Hunters in the Snow by Tobias Wolff

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What happens in Hunters in the Snow?

"Hunters in the Snow" tells the story of Kenny, Frank, and Tub, three friends who go hunting in the woods outside Spokane, Washington. When they can't find any game, Kenny shoots a fencepost, an old farmer's dog, and then acts as if he'll shoot Tub. Tub shoots him first.

  • Kenny leads the group, verbally abusing Frank and Tub on a regular basis. Frank has fallen in love with a fifteen-year-old babysitter and is thinking of leaving his wife for the girl. Tub is fat. Kenny has no qualms insulting them.

  • On their hunting trip, Tub fails to alert the other men to deer tracks. Irritated, Kenny shoots a fencepost and a farmer's dog (at the owner's request) before turning his gun on Tub. Tub shoots first, only to find out later that it was a practical joke.

  • Tub and Frank call for an ambulance, but none are available. They put Kenny in the back of the truck, but don't know the way to the hospital. They stop twice: once at a bar, once to get some food. We never learn if Kenny makes it to the hospital.

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(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

A third-person narrative, “Hunters in the Snow” is the story of three men from Spokane, Washington, who go on a hunting trip. Kenny drives up on the sidewalk where Tub has been waiting for him and Frank for an hour; he would have driven his pickup over Tub if he had not run. They drive out to hunt the same patch of ground they unsuccessfully covered for the past two hunting seasons. The driver’s window of the truck has been broken out, and the wind and snow rush in.

Arriving at the site, Tub scouts one side of the river and the two other men take the other. Quickly winded by the effort of moving through the sometimes deep snow, Tub can only struggle to keep up and soon forgets about everything else. When Frank and Kenny cross over to Tub’s side, they see that he has walked over deer tracks and signs without alerting them. They heap more scorn on him, then follow the tracks until they come to a fence with a No Hunting sign. They hike back to the truck in order to drive to the farmer’s house to obtain permission to keep tracking the deer over the posted land.

Tub tends to wallow in the deep snow, sometimes breaking through the hard crust that supports the lighter weight of the two other men, but Kenny and Frank make no allowances for his relative weakness. Kenny rather transparently teases Frank about a baby-sitter, but Frank does not appreciate the humor and refuses to explain the situation to Tub. After they gain permission to hunt, a dog rushes from the house, but Kenny drops down to snarl, and the dog, intimidated, runs back to the barn.

Their hunt is unsuccessful, but as they walk past the farmhouse, Kenny suddenly declares his hatred for a fencepost and shoots it. He does the same to a tree, and when the farmer’s dog again rushes out toward the hunters, Kenny declares that he hates...

(The entire section is 852 words.)