If some animals are good at hunting and others are suitable for hunting, then the Gods must clearly smile on hunting. ~Aristotle
This past Saturday, after attending the Pittsburgh for LegoFest, Kyle and I went back to my parents house to get in a few hours of hunting before nightfall.
Sitting in the woods reminds me of my first hunting experience ever. As far as I know, the funniest hunting story known to man, at least in my opinion. I couldn’t replicate even if I tried.
First, it started many, many years ago at 4:00 in the morning. Yep, that’s what time dad got everyone up. I had already taken my hunter’s safety course and I just turned twelve, or around there. Ryan wasn’t old enough to shoot a deer, but just like years past, he tagged along with dad and helped him gut and haul out the hunted. Nicole and I had our doe tags and naturally dad had his hunting licenses for several counties. I don’t think mom got her license that year, but she was certainly apart of the adventure. We suited up in the required orange outfits and headed out to the woods as a family.
The night before, mom instructed me to pack my lunch so it was ready, we all know I get hungry! And when I get seriously hungry and don’t feel good, I start to get cranky and thinking straight falls by the wayside. When it comes to hunting and all of dad’s outdoor activities, he could go all day without eating. He remains focused, never giving up a minute to do anything but hunt. Now-a-days dad’s softened up a bit. That morning, everyone ate breakfast, except me. It was too early in the morning to eat and I wasn’t hungry yet. To be honest, I don’t think I was fully awake. I don’t mind getting up early, in fact I prefer it, but at 4:00 am? Nope! Maybe 5:00 or 5:30 but 4:00 was pushing it. Unbeknownst to me at the time, that was my first mistake of the day. Not eating breakfast!
On a side note, here I am complaining that I can’t eat because it was too early and there are children starving all over the world. So shame on me. My thoughts and prayers go out to those I do not know who are suffering. Especially those who don’t have such a tight family as mine.
We filed into the truck, five of us and three rifles. Back then seat belts were not mandatory, at least not reinforced. To this day I still have no idea where dad took us, some foreign territory that he must have known to have prize size deer roaming around. Dad always knows all the hot spots to hunt and he has so many friends that let us hunt on their property. Having a lot of options, dad is very deliberate and methodical about his hunting locations. Usually before hunting season, dad will wonder around the woods to talk to locals to get a feel for the traffic patterns of the deer and the quality of the beasts. Like I said, dad is prepared and takes hunting very seriously, he leaves nothing to chance.
Once we got to the place we were going to occupy all day, we unloaded our gear. Really just shells and rifles. Dad passed out our rifles to me and Nicole. I didn’t think anything of mine until we started walking. Dad had us walking, in the dark, up a logging road for maybe about a mile or so. That wasn’t the worse part! My rifle didn’t have a shoulder strap! What? As we marched back I saw dad and Nicole carrying their riffles on their shoulders with ease. What the heck? Why did I get the rejected rifle? I asked dad why my rifle didn’t have a shoulder strap and he said it was an antique and it would devalue it. Basically, in dad’s eyes he was allowing me to shoot his coveted antique rifle. It was to be an honor. Me being a twelve year old, up at 4:00 in the morning and hiking up a hill, holding a rifle for a mile was not my idea of special treatment. I remembered saying something to Nicole, probably trying to trade with her, but she’s not stupid and wouldn’t give up convenience. I was on my own. It’s funny when I hear me talk about that, I kind of wonder if I sounded like Kyle, except I never whined as a kid or complained, so maybe not. Only because dad had a short temper and would have never put up with it like he does for Kyle now-a-days.
Finally, we reached our pre-plotted location. Mom and I planted ourselves on a log and Nicole was up the path somewhat on her own natural furnishing. I’m sure dad gave her instructions not to shoot down the hill in our direction, just like mom told me what area I was allowed to shoot safely. Nicole was maybe 200 yards away. We could see her, but then again we were in the woods, in the middle of winter, with no leaves on the trees, wearing neon orange from head to toe. I guess she would have been seen by a satellite in space.
By now the sun was rising and shedding light over the ground. Anyone that has gone hunting knows, it’s kind of exciting first thing in the morning. You’re totally awake, it’s a fresh day and the anticipated excitement is building. Mom and I sat on our log and that’s where it all began.
Unknowingly, we didn’t realize the log wasn’t very stable and as we sat, our make shift bench didn’t supply the intended support. Therefore, the log moved enough to throw us off balance and we both fell backwards on our backs. We couldn’t help but laugh at our comedy routine. It was hilarious, even to this day! What makes the entire event ten times better was Nicole’s reaction. When she heard us laughing, which I’m sure anyone in the vicinity heard our hysterics, Nicole yelled down the road asking what we were laughing at. My sister, who was nearly 200 yards away, was yelling in the woods to me and mom asking what was so funny? She did! That sparked mom and I to continue our fits of giggles, and I mean gut stretching, buckled over laughter! Then, topping it off, Nicole joined in on our humor by laughing with us! We had tears falling from our cheeks! It was too funny!
Well, it took us a while to come down from our laughing high, but we did regain our composure. Seriously, I was surprised dad didn’t hear us carrying on. Then, as mom and I sat there on our log, in the quiet woods, we heard a growl. No it wasn’t an animal, it was my stomach! At this point, it was around 9:00 am and I was hungry! To make it worse, every time my stomach growled, I fell back into a fit of giggles. At first mom didn’t find it amusing, but as my stomach continued moaning in hunger and as it grew louder, this situation became equally as funny as the log rolling incidence earlier. At one point mom said, “Where’s your lunch?” With my head hanging low, I said, “In the truck.” In a little bit of shock mom continued with, “Why did you leave it in the truck?” My logic, “I thought we were coming back to the truck for lunch. And I didn’t know dad was going to march us the whole way out to Egypt to hunt!” As I said those words, I realized I should have known better. Mom shook her head and stated the obvious, “Heather I told you to eat this morning and you know your father.” It was all true and fairly obvious, but it didn’t change my present situation.
I tried to ignore my stomach and my hunger, but the screams emanating from my empty stomach wouldn’t let me. By 10:00, or in that time frame my stomach was LOUD! Even mom, who was laughing along side me, was amazed at the vocal cords of my stomach. It was ridiculous. Then, carrying the same tradition from that morning, Nicole, who again was about 200 yards away yelled down to us asking what we were laughing at now. We lost it and busted into complete silent laughter. Leave it to mom to keep Nicole in the loop, she yelled up telling Nicole my stomach was growling because I was really hungry. That made it even funnier! Then to top off the morning, Nicole yelled back asking why I didn’t just eat my lunch. We were dying! That had to be the funniest comment! Ok, I’m sure to anyone else that wasn’t that humerus, but if you knew my sister and really understood the situation, you’d be dying too.
Shortly after my delirium had taken complete control, I had a glimpse of hope. The light bulb came on and I yelled up asking Nicole if she brought food. Notice, it never occurred to any of us to actually walk up to the person to have a conversation, instead we treated the woods like home and just yelled. I knew it was a long shot, but I was hoping for a miracle. Denied! Naturally, I am the only one in the family who gets hungry and needs to eat every hour. She didn’t have anything to eat and mom already told me she didn’t bring anything either. I know I was over exaggerating, but I felt like I was going to starve to death in the woods. I thought ‘This is my end and I’m going out wearing neon orange!’
Would you believe after all that ruckus and not long after we settled down and joined in on the silence of the woods, a deer walked out into the clearing and made its way to the logging road? Yes! Was this deer that unobservant? Who knows but I was on alert. Show time! I was ready with a loaded rifle. As the deer walked through the brush, I thought it was a doe. We were in buck season. Mom said, don’t make noise there might be other deer around. As I watched the graceful beast mill around, it made its way to the clearing on the logging road. What did my eyes see? Horns! It was a buck! Now anyone in this position knows the adrenaline pumping through the veins and the excitement and anticipation of the kill. My first deer season, my first buck, the first one to get a deer in the family. So much going on in my head before taking my shot.
Just then, as I brought my rifle up and found the buck in my scope, I took a deep breath before applying pressure to the trigger, feeling the release of the bullet toward my target. At that exact moment, the deer slid in the mud of the logging road, jumped up, and darted up and over the hill out of sight. What? Really? I literally just stood there in shock. Did I hit it? What should I do? Did that deer really just loose its balance and fall in mud on the same road I was made to hike up? Unbelievable! And I was still hungry! Maybe the deer sensed my hunger and knew I was ready to gnaw on a leg.
I turned to mom for some guidance just as Nicole joined in by yelling, “Did you get it?”. That’s my sister, never missing a beat! Mom and I walked down to the sight of the accident and found no blood. Shortly later dad and Ryan made their appearance. Dad tracked the trail of the escaped horned beast to find nothing. Did I hit it? Who knows. To this day, I swear I did and mom thinks I didn’t. I could have hit it in a non-vital area to later bleed out, or not at all.
As we stood there discussing and reliving the moment, mom asked dad if he brought any food with him. As I was chit chatting with Ryan and Nicole, who by now walked down to our location to join the family, my eyes became focused on something more important. As dad rummaged through his bag, I was completely distracted by the oversize candy bars surfacing in his hands! Yes! I felt like I struck gold! Food! Dad asked me where my lunch was, as I hung my head low again for not planning better while I told him. He rolled his eyes and didn’t comment. Without hesitation, I devoured those candy bars in seconds and was happy and ready for a nap. This is my segue to the events of the afternoon. Remember, everything outlined above was just the morning. We are now around lunch time.
All three of us went back to manning our posts, while dad and Ryan went back to pushing deer our way. After all the fun and excitement of the morning, the afternoon started to move slowly, meaning my attention span went back to zero.
Perfect example, Mom leaned over to me and said she had to relieve her bladder and I was suppose to man the post. No problem! As mom dropped her pants and was going to do her business, I found a flat rock to lay on, as I watched the fluffy white clouds float past in the brilliantly blue sky. To this day, I remember thinking to myself, ‘What a pretty day!’ before I was completely startled. A man walked right up to me and was staring down, upon my upward gazing face. Without hesitation, I jumped up! Being so lost in my thoughts, I didn’t hear him or even sensed he was there. Neither did mom, who’s back was to us as she jumped up trying to quickly adjust her cloths. He was just a hunter passing by and wanted to see if we saw any deer or had any luck. After he left all mom said was, “Thanks!” in the most sarcastic tone. I guess she was literally caught with her pants down!
Let’s not forget, Nicole yelled down to us and asked what happened and what we were talking about. It didn’t help I was laughing over our embarrassing encounter but Nicole yelling made it even better!
As the day stretched out, my eyelids became very heavy. It didn’t help that mom made a cozy seat in the leaves leaning up against our trusty log. It so temping to lean on mom and snuggle in her coat and let the sand man make a visit that I didn’t even bother to resist. Believe it or not, that was one of my best naps ever! That is until I got startled again by another human figure. This one was no stranger, it was dad and Ryan checking up on us. Needless to say he wasn’t really happy with our hunting skills, “It’s kind of hard to watch out for deer with your eyelids closed!” he spat. A little groggy, we both jumped up as if trying to play it off like we weren’t sleeping or we just fell asleep. Dad wasn’t buying it! Ryan just laughed at us.
Soon nightfall hit and we exited the woods the same as we entered without a deer. I may have confused some events from the afternoon with the year after, but regardless, it was worth telling my hunting experience. God Speed to all hunters!
Read other adventures in Hunting