His father, his uncle, and their friends used to get up very early on Fall days and go hunting for deer.
The men wore bright red shirts because they did not want to be mistaken for deer and shot with rifles, or shot, period.
He understood that the difference in appearance between men and deer was more complex than the presence of a red shirt.
He also understood that men with rifles are likely to shoot the rifles at anything that moves as well as many stationary targets.
He grasped intuitively that wearing a red shirt had something to do with safety and improving one's odds of surviving a hunting expedition.
He did wonder, however, what the deer thought of the red shirts, whether the deer became more than a little depressed at the sight of the two-legged ones wearing red shirts in the colder season.
He liked sitting at the breakfast table while night still existed and listening to the red-shirted men munch bacon, slurp coffee, and discuss a variety of topics related to hunting. The men seemed ready for anything and in command of their lives. Some of these men had served in the U.S. armed forces during World War II. He hoped one day to be ready for something and in command of his life.
He liked going back to bed after the men had departed, the sounds of dogs and pickup trucks and voices disappearing, leaving the sounds of wind in pines and the muttering wood-burning stove. Sometimes he read a pulpy novel. Usually he just went back to sleep.
He did not like the idea of being a deer and getting shot or watching one of the herd-members bleeding to death in manzanita brush.
He liked the taste of fried fresh deer liver and deer heart, however, and he ate them without remorse.
He did not like the idea of killing deer. Leaving the deer alone seemed altogether more fair and less trouble than searching for them, shooting them, packing them, skinning and gutting them, and so on.
He liked the smell of a freshly skinned deer. The smell was rich and slightly salty.
He assumed one day deer-hunting would die out and the deer would not miss it.
He very much liked the idea of wearing a read chamois shirt--so soft and so bold the shirt was, so very ready for anything that might happen in the garment world, so very much in control of its dyed-fabric life.
As things turned out, he never killed a deer; in fact, he never tried to shoot one. A couple of times, while he was driving a car at night on swooping, curving, diving Sierra Nevada highways, the headlights of the auto he was driving seized the image of a deer running across the asphalt. He had always been able to stop in time, however, so he had never killed a deer by accident, even if he happened to be wearing a red shirt. He remembers eating the heart and liver of deer, even as this had occurred so long ago. He is not nostalgic for such fare. He remembers. That is all.