Tom Bark (the name has been changed to protect the veteran) served two tours in Vietnam as a marine. He came home and wanted to reenlist and go back. He said “I like killing”. Tom spent six months in a mental hospital and was discharged from the Corp. He returned to Vermont and started work with New England Telephone Company. This is where I met Tom as we were in the line crew out of Montpelier.
Tom is an avid hunter. He takes off the whole month of November and hunts in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. One Thanksgiving he was in Maine, driving to a special hunting ground early in the morning. He saw a BIG buck just off the road. So he pulled over and got out and watched the deer put his head down to eat some grass. Now it is illegal to shoot a deer before dawn and to shoot from the road. He leaned on the hood of his truck and shot the deer. His buddy said you “dummy” so he shot again thinking he called him a dummy for missing. What his buddy was saying is it is a dummy deer (maniacal). All of a sudden the “Christmas trees” (game wardens in disguise) all got up and walked towards him and game wardens came in their trucks lights flashing from both directions.
The wardens confiscated his gun and truck and took him off to jail. He used his “call” to have his wife drive up on Thanksgiving to bail him out. He lost his license for a couple years.
The next year his gun was going up for auction. He drove all the way up to Maine to buy it back.
Another time he told all of us that he shoots until he is out of ammo. Tom is not much of a sportsman. He also has a drinking problem (comes with being a vet). One night Tom was driving home with a deer in the back of his pickup, drunk, he ran off the road into a tree. He got out and walked home. Got his wife to go back and report the accident with her as the driver. Honesty never was his strong suit. I often wondered if he was a sociopath?
One more story he told us. He liked muzzle loading season. Another way to hunt deer. But he had no problem cheating. He lived in a big log home he built himself. Put out bushels of apples just outside his bedroom window and had it lit up with flood lights. One night he saw a trophy buck eating apples so Tom opened the window just enough to shoot through with the muzzle loader (old fashion single shot black powder gun) and shot the buck. The curtains had caught fire and the room filled with smoke. The smoke detector was wailing and his wife was cursing him while he put the fire out and opened the windows to clear the smoke.
Can you imagine Tom telling us linemen this story a few weeks later and not thinking it was wrong?
Tom was very forthcoming with his stories. He also swore that they were all true. Tom lived for the month of November and hunting season. He channeled his aggression into hunting. It was how he handled the horrors of war. Tom and I got along but had different ways of coping with our experiences.
I guess my point is that war does things to you and to some people it does something different. I did not enjoy killing anyone. Not even the guy who was shooting at me. I did it out of self defense. Tom and some others enjoyed it. He would have gone back again if they had not identified his mental health problem and treated him.
Tom completed his career with the phone company successfully. He found a way to deal with life. It is both sad and funny listening to Tom tell his stories. I respect Tom for his service, but disagree with his ethics.