Eau de Goat
There’s a difference between the smell of an animal and the smell of an animal on you. Pronghorn antelope have a goaty, musky, virile stink. When a whiff wafts from an arroyo or the matted secrecy of a day bed, it’ll twist your neck and curl your nose. In such chance encounters the smell is fleeting. But immerse yourself in it as you approach a now still, and now still bleeding body, a clean bullet hole, like a lance wound staring at you. Have that stink crawl over you when you place your palms on warm hide before continuing with the dismemberment. Ride adrenaline to help you ignore the acrid musk as you slip a shamefully dull folding blade below a puckered asshole. Push deep. Circle it well. Don’t think about the intimacy when you slice behind penis and testicles, toss them into the tall grass, probe between the legs, find the sweet spot between skin and gut sac. Gut it now. Gentle. Slide a guiding hand under the skin and across the slick membrane that wants to bulge out in advance of the knife. Use muscle. Nothing delicate about forcing your way through ribs and collar bone. Carve muscle away until you find the trachea, rigid, iridescent, white. Its dead already. You’ve killed it already. Not doing any harm in cutting its throat. Dead already. You killed it. Don’t be dainty. Grab hold. Not an inch-wide windpipe but a handle now. Pull. Gotta carve that diaphragm away or you’ll make a mess for sure. Keep pulling. Keep cutting. See, you were too skittish with that butt hole. Gotta dig for it now or you’ll spoil the meat. Well done. It’s done. Clean. Empty. Gaping. Forget the smell? No. It’ll stick with you. It’s, part of you now.
* Excerpted and adapted from The Stink of Life, which originally appeared in the annual Expeditions and Guides issue of Gray’s Sporting Journal 2011.