(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Two men and their children—a nine-year-old girl nicknamed Andy and a boy, Mac, eleven years of age—go on a hunting trip in the Pennsylvania woods. They leave Andy’s home at dawn. Mac’s father, Charlie, objects to Andy’s coming along because of her age and because she will be the only girl in an otherwise all-male hunting party. Her father tries to conciliate Charlie by noting that animals—including deer, he hopes—seem attracted to Andy, and she is adept at handling a gun, although in target practice. Charlie is not reassured. They drive to an isolated location in the woods that Charlie and Mac previously scouted out as a likely deer-feeding ground. Andy arrives in a fairly congealed state, because the heater in Charlie’s vehicle is defective. Still, she carries a day pack, although smaller than the three men’s backpacks, and is to do more than her share of KP duties.

On the first day of the trip, while the three males lie in wait for game, Andy goes off to collect firewood, and she spots a buck and two does moving away. That night she and Mac share one tent while their fathers use the other. Mac teases Andy by baiting her with sexual and other matters, but the girl holds her own. For his part, Charlie has been ribbing Andy about her tomboyishness. Andy assesses them both as dumb. Her father tries to blunt their attacks by defending his “punkin” and “honeybun” despite her nickname.

The following day, Andy walks by herself some distance away from the resting threesome, in whose company she feels increasingly uncomfortable, after being subjected to a concerted assault by Charlie and Mac about being like a boy. Even Andy’s father concedes that her mother voiced a...

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