[Editors note: previous posts in this series were titled “I’m Back”. Lame! I went back and re-titled them.]
Dr. Mingo arrived, banjo and all, via the ritual torture called commercial airline travel. I was the extraction team. I swooped into the busy urban terminal driving a filthy truck and wearing a battered hat that said “Death Wish” (link). I savored disapproving glances from the other travelers. Dr. Mingo was waiting and I hailed him by shouting “did you bring the banjo?” More glances. Within seconds we were back on the road. We’re both probably on a banjo related TSA watchlist.
We rocketed through the multi-hour drive to my hinterland outpost but arrived late. I’d been on the road all week and didn’t even unpack my luggage. Mingo had been working overtime right until he stepped on the plane. We were both beat. Someday I’ll start a vacation rested… maybe next year.
There was scarcely time for a few hours’ sleep before the alarm clock went off. I hate alarm clocks. I hate mornings. I hate alarm clocks in the morning. Dr. Mingo is a morning person and was chipper. Mutant! I grumbled angrily as I marched at zero dark thirty into the forest.
While I fumed about the hour, Dr. Mingo had his own concerns. Somewhere along the way his scope got jostled. He fretted over this while I offered encouragement; “ain’t my problem, good luck”. The scope looked fine to me. It wasn’t loose at all. He was overreacting. Plus, what the hell are ya’ gonna do an hour before dawn?
I left him sitting under a tree, in the dark, in a place he didn’t recognize, along an unmarked path. Mighty trusting. Maybe I’d left him near a deer trail. Maybe I’d left him in a minefield. Luckily, I’m a good host and had parked him in the best spot I could identify. I settled in several hundred yards away and promptly fell asleep. The deer showed more common sense than us and slept in.
Hours later the sun came up and that brings you back to the part of the story I posted a few days ago. (Telling a story in simple chronological order eludes me.)
As we drove to town I did NOT turn on the radio. I didn’t get any news from the waitress. I avoided anyone that looked talkative. I was not about to get sucked into the election day vituperation.
Back in the woods the weather was sunny but cold. The wind wasn’t doing us any favors either. Several times I suggested that we “pansy out” because I figured the deer weren’t moving. Dr. Mingo is made of sterner stuff and talked me into holding tight all day.
Once I glanced over and saw him fiddling with his cell phone. Consorting with the enemy! “Are you checking the news!?!” I demanded. (Freebasing news media was not part of the plan!) I snatched the infernal device from his hands. It wasn’t Fox or CNN or Facebook… it was an image of some woman’s rack defying gravity in a camouflage bikini. My brain melted. “Oh! Very well, carry on.” I handed the phone back. After several hours of staring at trees while Dr. Mingo happily browsed through all sorts of wonderful images I began to crack… maybe I need a better phone. I snoozed again; dreaming of women in camouflage bikinis.
There was a little woodland activity but no deer. Just the usual; monster woodpeckers, irrationally pleasant songbirds, chipmunks that sound exactly like a walking deer, and squirrels that may be lesbian and possibly wielding mind control technologies.
Shortly before sunset we shifted positions. Magnanimously, I offered Dr. Mingo could take over a ratty, home built, deer stand that I affectionately call “the junk heap”. The “junk heap” is decrepit, rotten, and loaded with nails that exist only to draw blood but it’s ideally located. It’s my place of highest success. In particular, it’s best at sunset (it’s only marginal at sunrise).
Since Dr. Mingo hadn’t hunted in this area I kindly offered some local advice before he ascended the rickety mess. “You’ve got an either sex tag and my freezers aren’t as full as I like. Also, everyone in the county (myself included) takes a hell of a toll on the bucks. This isn’t a good place to find a trophy. If you see a doe take the shot. If you see a spike horn take the shot. If it has fur and it’s bigger than a Greyhound take the shot. Don’t hold out for a buck because you’re not going to see one.”
Secretly I didn’t expect to see anything given the gusty wind.
There are many different kinds of hunters. Some like adventure, some seek trophies, I’m in it for the meat. Bucks are impressive but you can’t eat antlers. A nice fat doe in the freezer is all I need. I felt sorry for Dr. Mingo. He had visions of a trophy buck and they just don’t happen around here.
I took over a tree stand some distance away. This spot is an experiment. Weeks ago, in a fit of optimism, I’d bought the stand and worked myself to the bone hoisting it into an oak. It seemed rock solid when I installed it but felt like a rickety deathtrap in the wind. From a hunting point of view it was perfect. From a “not falling on your head” point of view it sucked. Swaying like a pendulum didn’t help my concentration and I botched the stifling process of putting on the safety harness. If I fell, I’d be strangled. My corpse would wind up upside down. At least someone else would have to tear down the temporary stand. I pined for the “junk heap”.
Nothing happened for hours. The wind continued and I alternated between wondering if I’d freeze my balls off or I’d fall out of the stand. Around sunset I texted Dr. Mingo. “FUCK THIS. NO DEER WILL MOVE IN THIS WIND. LET’S BAIL.”
There was no answer. Even the squirrels and songbirds had sought shelter from the wind. The forest was dead. “He’s probably leering at hunter babes” I thought jealously. After five minutes with no response I reached for my phone and…
Huh? No shit.
I stand corrected. Surely Dr. Mingo had just clocked a fat doe. I know the guy. He doesn’t miss. The first shot put it down. The second was just insurance. Both Dr. Mingo and I take immense care when shooting. I’ve missed twice in the last 15 years. He’s a better shot than me.
I sat tight but saw nothing. The sun set and soon shooting hours were over. Dr. Mingo had connected while I’d seen squat. The deer (or at least a deer) had moved in this wind. I was super wrong.
(More in my next post.)