Wednesday, November 30, 2011


On Saturday, Hunter Man and I were driving to a store.  He had been talking about Metal Detecting (the hunting that he can do anytime, almost anywhere that there is a park, parking lot, or beach).  When, all of a sudden, he said, “I printed 35 of those maps today.”
What maps?  I found out that he printed the maps of all of the newly designated hunting units in the state of Utah so that he could start studying them to determine where the hunters would be applying for permits to hunt next October.  (It is November right now!)
He never stops thinking about it.  Never.  And he can start talking about it at the spur of the moment, shocked to find that I wasn’t thinking about the same thing at the same time!
Well, I have been thinking about the few times that I really carried a shotgun and gave hunting the old college try. 
We were living in Illinois at the time.  We moved to Illinois about 6 months after we got married.  We lived in southern Illinois and central Illinois for about 10 years, and spent another year or so in the middle of that time period living in eastern Virginia.

Hunter Man in Illinois
 If you think H.M. loved hunting while we lived in Utah, you probably won’t be shocked to know that he absolutely reveled in hunting while we lived in the Midwest and on the east coast.  Whitetail deer hunting lasted for about 3 months, and included tags for shotgun hunting and archery hunting.  And, a person could practically hunt right out their back door.  There were cornfields and woods surrounding almost every area. 
I remember his first hunting season in Illinois.  We lived in a trailer in a little town called Mascoutah.  (Funny that we were from Utah and moved to a town with Utah in the name)!  He came home one night after hunting and said that he had shot a deer right before sundown and couldn’t find it.  He enlisted his dad and me to go help him look for the deer.  We were out in the woods, in the dark, trying to follow a blood trail with flashlights.  I did not like the parts where we had to walk through the swampy areas and cross streams.  I was sure that a water moccasin snake was just waiting to bite me.  It wasn’t just my imagination though--H.M. actually warned me that it was a possibility.  Luckily, nothing bad happened and he found his deer the next morning. 
I just kept thinking the whole time, “This is so crazy, this is so crazy, why am I doing this?”  I guess it was because we were still newlyweds and I would do anything for my Hunter Man.
That is how I ended up giving real hunting a try—being willing to do anything for him.  Of course at that point, we had been married for about 4 or 5 years, but I still wanted to make him happy and he wanted me to do this so much that I gave it a shot.  Gave it a shot!
One year, the hunt began with sleeping in a motel in the same room with Hunter Man, his little brother, and his Dad.  I love H.M.’s Dad.  But, he usually snores like a chain saw with a stuck motor.  It was “clap-on, clap-off” all night long.  Even H.M., who has been known to snore himself, could not sleep.  So, he would clap his hands twice every time the snoring got really loud.  Then, Dad would stop for a few minutes.  It got to be hysterically funny as the night went on.  Clap-on, clap-off!”  All night long.
Then, we got up really early.  (Of course).  And walked through the woods in the dark with as little help from flashlights as possible.  Because we wouldn’t want the deer to be frightened away by the lights.  Better that I was afraid of tripping and falling!
And when the sun came up, I was amazed to see that my orange camouflage jacket was covered with black soot.  Apparently, we had walked in through a previously burned out area.  Nice. 

Then, I had to climb a tree with a tree stand.  Of course, I performed that feat in the dark, too!  And, I doubt that I was all that quiet about it.  So much for not scaring the deer away!  The tree stand is a 2 piece climbing/sitting apparatus.  The first moved up the tree hooked to my feet and then I used my arms to move the 2nd part up the tree.  So, I proceeded to raise the upper part as far up the tree as I could, followed by raising my feet with the lower portion up the tree as far as I could.  I did this until I was about 50 feet off the ground.  Not really.  I probably was about 6 feet off the ground.  But, it certainly felt like I had just climbed a tree that high.  Then, I had to secure the top portion around the tree so that I could magically turn around and sit on it without falling off the foot platform. 
Looking sexy in my 14 layers of coats and jackets!
The whole time I was accomplishing this daunting task, H.M. was standing below the tree watching, giving instructions, and encouragement.  I wished he could have just done all that work for me, instead of just watching me look like an uncoordinated--camouflage wearing--chimpanzee in a tree.  He didn’t really think I looked foolish.  He was proud of me when I reached my destination and was all strapped to the tree safe and sound. 

But, then, as soon as I was ready—he left me there, alone.  He went about a mile away to sit in his own tree.  Well, not really a mile, but far enough away that I couldn’t see him and he probably wouldn’t have been able to hear me if I called out to him.  Not that I would have called out to him.  That would have alerted the deer to my presence high above them in the trees.
As I sat there in that tree in the dark, early in the morning, it was surprisingly easy to fall asleep.  So I did.  Thank goodness I had my seatbelt on!  I had never slept wearing soot covered camouflage, strapped to a tree stand high above the ground before.  I was surprised that I was able to do it.  But, then again, I didn’t get much sleep the night before (remember the snoring!!)
I woke up to noises right under me and my tree stand.  I looked down and there were several deer just hanging out down there.  They all looked like does, but I thought I should get my shotgun ready just in case a buck decided to join them. 
Then the weirdest thing happened and I swear I do not know how it did.  The shotgun shells fell out of my gun onto the ground and scared the deer away.  It was so strange and unexpected.  But, then again—I loaded my gun in the dark after a strenuous tree climbing experience.  Not to mention the fact that I was not all that familiar with guns as it was.
Later, H.M. thought he should come to check on me.  He asked me if I had seen any deer and I said yes.  He was excited about that even though I told him they were all does.  Then, I asked him if he could look for my shotgun shells down there on the ground somewhere.
“You dropped your shells?  How did you drop your shells?”  Oh, I felt like I had committed the hugest hunting mistake—accidentally dropping the ammo out of my gun.  I was sure he thought I must have sort of dropped my shells on purpose so that I wouldn’t have to shoot a deer.
No, I would never do that!
Another time we were walking around looking for deer when I saw a nice buck almost right in front of us.  I whispered to H.M., “There’s one!”  He didn’t see it and told me to I should have just shot it, instead of telling him about it.  By then, it was too late.  I just didn’t have the right thought process.  I was used to just pointing out deer to him, not shooting them!

Dad with a Crab Orchard deer

Once, H.M. was walking through the woods trying to scare deer toward me and his Dad who were walking down a dirt road.  Then, we would be able to shoot them as they ran right in front of us.  Good plan.  Miraculously a buck really ran right across the road in front of us.  I wasn’t expecting it to actually happen.  But, when it did, Dad thought I should be the one to shoot it.  So, he and my brother-in-law both started chanting, “Shoot it, shoot it!”
Right.  By the time I raised my gun, did whatever I thought I had to do to get ready to shoot it without ejecting the shotgun shells, and tried to point it at the deer, it was looooonnnnnngggggg gone.  They couldn’t believe that I just let that buck get away. 
Ha ha.  Whatever.  I really didn’t let it get away.  It got away because they seriously thought I would be able to shoot it with one second’s notice.  It was nice of everyone to have such faith in me, but I would have rather just had Dad shoot the deer anyway.     
Dad, Little Brother, and Hunter Man
The last crazy thing that happened at Crab Orchard did not happen because I was supposed to be trying to shoot a deer.  H.M. had shot one.  I had to help him drag it across a plowed up corn field.  The ground was so uneven that every step I took made my ankle pop out.  (I had an ankle that needed surgery to tie my ligaments together to hold the bones in place).  I had to reach down and pop it back into place over and over again.  I seriously wanted H.M. to leave the deer there and carry ME across the field.  I was in tears by the time we made it the 5 miles that it took to cross that field (another exaggeration of course!)
The things I do..
This is what I liked about the times I spent not shooting deer at the Wildlife Refuge:  THE WILDLIFE!
There were thousands of geese there.  They would take off from the lake in the morning all at the same time, or land on the lake in the evening in large groups.  It was awesome to see and hear!  I really enjoyed it and could have watched those events over and over again.
I saw a beautiful eagle flying right above me.  A red fox ran right past me.  And one of the most interesting things I saw was a group of deer jumping into the lake and swimming across it to an island near the other side.  I had never seen anything like that before and probably never would see anything like that again.
Those things made all of the disappointing, crazy, and funny things that happened to me while hunting, worth it. 
Hunter Man with our little boy in 1987
And I hoped that H.M. knew how hard I tried to make hunting work out for me so that we could share his hobby together. 
He still wishes that I would hunt with him.
But, I don’t.

1 comment:

  1. I love the picture of you in your orange almost as much as I'm loving these stories. ~Heather