around a few seconds more, and I’ve got a nice surprise for you.  If you ever knew what a gun is, I guess you’ve forgotten by now.”

In this strain he talked to them, and kept both dogs jumping up at him in the endeavor to get a grip.  Sometimes they brushed his dangling foot with their jaws, and at that Jerry involuntarily drew up a little.

When he had inserted the shells, he tried to get a chance to cover the big dog.  That animal, though, apparently suspected his purpose, and kept jumping about so wildly that it seemed impossible to aim at him.  The second brute had been wounded so seriously that it had crawled away, so there were now but two left.

Finally, seeing a good chance to knock over the smaller one of the pair, Jerry could not resist the temptation.

The animal may once have been a family pet, but a wild existence of some months, perhaps years, had taken him back to the wild state from which his ancestors had come ages ago.  He was a mangy-looking, dirty white brute, with eyes that seemed red to the boy in the tree.

At the report of the gun the animal fell over in a kicking heap, for the distance was so very short that the charge of shot had gone with all the destructive power of a “forty-four” bullet.

But something not down on the programme immediately followed.  The rotten limb upon which Jerry was hanging, unable to stand the strain of his weight and movements, gave way with a crash.

He felt a thrill of horror as he found himself being precipitated downward, knowing as he did that the largest and fiercest of the wild pack was still there, unhurt save in the way of a few stray shot that had flecked his tawny hide with tiny blood spots!