The night before the big day (opening day is Christmas, but with guns) all hell broke loose. My truck got a flat, I picked up what felt like a head cold, the checkbook was empty, there was a power outage, and the formerly sunny weather turned into an ice storm (explaining the power outage). I didn’t sleep well and woke up aching, ill prepared, and in a foul mood.
Even so I tromped out to my new stand cursing under my breath at dark thirty. I managed to find it and climb the ladder without mishap. In my opinion flashlights are for pussies but the moon wasn’t out and I risked wandering lost in the forest spooking everything for miles. Good thing I’d stumbled into a small branch (with my face). That helped me mentally locate the stand.
Once inside I regretted not getting a scrap of carpet for the floor. (It had been part of my plan but I simply ran out of time.) Moving the chair (cheap plastic lawn furniture) even an inch reverberated on the drum-like flooring. I took off my hat and stuffed it under one leg. It helped. I stuffed gloves under the other legs and tried to hang up my “day pack”. That’s when I remembered that I forgot to install the hooks I’d bought. I dumped the pack on the floor, where it immediately got tangled in my feet. Leaning to untangle it I dropped my (unlit) flashlight. It whacked into the floor with a sound that I imagined shook the ground. Sheesh!
Finally, after ten minutes of frustrating noisy struggle in the pitch dark, I was sitting still. Whew.
It was almost “go time”; my rifle was loaded, the door was closed, and the three windows were open. (I had my doubts about the strange technological voodoo of actual windows. I felt they would diminish my vision, block my hearing, and probably freeze shut when the big moment came… which might not ever happen if the deer still smelled the “fresh” paint. Note; It didn’t smell like paint to me but I’m not a deer.)
The wind had died down but snow drifted lazily through the open windows. My teeth began to chatter. Sitting still in the pre-dawn gloom is cold! I had a spare hat but it was tangled in the day pack and I’d sound like a herd of wildebeest extracting it. I stuffed my nose and ears in my heavy overcoat and almost in my overshirt. I warmed up a bit.
Then I ripped a classic fart that when right through two layers of thermal underwear, was trapped my by waterproof overcoat, and routed, because life is like this, directly to my nose. Gaaak!
There are many many ways to stay humble. Farting in your own face is one of those things. It serves to reminds us we’re small and insignificant in a larger universe that might possibly wish us harm.
Good grief! I made another racket but found my “backup hat” and breathed free air.
It was chilly but dawn came as beautiful as ever. I saw nothing. Usually my redneck neighbors, better (or at least more experienced) hunters than I, greet opening day with a volley of gunfire. They’ve often been patterning bucks for months and drop the hammer at the first photon of sunrise. Not this time. Whenever it’s dawn on opening day and it doesn’t sound like an invasion something is amiss.
A shot rang out from miles away. Yeah, that’s the stuff… either it was opening day or someone had just tried to break into a barn and met the owner. I smiled, it was beginning. Then, nothing.
Over the next hour two more shots rang out in the far distance. Hardly the dozen per hour I hear some opening days. Clearly the hunting sucked. As for me I’d scarcely seen a squirrel, then again I rarely connect on opening day so that’s par for the course for me.
Part of being a hunter is patience. If you give up in the first few hours… you’re hardly trying.