23 October 2009

Hunter's Stand #1

PERSONAL NOTE: The following article is one that I wrote while living in Opp , Alabama during the 1970s. Our oldest son, Tim, who was a senior in high school, was asked by the editor of the Opp News to be the editor of the sports section of the weekly paper. I thought I would help him to fill his section by writing hunting stories under an anonymous name. In south Alabama most deer hunters used dogs during those years but there were a few die hard still hunters who enjoyed the sport.
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Hunter's Stand #1
Deer Hunting ~ The First Day
By A. Nimrod
You know that the time is drawing near. There are definite signs. Some men become very impatient. Daily they stare at the calendar and count off the days, wishing for time to fly by just bit swifter. They take endless walks in the woods looking for a rub, a scrape, tracks or some kind of evidence that the deer are still around and waiting to be shot at come November. Many a man will spend his money, his wife’s money and what he can borrow from the bank to purchase a truck. No, not an old dull-looking thing but a brand new pick-up with a bright two-tone paint job, fancy hubcaps, am and fm radio and even air-conditioned (after all it does get hot riding those dusty roads a-looking for your dogs.). Of course, the wife will drive the worn out family car to carry the children to school and to drive to work. But, you know, first things must come first. The wife understands that the husband’s ego is more important than her having a nice new car. Now you just think about it. If the deer hunting husband can drive a brand new truck, with a CB radio antenna a-bending in the breeze as he goes driving through town, you know that she will be mighty proud of her husband. Why, he has the envy of all those other fellows – especially the bow hunter and the lonely still hunter. Because, you see, they will stay up night wondering how that lucky fellow can drive a new truck and at the same time not work during the long deer season that runs from November till January. And, you stop and ponder over that thing, and it is a wonder.

Then, there is the introvert deer-slayer who had rather be off by himself, up a tree with his rifle, a-freezing to death than to enjoy the deer tales and lies of dozens of shotgun wielding deer hunters, along with the yelping of hundreds of hounds a-hankering to go jump up a fawn or two. This unusual nut will spend endless hours a-gazing at tracks and all the other signs and planning his maneuvers. He is most confident that he will kill a 20-point deer the very first morning. He will even boast to his buddies of the findings that he has made. Now, you just try to get him to explain where he saw such signs and he will come back with a smart-alec answer like, “between here and the Florida line.”

But this type of hunter will spend his money, his wife’s money and all that he can get from other sources to purchase a precious 30-06 caliber rifle (he thinks that a moose might come walking around). He has out-grown his lowly 30-30. Anyway, it’s not automatic. You need a least 7 shots that can be fired in less than 2 seconds because you never know how big and how fast that crazy buck will be. He will even carry extra rounds of ammunition in his pocket just in case he sees more deer than he can handle in one morning. Not only is a rifle important but also in order to be modern and scientific, he has either purchased or made him a tree stand. Just ask him about this jewel. I really don’t see how the Indians ever killed a deer without one of the mechanical devices. Why he can go up to 100 feet in the air and see into the next county if the Pine tree is tall enough. (Wives, just a note here.) If you are planning to divorce your deer hunting, no account husband, don’t do it. Just buy him a tree stand and he will eventually fall out of a lonesome Pine, break his neck and then you can collect the insurance, which will be more respectable.

But, here it is the night before the morning. If you think that the kids have problems on December 24th a-waiting for Santa, you should live the life of a deer hunter. He’s still got a lot of kid in him. He can’t sleep. He knows that he has got to get up early the next morning but he can’t sleep. Instead of counting sheep, as a normal and sane person would do, he can’t see anything but a herd of deer – all bucks. He goes through his ritualistic, planned program of activities. His gun has been cleaned (he stares at it, loves it and sort of worships it). He has bought 40 rounds of ammunition. Before he retires for the night, he will make sure that he has enough Vienna sausages to last for a couple of months, sardines (that should kill the human scent), pork an’ beans, drinks, etc. He never knows whether or not he might get lost and the food would come in handy for at least a month (which is consumed the first morning). He carefully piles his hunting garments in a stack near the back door. According to the unreliable weather reports, he will choose the clothing that he thinks he will need. After all, a fellow could freeze to death in Covington County (by mid-morning, he has pulled off everything except one pair of pants and his tee shirt).

Then, the ordeal begins. He knows that he must get to bed. Any other night, that would be just fine but not tonight. He knows, his wife knows, his children know that he won’t be able to sleep. He sets the alarm clock for some ungodly hour like 4:00 o’clock and the battle begins. He thinks of deer, he dreams of deer, he curses deer because he can’t sleep. He rolls and tumbles. He sweats. He listens for that crazy alarm clock. He thinks that it is time to get up. He turns the light on and looks at the clock – it is only 11:30. What a slow night of all nights. Every hour on the hour, he wakes up and looks hopefully at the clock but it is not time to get out of bed. But, finally, just before the clock sounds, he wakes up and pushes the stem in and rejoices that it is time to get out of bed.

With great hopes, he sets out today what he has prepared to do for a long time. But, this day he probably will not kill a deer nor will he the next day or the next. But, you can’t tell him that he won’t ever because he believes that eventually his time is coming. And, that is exactly what keeps him going and what drives his wife batty. Explain it, I can’t. You know why? Because I am a victim of this horrible disease. But, the difference between me and the rest of those insane deer hunters is the fact that I am going to kill a buck the first morning.

From the Opp News, October 1974

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