12 December 2009

Trees, Tornadoes & Ticks

It was a warm and humid morning in the month of December when I arose at 2:30 a.m. and dressed for my hunting excursion at the T.R. Miller Management Area near Brewton, Alabama. When I went outside the weather felt like it was April instead of December. There was an eating establishment in downtown Opp that stayed opened 24/7 called Joe’s Steakhouse and there it was that I sat down for a full breakfast. When I started driving west on U.S. Highway 84 I could see lightening and because of the rain I had to turn on the windshield wipers. I said to myself that no sane deer hunter would be out on such a day. I learned later that about 800 hunters from all over the state hunted on the management area that stormy day, and I was one of them. When you leave Andalusia headed west on the Brooklyn highway it becomes dark and lonely. I drove within about 6 miles east of Castleberry and turned south into the management area and arrived about 5 a.m. to check in and then I headed to my chosen spot to hunt. I walked 10 or 15 minutes from where I parked through some large pines to a bottom where there were hardwood trees near a small stream of water. Growing beside one another were a pine tree and an oak tree. Being younger back in the 1970s I was much stronger and I was able to place my back against the pine tree and my feet against the oak tree and work my way up to the first big limb where I was going to sit for a spell. At this time I did not even have a tree seat that I could use. Well, I started up the tree but I had not counted on the trees being wet. I tried to climb but each time I would slide down to the ground. I took a rope out of my game bag and tossed it over a limb and tried that method but I failed each time because my feet kept slipping on the wet tree. Finally I gave up and found a fallen tree nearby that its limbs had prevented it from falling flat on the ground but kept the tree elevated so I climbed up as far as I could and sat down. It was then that the bottom fell out. It was the hardest rain I had ever been in while hunting without heading for a shelter. I took my Marlin 30-30 and placed as much of it under my rain suit as possible and endured the storm. What I didn’t realize was that a cold front was racing through the south and was causing severe weather when it would collide with the hot and humid atmosphere. In fact a tornado hit just south of the Alabama line in the panhandle of Florida and one man was killed and friends that was not far from where I was sitting. The rain finally stopped and I could feel the cold weather coming on. The only noise I heard was water dripping off the leaves. I caught movement near the stream of water and it was then that I saw the deer but for a moment I could not tell if it was a buck or a doe and only bucks were legal on the hunt. I started to pull the hammer back on my rifle but I learned quickly that I did not have any strength in my thumb. The reason being I had nearly sprained it when I tried several times to pull my way up the tree using my rope. So I placed the hammer between my thumb and my finger and pulled it back and when I did there was a click and that deer raised its head and looked my way. I saw then it was a six point buck and I shot and the 170 grain bullet knocked that deer down where it stood. I drugged the deer a short distance to the stream of water and I began to field dress it and from time to time I was able to wash the blood off my hands. Now a real problem presented itself to me. I failed to mention that my hunting vehicle was a 1964 Ford Falcon. Just how does one person get a buck deer that is as limber as a dish rag on the back of the trunk is one for a mathematician to figure out. I finally tied off the antlers to the back door handle and lifted his hind legs up and over the trunk and tied his legs to the door handle on the other side of the car and here I went to the Ranger station to be checked out. By the way, did you know the blood from a deer will eat the paint right off of your vehicle? I took the deer to a friend place of business and we began skinning it and cutting up the meat. By early afternoon the temperature must have fallen 30 degrees. I eventually arrived at home sleepy, tired but a happy hunter. I got in the shower and began washing my body and as I did I felt some strange lumps on my back. I called for my wife and she quickly identified the two lumps as being TICKS. Those outfits had gotten off the cold deer carcass and had found their way to my warm body. How repulsive but such is not uncommon for outdoorsmen. We were successful in removing the ticks and I never suffered from those blood sucking creatures. To my surprise I was healed from pneumonia, arthritis, lupus, congestive heart failure and yellow jaundice by the letting of blood as was practiced a few centuries ago. (-: Seriously, the Vet said that the ticks died of blood poisoning.

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