GIVING UP THE GHOSTS
Field & Stream|Volume 125 - Issue 3, 2020
A QUEST TO SAVE THE FAMILY DEER CAMP COLLAPSES WITH THE HOUSE THAT USED TO HOLD IT
NATALIE KREBS

WHEN I SEE THE OLD FARMHOUSE, THE guilt hits so hard I actually stop in my tracks—as if freezing will somehow check the feeling. But it doesn’t, and I make my way to the cracked concrete slab that used to be the front porch.

This visit is long overdue. I’m here to prove the deer camp still has some life left, but it’s not pretty. The paint is peeling, the roof is sagging, and the bushes are as wild as an old man’s eyebrows. The aura of abandonment is so strong it’s almost eerie. The front door remains locked, shut tight against the years. Someone has smashed the window beside it. I consider the glass hanging from the sash, then swing a leg over the sill and duck inside.

THE NEIGHBORS STILL KNOW IT AS THE OLD

Hawkins place, though it’s been in the Krebs family for nearly 30 years. It was my dad’s hunting camp when I was a kid, an ancient farmhouse he fixed up with his own father and brothers. But lately Dad’s been threatening to raze the place, calling it an eyesore and a liability. His various plots involve letting his Amish buddy dismantle it for scrap or setting fire to it, thereby giving the volunteer firefighters in town something to do. The most recent plan—to let the neighbor level it with a dozer—is the dullest yet, and it means he’s serious.

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