The Hunting Trip
by  EJ

Sequel to: What Will the Day Bring?

All three Lancer’s made it to the line shack and so far Johnny hadn’t shot either his brother or especially his father - that had to be a good sign. 

‘Maybe this trip would work out after all.’ Johnny thought as he dismounted and headed toward the corral.

While Johnny took care of the horses, Scott went for water at the lake, and Murdoch organized the shack.  Teamwork Scott called it; Johnny called it Scott taking the easiest job. 

“Don’t overdo Boston, hate to see you too tired to get in some hunting tomorrow.”  Johnny called out.

Scott smiled and waved at Johnny as he headed to the lake.

Murdoch was grateful a few days with his sons.  This trip was going to mend some fences and give him a chance to get to know his sons, especially Johnny.  It seemed he always said or did the wrong thing when dealing with his younger son and this time he was going to listen instead of shout.

While he waited for Scott and Johnny to come in Murdoch cleaned the stove so he could start their supper.  Tonight would be special, it would be the first time it was just father and sons away from the goings on at the hacienda. 

Murdoch checked the supplies Maria had packed and found some chocolate cake and two pieces of apple pie with some cheese.  He smiled as he remembered Johnny saying cheese and pie is crazy.  Murdoch took comfort in how Maria always kept ‘her boys’ happy and was surprised she didn’t try to pack milk for her niño.

As he thought about the trip to the shack he wished Johnny had joined them and at least talked to them on the ride instead of constantly riding off, always using the excuse of checking the trail.  Murdoch chuckled to himself, ‘on the bright side Johnny hadn't shot him.’ 

He was sure if it had been just the brothers that Johnny would have ridden with Scott and they would have talked and laughed.  Well, they were here now and he was going to make the most of it.  The three of them becoming a family was the important thing to him and he wasn't going to mess it up.

Down at the lake Scott was so tempted to jump in after the long, dusty trip but he settled for a cool drink instead.  Maybe he and Johnny could get in a quick swim before supper.

The trip to the shack was uneventful; he and Murdoch discussed the ranch and cattle, and tried unsuccessfully to get Johnny to ride with them.  Johnny claimed to be too busy watching the trail. 'Yeah brother, you need a better excuse.  Probably figured if he didn't talk that he would avoid any disagreements.'  Scott smiled to himself, 'At least Johnny didn't shoot either of us.'

Johnny had finished bedding the horses, he made sure they were rubbed down good and gave them some extra oats. 

During the trip he had ridden off to as he claimed “check the trail” but really it was he didn’t know what to say to them.  He was still uncomfortable trying to fit in as the ‘patron’s son’ and having a brother, damn didn’t see that coming.   Well time to make nice with the ol' man, Johnny patted Barranca and headed for the shack.

Johnny saw smoke coming from the chimney and hoped that meant coffee and something to eat because he was starved.  Scott claimed he was always hungry 'guess that's true' he smiled at the thought.  One nice thing about living at Lancer he never had to worry about getting enough to eat, Maria and Teresa made sure of that.  Even the ol’ man didn’t seem to mind how much he ate, hell he was always askin’ me if I had enough.  Kinda nice Johnny thought.

When Johnny entered the shack he saw Murdoch at the stove stirring something but at least the coffee was ready and hot.  He grabbed a cup and headed for the pot, "Anyone else want a cup?"

Scott shook his head and held up his half empty cup.  "Johnny, how about a quick swim before supper?  The water looked refreshing and we can wash off some of the trail dust and grime.  I would prefer eating after I’m clean.”

It never ceased to amaze Johnny how many words it took for Scott to say something simple.  Why not just say ‘let’s go for a swim’ short and sweet.

“What do you say Murdoch, ya up for a swim?”  Johnny asked his father and sat the empty cup on the table.

“No you boys go while I finish supper but don't take too long.”

“How long, sir?”

“About half an hour.  Have fun.”  Murdoch smiled, Johnny had actually asked, he thought that might be a good sign.


Murdoch sat on the porch so he could keep and eye on the stew he had simmering on the stove.  He listened to the laughter as his sons played in the water; he decided he would join them the next time and hoped he was asked again.

Finally the boy's headed toward the shack, laughing and tussling with each other.  "Hey Murdoch, ya should've come with us the water sure felt good." Johnny shook his head and sprayed Murdoch with the cold water.

"Thanks Johnny but I'll wait till tomorrow." He used his neckerchief to wipe the water from his face.  Murdoch loved it when Johnny turned into a kid.

"Supper's ready, you boys hungry?" Murdoch asked.

"Johnny's always hungry, as a matter-of-fact I don't believe I've ever known him NOT to be hungry." Scott announced.

Johnny rolled his eyes at his brother, "Funny Boston."

Murdoch laughed and headed into the cabin, followed by his two boisterous sons.

Supper was filled with bantering between Johnny and Scott and lots of laughter, Murdoch sat back and enjoyed watching his sons.  Both boys were thrilled when they saw Maria's dessert contributions.

"Cheese on a pie is crazy, don't know about ya'll."  Johnny drawled and shook his head, "Now chocolate cake - all that's missin' is milk."

After supper Murdoch pulled out a bottle of scotch and a bottle of tequila, "How about a drink before bed?" he asked as he reached for glasses and poured the drinks.

"Yes Sir.  Perfect ending for a superb meal, thank you." Scott took the offered glass.

"Yeah Murdoch, sounds good." Johnny took the tequila.

"So hunting tomorrow morning or fishing?" Murdoch asked.

"I ain't fishing, hunting first then while I'm havin' a siesta ya'll can fish." Johnny downed his drink and got up, "I'm turning in, been a long day.  Good night."

Johnny left the two bunks for Murdoch and Scott and instead rolled out his bedroll in front of the fireplace.  He pulled up the blanket, rolled to his side, and let the heat from the fire and the tequila relax him.

Murdoch and Scott sat quietly nursing their drinks, then Murdoch whispered, “I’m glad we made this trip, I have wanted some time with you boys.”  Murdoch took another sip of his drink, “Hunting and fishing like we should have been doing all those years.  All the things I wish I had taught my sons.”

“I know, I wish it too.” Scott whispered.

Murdoch nodded his head.

Scott finished his drink and tried to lighten the mood, he whispered to Murdoch, "I think today went well, he didn't run off and leave us.”  Scott smiled and continued.  “Well at least when he did ride off he always came back, and more importantly, he didn't shoot us.”

Murdoch nodded again and whispered, "Yes, it was a good day.  Well I'm turning in too goodnight son."

"Goodnight sir, see you in the morning."

"Hey, I'm trying to sleep." Johnny drawled. "And just cause I didn't shoot today…" he left it hanging.


The aroma of coffee, eggs, and bacon woke his sons, "Good morning boys, how did you sleep?"  Murdoch poured the coffee and nodded them to the table.

Johnny yawned and rolled off his blankets, "I slept good after you two stopped yapping."

"Yapping, I take exception to that statement, Murdoch and I do not YAP we discuss.  You on the other hand little brother do yap."  Scott pronounced he sat at the table and lifted his coffee cup.

"I don't yap." Johnny pouted at his brother.

"Settle down boys and eat your breakfasts we have a busy day planned."  Murdoch dished out the food and tried not to laugh at Johnny's little-boy pout.  He was anxious to start his day with his boys.


Most of the morning Murdoch and Scott followed Johnny as he tracked a deer through the trees.  His younger son never ceased to amaze him, the boy had so many undiscovered talents.  Johnny could read signs and tracks like most men read a book and he moved like a big cat as he prowled the woods. 

Finally they saw their quarry and Johnny motioned for Murdoch to take the shot.  This surprised Murdoch that Johnny wanted him to bring down the buck, it made Murdoch feel good inside.


While Scott and Johnny dressed the deer and packed all but a few steaks for the trip to the hacienda, Murdoch went into the shack and made coffee.  That done he went back outside, sat on the porch, and looked forward to venison steaks for supper.

“Hey Murdoch ya going to sleep on us?” Johnny drawled.

When Murdoch opened his eyes he saw two very messy young men, “I made coffee but I suggest you two get cleaned up first.” he smiled at how young both sons looked in their dirty state.

“Yeah, we’re goin’ down to the lake, ya coming with us this time?” Johnny asked and Scott nodded in agreement.

“You two go on I be down in a few minutes.”  Murdoch said as he headed into the shack.  He was grateful Johnny had asked him again.

Leaving a trail of dirty clothes in his wake Johnny striped as he headed for the lake.  “You comin’ Boston?” he called just before jumping in the water.  Scott shook his head at his brother but thought the splash was impressive.

Scott carefully removed his clothes and rinsed them in the water, and then he draped them over some bushes before jumping into the lake.  Deference to his father who would be joining them Scott wore his long-john bottoms unlike his, totally lacking modesty, little brother.

As Murdoch walked to the lake he smiled when he found Johnny’s trail of dirty clothes, and then Scott’s clothes rinsed and neatly hung in the bushes.  He shook his head, Johnny was so carefree and…

Murdoch's jaw dropped when he saw his younger son’s bare bottom as he swam to the shore.  “Johnny, where are your long-johns?”  Murdoch called.

“Don’t have any, there ain’t any women around so don’t need them.” Johnny smiled and stood at the water’s edge then shook like a dog spraying Murdoch and Scott with the cold water.

Scott looked at Murdoch and shrugged his shoulders, “Don’t expect miracles Sir.  You may get him the wear the hated nightshirt or long-johns when he’s sick and women are around but here…choose your battles.”

Murdoch stared open-mouthed at Scott, and Scott tried not to laugh.  “Care to join us, Sir?”

Shaking his head in surrender, Murdoch removed the robe covering his long-john bottoms and headed for the water.  After all it was…well he was still getting used to Johnny's lack of modesty.

The three of them swam for ah hour then sat on the shore to dry off.  Johnny grabbed his dirty clothes and began rinsing them out.  He wished he had done that earlier, now it would take awhile for them  to dry.

“I’m ready for some steaks, how about you boys?”  Murdoch asked after Johnny finished hanging his clothes near Scott’s.  Then he grabbed his robe and tossed it to Johnny, “You might want this.”

Johnny smiled, “Thanks Murdoch wouldn’t want to risk droppin’ something in my lap durin’ super.”  Johnny laughed at Murdoch’s expression and Scott hid his smile behind his hand.


"Not bad Murdoch." Johnny rubbed his full belly.  "Maria know ya can cook this good?" he winked at Scott and they both grinned at Murdoch's pretended scowl.

"What made you think I can't cook, I'll have you two know not only can I cook but I've been taking care of myself for a long time." Murdoch raised his glass to his sons.  "Thank you for today sons."

Both boys raised their glasses but Scott was the first to speak.  "To us."

Not to be outdone Johnny clinked Murdoch's then Scott's glasses, "Yeah we're something special ol' man and you're lucky to have us."

Murdoch sputtered and nearly choked on his drink while Scott burst out laughing.

"What's the matter ol' man?" Johnny grinned and downed his drink.

Murdoch sat back and tried to scowl at his errant son but gave up and joined Scott's laughter.  "Well boys I AM lucky to have you both home.  Today was the best time I've had in a long time, thank you sons."

"Well don't know about ya'll but I'm turnin' in.  Night." Johnny got up and rolled out his bedroll in front of the fireplace and sat down Indian style.  "Hope ya'll ain't gonna yap all night." He said around a big yawn then he laid down, rolled over, and pulled the blanket up to his shoulders.

Murdoch and Scott grinned at each other, "Okay son, good night."

Before he fell asleep Murdoch looked at Scott then over to Johnny, he was so thankful for today.  He had managed to do it right this time-no fights.


The aroma of bacon and coffee woke his sleeping sons, "Good morning boys, how about some fishing this time?"

"Not me." Johnny mumbled from his cocoon.

"Sounds good to me." Scott poured coffee into the cups on the table.  "Johnny do you plan on eating with us?"

"Yeah, yeah, I'm getting up." Johnny grumbled as he stood up, and then threw his blankets in the corner. 

“I ain’t fishin’ but I’ll do a little hunting’ in case ya’ll go bust on the fishin’.”  He laughed at the disgruntled expressions on his father’s and brother’s faces.  “And I’ll be bringing the meat for supper.”

“We will be providing a fish dinner this evening little brother.”  Scott announced.

“Care to make a bet on that big brother?”

“Since you will be hunting and not shooting at the fish I think we should make a wager on who provides dinner.”  Scott winked at Murdoch.

“Hey Boston, does that mean ya wanna bet?  Sure wish you would just speak plain instead of usin’ so many words.”  Johnny grinned at his brother, he loved teasing Scott.

“What kind a wager ya talkin’ about?”  Johnny knew it was best to get all the details up front before going into anything.  Old habits saved him before.

Murdoch brought the coffee pot to the table, “Well what does the winner get?”

“How about the winner gets to sleep in for a week while the loser takes on the extra work.” Johnny was already planning his late breakfasts after sleeping in, this was a sucker bet with his big, wise-assed brother.

“What do you think Murdoch?” Scott asked.

“Sounds like a bet to me.”  Murdoch grinned at his sons and knew each was planning their tactics.

“Yes Sir, it does.” Scott held out his hand to seal the bet with Johnny.

After breakfast Johnny saddled Barranca and set out for some fresh game.  He didn’t want to settle for a rabbit, maybe a wild turkey.

Murdoch and Scott gathered their tackle and headed to the lake. 
“Well son, at least we won’t having Johnny shooting into the water.”  Murdoch chuckled as they sat on the bank and cast his line into the water.

“I can’t help but wonder if he is up to something, you know how devious he can be.”  Scott grinned and cast his line.

Both men were enjoying just sitting together.  Murdoch and Scott’s relationship was easy and companionable, they had so many things in common.  Murdoch just wished he could sit like this and enjoy being with his younger son, it would make life easier at Lancer.

After several hours Murdoch and Scott decided they had sufficient fish for supper.  Scott felt confident he would be sleeping in for a week.

“I’ll clean them if you want to start some coffee.  Then I think we should just relax while we wait for a certain dark haired cowboy to show up.”  He couldn’t wait to see Johnny’s face.

“That sounds good to me, son.”  Murdoch walked back to the shack while Scott cleaned the fish. 


Johnny couldn’t believe it, where the hell was all the game.  He never before had this much trouble finding something to shoot. Guess he was doing too much thinking and not enough watching for trails. 

He was thinking that this trip wasn’t a bad as he expected.  Murdoch wasn’t yelling, hell, he even went swimming with him and Boston.  Sure the ol’ man was a little surprised about the naked swim but didn’t get on my ass about it.  Johnny laughed out loud at that thought.  Must be gettin’ all mellow like Boston says.

Barranca was showing his displeasure, “I know you’re just as tired of this as me.” he rubbed the golden neck.

‘How the hell can I go back empty-handed, Dios, I’ll never hear the end of it from the ol’ man and Boston.’ Johnny thought as he continued to look for some current sign or track. 

After several hours Johnny and definitely Barranca were ready to call it quits.  “Well boy I guess I gotta face ‘em and head back.”

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad losing the bet with big brother. 


Johnny rode up to the shack and bedded down Barranca, he even gave his amigo some extra oats to make-up for the long day.

When he entered the shack Murdoch and Scott were sitting at the table playing cards and drinking coffee.   They looked up and smiled when they heard him enter.

“Well Johnny, what did you bring for supper?”  Scott smirked at his empty-handed brother.

“Alright you win, I didn’t find anything.”  Johnny held up his hands. 

Murdoch and Scott just smiled at him, “Don’t worry little brother Murdoch and I have plenty of fish for supper.  We won’t let you go hungry.” 

Johnny knew Boston was going to rub it in for awhile, so he let Scott have the win.

During supper Scott and Murdoch regaled Johnny with their fishing success, and offered their sympathy for Johnny’s lack of success.  Johnny secretly enjoyed listening to them talk about their day even if he thought fishing was boring.

After they had cleaned up the supper dishes they sat at the table and enjoyed their drinks.

“So what really happened?  I can’t image you not finding some game, especially after the way you tracked that deer.”  Scott asked.

“Well…” Johnny dropped his head and shyly answered.  “Well I was doin’ too much thinkin’ and not enough lookin’.”

“Thinking about what, son?” Murdoch asked and hoped Johnny would answer him honestly.

“Thinkin’ about us, ol m...Murdoch.  I guess you know I wasn’t too happy about this trip with the three of us, but ya know it ain’t been so bad.”  Johnny looked up to see his father reaction.

“I know Johnny, but I also know this is the best time I have had in a very long time.  Thank you boys…”  Murdoch choked up.

Scott felt compelled to say something.  “This trip has given us a chance to be together without the ranch duties hanging over our heads.  I think we need more of these get-aways.”

“I agree.  We haven’t really talked things out and maybe we don’t have to this time.  Just being here, being a father and sons doing things for fun is enough.  It’s something to build on, if you boys are willing.”  Murdoch waited expectantly for a response.

“Yes Sir, I agree.”  Scott smiled at Murdoch.

“Yeah, me too.”   Johnny smirked.  “Hey Murdoch, since I’m gonna be doin’ extra chores for a week maybe we need to be plannin’ our next trip.”

Murdoch chuckled, “I’ll think about it son.”

“Well we better turn in since we will be heading back tomorrow morning.”  Scott stood up and patted Johnny on the back.

Johnny and Murdoch sat at the table while Scott undressed for bed.

“Hey Murdoch…” Johnny cleared his throat, “Um...I...ah...I just wanted to thank you for bringing me here and givin’ me a home.”

He held up is hand when Murdoch started to say something.

“I know we have some problems but I want you to know I’m really tryin’ to fit in, it’s just hard.”  Johnny bowed his head, “Ya think ya can give me the time?”

Murdoch reached out and cupped Johnny’s chin in his big hand, he pushed his boy’s head up and looked him in the eye, “Yes son, I can give you the time.”

Scott laid in his bed and listened to his father and brother come to terms.  He smiled and turned over and knew tonight he would sleep good, they were a family.  This has been a good trip.

Murdoch climbed into his bunk and sighed.  He was so glad he asked to come along.  Now he had his sons back and he would never forget what he learned on this trip.

Johnny rolled out his blanket near the fireplace and laid down.  Tonight he didn’t need the fire to keep him warm, he had his family.

He grinned to himself and closed his eyes, yeah this trip wasn’t the fuck-up he imagined.

The End






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