"A-Hunting We Will Go"
Season 3, Episode 8 (?)
Airdate November 18, 1991
Writer(s) Craig Volk
Director Bill D'Elia
Guest star(s)
←   Episode sequence   →
"Roots" "Get Real"


After grousing about the hunting frenzy sweeping Cicely, Joel sees firsthand what it's all about by outfitting himself to join Chris and Holling for the primal ritual in the wilds. However, Holling prefers the homefires to campfires. Meanwhile, back in town, Ed fears that Ruth-Anne is being stalked by the grim reaper.


In the early afternoon, Chris in the Morning is reminiscing about his hunting exploits as a child as people around town are in the midst of hunting season. Maggie drives into town with a ten-point buck tied to her truck, and Joel argues with her, obviously bothered by the hunting frenzy. Returning to his office, he examines Ruth-Anne, who is currently mending a broken foot. She tells Joel that Ed is helping her with work around the store so that she can allow her foot to heal.

As Joel leaves work that afternoon, he runs into Chris and Holling, who are making preparations for the next day's hunting trip. Holling is reluctant to be gone for more than one day, since he would rather be with Shelly. With honest curiosity, Joel asks what the attraction is to hunting. Chris explains that humans are, by nature, predators, and Joel asks to come along on the hunting trip so he can experience hunting firsthand. Chris and Holling reluctantly agree.

The next morning, Joel is in Ruth-Anne's store buying supplies for the trip. When Maggie hears that he intends to go hunting, she is surprised and a little pleased. However, she obviously believes that he will still hate it when he returns. While helping out at the store, Ed discovers that it is Ruth-Anne's birthday when she receives a greeting card from her son Matt. Upon finding out that Ruth-Anne is 75 years old, Ed starts to see her as near-death, and becomes overprotective. He barely allows Ruth-Anne to walk around by herself and treats her as if she were "made of glass". Ruth-Anne is not thrilled by his coddling and tells him to stop it.

Joel shows up to meet Chris and Holling in a bright orange vest and hat, and Chris and Holling are amused by Joel's lack of hunting expertise. Joel is getting psyched for the trip, and asks to see his shotgun. They leave, as Maurice acts as DJ at KBHR and talks about the joy of hunting. When they arrive in the forest, Joel learns how to "lock and load" his shotgun, and is exhilirated by the feeling of firing it. Chris advises him to wait so that he can shoot at a moving target, a prospect which delights Joel.

Holling flushes some grouse out and Joel fires, but misses, while Chris gets two. Holling wants to return home right away to see Shelly, but Joel is unhappy that he missed and wants to try again. Holling reluctantly agrees to stay another day and they set up camp for the night.

At Ruth-Anne's store, Ed expresses his concern for Ruth-Anne's meat intake, and is disgusted when she lights up a cigarette. Maurice enters to buy some supplies, but his conversation about death with Ed only makes matters worse, and Ed is more worried than before.

At two in the morning, Joel wakes up and tries to get Holling and Chris up for a day of hunting. Chris tells Joel that it is too early and advises him to get some sleep. However, Joel lies awake and comments about the primal roots of hunting and howls at the moon.

The next morning, after a word of advice from Chris, Joel tries again and wings a grouse. But when he finds it fluttering on the ground, he is unable to wring its neck and finish it off. The scene changes to Joel's office, where he, Chris, and Holling rush in with the bird on a stretcher. Joel frantically prepares for surgery.

At The Brick that night, Chris and Holling talk about Joel's psychic wound incurred from the gunshot blast. Maggie overhears their conversation, and is amazed to discover that Joel actually hit something. She visits him at his office, where he is vigilantly keeping watch over the injured bird. She tells him that a grouse's life is short, and he should let it die. When it eventually passes on, Joel's sadness turns to depression, and he ends up at home watching movies like Old Yeller and White Fang. Maggie visits him, and is for once sympathetic of his depression. Joel, in turn, admits to her that she was right about the joy of hunting; the killing was great, but he couldn't take the dying.

The next night, Ruth-Anne's car won't start, and Chris escorts her over to The Brick to get a jump start. When she enters, she finds a surprise party that Ed has organized, and receives presents from everyone. Joel is finally up and about again, and eats a bite of grouse, which he admits is actually good. He seems to have come to terms with the death of his bird. As Ruth-Anne finishes opening her presents, Ed gives her a jar of dirt, which is part of her present. The next day, the two visit a spot at the edge of a cliff, overlooking a beautiful forest tableau. Ed explains that he bought the plot of land for Ruth-Anne's grave. Ruth-Anne is at first shocked by the reminder of her death, but then thanks Ed for picking such a beautiful spot and allowing her a chance to dance on her own grave. As the camera pulls back, Ruth-Anne and Ed begin dancing happily on the plot of dirt.


Ed: What would you give a woman who doesn't seem to want anything?
Chris: Oh yea, the great question: what do women want?
Ed: I don't know, do you?
Chris: Same things we do, only in prettier colors.

Joel: (to Maggie) I definitely feel like I've been through something. The experience of hunting, it was great--it really was. Being out in the bush or whatever, the-the expectancy. The excitement. The total blood rush. And the killing. I mean, especially the killing. The killing was the best part. It was the dying I couldn't take.

(Shelly hurridely walks by)
Ruth-Anne: Hi, Shelly!
Shelly: Hi! Bye!
Ruth-Anne: Is Holling around?
Shelly: Maybe!
Ruth-Anne (to Chris): Y'know, sometimes her energy scares me a little.
Chris: Shelly? Nah, she just runs on an open circuit, that's all.
Ruth-Anne: But is her ground wire connected? That's my concern...
Chris (smiling): Right, right...

(Ruth-Anne opens Ed's birthday gift to her: a jar of dirt)
Ed:'s for your grave.
Ruth-Anne: My grave?! You bought me a grave for my birthday?
Ed: Do you like it?
Ruth-Anne: Yes...yes, I do, Ed. It's a great spot to spend eternity.



  • Chris' Uncle Roy Bower used to take him hunting in Wheeling.
  • In prison, Chris had a pure moment of direct insight into the divine nature.
  • Holling's been doing the "wild thing" (hunting) for 56 years.
  • Jerry Sweeny used to have an air rifle and wouldn't let Joel try it.
  • Ruth-Anne's Grandma Gert reached 99 1/2, but Grandma Ila never saw 50 (slipped while clogging; Grandpa Irv buried her in her clogs).
  • Ruth-Anne's last name established as Miller (husband Bill).
  • Shelly had a pet angelfish named Angel; she took her for a walk in a pickle jar and she died soon after.
  • Maggie brings home a ten point buck.
  • Marilyn's an angler.
  • Ruth-Anne has a hairline fracture of the fifth metatarsal.
  • Ed's working full-time at the store.
  • Ruth-Anne gets a card with a poem from her son Matt in Chicago (mergers and acquisitions; her other son, Rudy, is the poet).
  • Ruth-Anne's age is established as 75 (in dialog).
  • Ruth-Anne smokes one cigarette every hour. (This is in the Production Bible notes but in the episode "Ruth-Anne smokes one cigarette every two hours, but will never stop cold turkey.")
  • Holling's 63 (in dialog; already established in Vanity)
  • Holling's father died when he was 110 and his mother at 40 (but in "Dreams, Schemes and Putting Greens" (1-4), his father died at 104, grandfather at 106, mother at 42, and grandmother at 44).
  • Joel's first experience eating a patient ("the killing part was great; it was the dying part")
  • Shelly's earrings: a bunch of silver bells? (when Holling, Chris, and Joel discuss hunting in The Brick; silver belle = Ruth-Anne?), a bunch of fruit (watermelon, banana, and a leaf?) (Ed and Shelly discuss Ruth-Anne's age), black angelfish? (Shelly reprimands Holling in The Brick about being cheery when Joel is down), troll dolls sitting on pumpkins (Joel tells her the bird is dead), blue poofballs/pompoms (Ruth-Anne's surprise party)
  • Ed's T-shirts: Neil Young World Tour (with a peace sign), purple T-shirt dyed or bleached area across the middle


  1. John Hurley? Sharon Cash? Smoggy Valley Boys? Not Jack McDuff.
  2. Also in 3-3, 3-11, 3-20, 4-1, and 5-9.
  3. Holling and Chris talk about going hunting. Joel joins them in discussion and ends up wanting to join the hunting trip.
  4. Shelly and Ed talk about Ruth-Anne's age at Holling's.
  5. Shelly tells story about taking her fish for a walk. Ed looks for ideas for Ruth-Anne's gift. Maggie can't believe Joel actually shot a bird.
  6. Joel sadly announces that the bird has died. Shelly serves him Corn Flakes for breakfast after Holling suggests eggs.
  7. Ed and Ruth-Anne dance on her grave.