After he cleaned out the organ cavity, all that was left was working the carcass down to manageable proportions. Since there was not much to work with, there was no point in hanging it up - within fifteen minutes he was stuffing six bundles of not quite boneless meat into his old ALICE pack. Each bundle was wrapped in surplus dot matrix printer paper he'd found sitting at the curb, still in the box, outside a foreclosure up in Radford. It never ceased to amaze him what people would still throw away, even after all that had changed.
Aaron dug a small pit with his folding shovel to bury the unusable organs and bones in - no reason to advertise his luck - and almost covered it back over before the socket gave on the shovel, leaving him holding a bare stubby handle. He toed the blade over so he could read the stamp on the back. Yep. Hencho au China. The empty handle followed the blade into the hole, but then both ended back in the pack after a moment. Americans didn't make shovels anymore, and crappy Chinese ones had probably quintupled in value.
The hike back to his truck was a little less than 8 miles, but Aaron took his time, mainly to avoid any human contact. Running across a wildlife officer with fresh venison and no tag was obviously not on the agenda, but dealing with anyone could lead to trouble, thanks to easy rewards for poaching tattletales. And pretty much everyone around here is broke, he thought. How any of them came up with the small fortune required to buy a tag was beyond him, but that was besides the point. It just wasn't worth the risk, especially because he wasn't a local. He could stay around here for the rest of his life, and he'd still be shunned like a leper. Marrying in didn't count. Nothing did anymore.