Conditions the next day were wonderful. The weather was favorable and we saw glimpses of deer here and there; just enough to convince me we weren’t wasting our time.
Unfortunately, the outside world was relentlessly intruding. Dr. Mingo’s phone leapt from his pocket every few minutes to dump new atrocities from Facebook into his head.
“They’re rioting in Portland!” He fumed.
“That’s why I don’t live in Portland.” I reasoned.
A truth I’m only gradually understanding is that whiners faffing about for stupid reasons is not my problem. Moreover, thinking about it is not my responsibility. I don’t know why I ever thought it was?
I’ve nothing against Portland. Powell’s books, good beer & coffee… I hope the place thrives. But if they’re intent on screwing themselves, why should that rest on my shoulders? If I mess up with a chainsaw and drop an oak on my truck is that their problem?
Facebook (and other media) obfuscate the irrelevancy of recreational protests. Screaming fools don’t have the slightest influence on the chickadees in a spruce bow. Goods and services emanating from socialist asylums are increasingly irrelevant. Who cares about gay wedding cakes, bad music, inaccurate reporting, crime, and whining? Tangible components of civilization like spark plugs, power generation, food, diesel, beer, and bacon are more important. The hobbies of tattooed potheads fade compared what matters. Thus, I’m learning to avoid entertaining nitwit behavior as if it’s relevant.
Protests seem oddly masturbatory. Everyone protesting in Portland already voted for The Felon. Didn’t she win Oregon? Congratulations protesters, you successfully voted and registered your desires, that’s all you get in the real world. What’s left to get upset about? That they lost? Do they really want the violent overthrow of a lawfully elected president? If so, why are they protesting in their backyard? Why not a place Hillary lost? Texas perhaps? Until baristas and unemployed poets take effective action they’re just theatric nincompoops. Show some initiative. Get in their one operating vehicle and carpool to D.C.? But then they’d do what? Overthrow “the man”? Who’s “the man” and is that their end game? That’s the point; they don’t have the slightest clue what they want. They just prefer “protesting” to “adulting”. I get it: “adulting” sucks; going to work, paying taxes, changing the oil, fixing leaky pipes, raising kids, washing dishes… it’s hard
I berated Dr. Mingo; “put that goddamn phone away, it’s heroin with a battery.” It was no use. Dr. Mingo tried to ignore his phone but the infernal device rang; someone called with “have you seen what’s on the news?”
I heard about it from Mrs. Curmudgeon too. She reported mass crying among certain crowds. Really? I understand sorrow. Nobody likes to lose. But crying? I’d planned a shopping spree if Hillary won. It would be expensive and probably futile. It was my best guess as to what I’d need as we continued Venezuelan-izing the nation. Given the Hairball’s win I got to avoid the expense. Had it gone the other way I wouldn’t cry. Who cries?
I fought it off and returned to reality. The wind shifted and a squirrel rustled leaves in a way that sounded like a deer. The game was still afoot.
We hunted all day and accomplished nothing. “Nothing” isn’t a fair description. Hunting is such that you’ve absolutely failed at a major objective right up into the moment you succeed.
Eventually it was sunset. Dr. Mingo was in a tree several hundred yards away and I was in “the junk heap” (the rickety stand from which Dr. Mingo had spied a buck days ago). Maybe this year would be a wash. Last year I didn’t connect either; 2015 was ruined by “The Patchouli Incident”. My fault! No excuses! I suck.
I sighed, two years without a deer in the freezer? The sun was down; still light to see but time was short.
Holy shit! A nice buck materialized in the brush. Don’t see them often. Mingo definitely made a clean miss. This was obviously “his” buck.
My pulse doubled and I felt the adrenaline surge all hunters know.
I like to wait. Wait as long as I can. Take all the time in the world to aim. Savor the last minute of the hunt. (Sometimes this bites me on the ass!)
“Mingo, is gonna’ be crushed.” I thought.
A friend, a good friend, a really extremely amazingly awesome friend… would let this buck walk in the hopes Mingo would get the shot he craved. Jesus man, was I really thinking that?!?
There was a doe deeper in the brush. No chance at the doe.
The light was fading fast. I dialed down the power on my scope and it was plenty bright enough. I love my scope! I had slightly lighter bullet weight than usual and the buck was heavier than my usual does. Bullet placement is everything, time to put up or shut up.
I flipped off the safety. Took a breath. There was no more time to wait for the doe. Sorry Mingo, the freezer calls. Better drop the buck hard, the moon wouldn’t be up tonight and it would be a bitch to track.
Breathe out. Forget everything else. Squeeze.
The shot was true. I knew it as soon as the hammer fell. I watched carefully because there was no snow for tracking. The doe, much larger than I thought, tore off in my peripheral vision. Maybe Mingo would get her.
I needn’t worry about the lighter bullet. I’d connected well. The buck bounded straight up and came crashing down on his nose, but it quickly struggled to his feet.
I don’t like tracking. I cycled the bolt and aimed again. The buck bunny hopped twice more; I’ve rarely seen that kind of behavior. I must have hit something vital. I could put a round in his hind quarter; good target. But I waited. No need to panic and waste meat. He veered toward a nearby spruce and I got a glimpse of rear leg. I tried to take out the bony part. (A deer isn’t down until it’s really down.) The buck didn’t notice my last shot and disappeared from view.
I found him right behind that tree. I’d taken out a front leg, both lungs, and possibly the heart itself. (Hard to tell about that.) Bullet placement rules! There was a hole in one rear leg. No wasted meat but it probably didn’t matter much either.
Mingo heard my shot just as three does walked into view. One large and two small. All were legal. He was against a tree and couldn’t twist around enough to get a view of the large one. He drew a bead on a small one. New scope, easy close shot.
He hesitated. Too small. He had a few more days left to hunt. No rush. He waited until end of shooting hours and the large doe never presented a shot. All three wandered off.
By then I’d texted:
“I’VE GOT GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS.”
He waited for the next text…
“GOOD NEWS IS THAT I VERIFIED YOU MADE A CLEAN MISS OF THAT BUCK. BAD NEWS (FOR YOU) IS THAT I DIDN’T. SORRY.” (I wasn’t sorry.)
Life is like that. Mingo had his chance but I got the buck. He could have blocked the highway angrily demanding a recount, but that’s not what men do. Instead he grumbled most of the next day (which is what men do) before eventually admitting everything worked out as it should. He also helped me bring out the buck. I appreciated the help.
We hunted a few more days but weren’t overly motivated once the freezer was full. We got distracted fixing a broken garage door. As hunting seasons go… it was a good one.
P.S. Dr. Mingo wanted to point out he didn’t lift a damn finger while I was dressing it (and smiled and drank my beer while I was asses and elbows deep in blood and guts) because it wasn’t his buck.
My freezer is also full, but less drama. 1 hour in the stand, 2 shots, 2 deer. Easiest in years. Maybe Trump effect.
It’s guys like you that make me wonder why I suck so bad at hunting. It takes me several days (on average) to land a fat doe. Sometimes I get one on opening day and sometimes it’s at the last possible day of the season. Then again I savor the process.
I hunt with 18 other men and I see and kill more deer by far than all of them. Here’s why… they don’t fret as much as I do over a) their scent and b) reuse of stands.
Deer have better than us eyesight (refined to detect movement more than color/pattern), but noses like a bloodhound or feral hog. Only way you are outsmarting a deer when you are upwind of him is if you have showered that morning, washed and kept your clothes the right way, sprayed down with scent-away, and covered your breath (with a carbon mask) on the way into the stand and while on the stand. Yep, that’s a lot of trouble… but it’s worth it given the money we spend and the sore butts we endure. Good deer almost always circle around behind you if they are coming to your area of a reason (like a call, a rattle, a food plot, an attractant).
Get out of the big deer stands that the deer are used to seeing all year long. They know what and where they are so they can steer clear of them (unless they are stupid, in which case they aren’t 3.5 or older). I hunt on the ground and daily have doe within 100 yards of me. Put your back up against a big tree that sits just in front of a thicket or hill (so they can’t silhouette you). Hunt that tree for one or two outings only… then move downwind 40-100 yards to another setup. Long as you move like a sloth, you’ll be in the mix before you can nod off for the nap.
Here’s a something I wrote a while ago. Hope you enjoy.
*Each Year I Go Into the Woods*
A Poem, Quatrain, Ballad or something of the sort by: Jason Reynolds
Each year I go into the woods;
I tell others it is to hunt those deer!
The truth: it is to put my feet where grandfather stood
Find my soul and wrestle my fear.
Sitting on the ground, trying not to be found,
Melting into the solemn autumn, white flag on a big buck’s bottom,
Singular concentration trying not to blink wrong, the birds sing their song;
About the time the crickets cease, the sun’s arising and so is the peace.
The sassy doe with her inquisitive bow and teasing stomp,
Mere feet from me I find pleasure in her attitude;
Earthen air fills my lungs and my heart awakes to nature’s pomp,
The leaves float down to me here where lives all solitude.
My only quarrel is with the squirrels,
The only plight with the breeze that carries my abbreviated sneeze;
Eyes begin to droop until I see that majestic deer stoop,
And it is on again: me against him it is time to win!
Sneaky as can be the allusive antler carrier is a bruiser,
A mystical mammal showing only his face;
I work hard to beat him at his game but I am the loser,
Like my stress he’s disappeared and I am put back in my place.
Hunting is less and less about the actual killing,
More and more it is being with like-minded burley men who seek balance,
As we escape the chaos of life to rediscover it is well worth living.
Nature has no substitute: refreshment is found in the woods alongside man’s silence.
Holy shit, that’s awesome. Well written sir!
Would you like that to be pasted on a post of it’s own? I don’t think comments get as much play as a stand alone post. I’d be honored to post it and give you the credit for your great poetry. I’d say something like “A commenter named X submitted the prose I’m sharing below. Let’s give the fella’ a round of applause…” Someday drone delivery will allow us to buy you a cold beer but that time isn’t here yet. 🙂
It’s up to you of course but it’s a fine poem and deserves whatever audience I can offer. A lot of folks think hunting is just morons with guns shooting something dumber than a cow… it’s good to spread the word that it’s a lot deeper than that.
I won’t put it anywhere but comments unless I hear from you. Feel free to contact me by regular e-mail if you wish. Or just drop another comment saying “go for it”.
Go for it. I’m not an actual poet or professional writer (though I’ve done some copywriting), so don’t need exposure per se. Just got inspired on the deer stand one year after about morning five of sitting up against a tree. Normally takes me three days to unwind from the rat race. Having a writer of your caliber compliment me means a lot man. Right audience I guess. Thanks again!
I got buried in non-blog work so there’s a delay. It’ll probably go live tomorrow or Friday. Check back for it then. Enjoy whatever modest irrelevant exposure an immodest irrelevant blogger can provide.
My pulse rate quickened reading your description of the hunt. Well done.
And your comments on relevancy vs protesting are right on.
Thanks. Folks who don’t hunt have no idea how tense (and alternatively boring/relaxing) it can be.
You are such an asshole. Keep up the great work. Also, couldya post a pic of that buck? Your non-liberal hunting audience would like to see it!
Dr. Mingo has been after me to post a photo. My dog has been disagreeing on OPSEC grounds. I’ll let Mingo and the dog debate the matter and follow their joint advice.
I noticed you didn’t dispute Jason’s “such an asshole” claim… 🙂
Let’s ask your dog.
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