Though it lacks the bravura resonance of Independence Day, Bastille Day, or even Mother’s Day, Opening Day of the deer-hunting season is a special time in Blanco, Texas. Hearts pound, palms sweat, and at least one stomach flip-flops as the locals oil guns and double-check gear in anxious preparation. The nervous stomach belongs to John Marlin, Blanco County’s game warden. After 19 years on the job, he knows that anything can happen once the hunters sprint off the starting line, and that often enough whatever does will manage to complicate his life. Savvy as he is, however, Marlin is unprepared for the unsettling sight of the wounded man garbed in a deer suit or, later, for the frenzied gavotte of the huge white-tailed buck dancing about “like a kid on a pogo stick.” From there the plot thickens and darkens. Natural high spirits, it develops, did not explain the antic behavior of the white-tail, and when Marlin gets a fix (literally) on the actual cause, he guesses he has a major law enforcement headache to deal with. Good guess. The stoned deer prompts an unscheduled visit from some murderous Colombians, who in turn lead Marlin to the doorstep of rich, powerful, thoroughly crooked ex-lobbyist Roy Swank. Marlin goes after Swank and finally nails the viper, but not before he and his ladylove, Nurse Becky, experience open season the hard way.
Briskly paced, amusing, spiced with deftly drawn good-old-boy portraits: an altogether promising debut.