"Lookit that, will ya!" My cousin Pelayo was rapt as he pointed through the windshield. His face beamed with joy. We whooped and high-fived. It was a gorgeous panorama. Logging trucks laden with logs rumbled past sending up clouds of choking dust. Tattooed arms stuck out of the windows. The din of chainsaws and log skidders added to the magnificent soundscore. The wind carried that distinctive underwear-you’ve-hunted-in-three-days-straight aroma from the paper mill.
It takes deer hunters to appreciate this setting. We were already scouting for next year. We sat in his nice air-conditioned truck staring down from a ridge over burned clearcuts, unburned select cuts, monotonous ten year pine plantations, featureless five year cutovers…Ah!
Some would prefer the setting when Columbus landed: towering pines, massive oaks, open woods, unsilted streams, peaceful and environment-sensitive Native Americans roasting each other over an open fire. You couldn’t blame them. They didn’t have much else to roast. Those towering pines and oaks didn’t allow for sunlight to reach the forest floor. So no shrubbery. So not much food for deer. So deer were scarce — especially compared to now.
Pretty woods make for ugly deer hunting. The greenie-weenies get all moist and runny over those "old growth forests," but deer hate them. (as do rabbits and rats — the critters Spotted owls feast on). Deer much prefer the ugly brambles that sprout in logged areas. Much more food here. And much more cover. Ask us hunters.
Gotta hand it to the greenies though. The superb deer hunting across the South recently is mainly their doing. They banned logging in the northwest. Then an amazing principle called "the law of supply and demand" came into effect. The price of Southern lumber skyrocketed. Southern lumber is mainly on private land. So it’s (for the time being, anyway) beyond their grasp.
Oh how this annoys them. They throw tantrums and fume, shaking their fists and sputtering in rage, like King Arthur yelling at the French guy atop the castle in Monty Python and The Holy Grail. Remember that?
"Now look here my good man!" The King yells at up at the guy on the wall. "We are on a sacred quest. Tell your master that if he doesn’t……."
"PHRRRRUUUULLLT!!" He French guy (John Cleese?)blows a raspberry right back. Then sticks his thumbs in his ears and waves his hands. "Go away you silly silly English person!..I blow my nose at you, you silly English King!"
"Now LOOK HERE my good man !! If you DO NOT agree to my commands we shall take you by FORCE…so tell your master….."
"PHRUULLTT!! You don’t frighten us , you silly wiper of other people’s bottoms!…you silly King Arthur per-SON’!" …..Now go away or we shall taunt you a second time!"
"This is my LAST WARNING!! We are on a sacred quest to….
"Go away!…. I don’t want to talk to you no more…..you’re mother was a hamster and you’re father stank of elderberrys. You…..
"Okay, That’s IT!!…Men?….Ready!–CHARGE!!"
The Holy Grail video always slays us on our Saturday night Dinner-Disco parties….So anyway, because of the price they could get, everyone in the South with timber on their land started logging . So deer habitat sprouted everywhere. Then, of course, the deer themselves — to the immense joy of us hunters.
Bow seasons open early in the South, September, October — when it’s still stifling. So us bowhunters savor many woodland delights unknown to gun and northern hunters.
Chiggers for instance. The joys of using kitchen implements to scrape the upper epidermis completely off your lower legs in a frenzy of scratching often eludes the gun hunter. Not that chiggers (also known as red-bugs) attack and infest only the LOWER legs. No sir. Being caught scratching frantically in more socially unacceptable anatomical regions at cocktail parties and important business functions is another treat gun hunters often miss out on.
Ticks are another. Much like the honorable Barney Frank of Massachusetts, if not removed early, they always find their way to the bodily area encased by Speedo bathing suits.
So I waited for December to take my daughter Monica deer hunting with me. I take the boys, duck, rabbit and squirrel hunting, but Monica for deer, occasionally. The boy’s attention span aren’t suited for deer hunting. Not enough action.
Females make excellent deer hunters. Trust me here. They’re more patient than males, pay more attention to detail and — I swear — spot contrast and movement better than men. I’ve seen it time and again. Then I read some article somewhere that endorsed, scientifically, what I constantly noticed afield. And please banish the thought that I might be writing this because I’m falling victim to creeping Feminism. You know better.
My chum Artie made me a custom deerstand that fits my butt along with Monica’s. We were in it last Christmas holidays with the horizon already pink. Daylight seeped slowly into the creekbottom and the squirrels and birds came alive. It was nice — cool but not cold. No bugs. Monica was still, alert and vigilant. Wish I could claim the same. By 8:00 I was drowsing. "Wake me if you see something."…Then I dozed off… and dreamed…..
…..This is Connie Chung reporting from Thibodaux General Hospital. Federal authorities are pouring into this rural area trying to unravel the chain of events which led to last night’s violence and mayhem. Details are sketchy but sources report that the Sierra Club had arrived in the area to stage a "consciousness-raising workshop" to dramatize the plight of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. "This is one of the last strongholds of this rare bird." said Sierra spokesperson and noted ornithologist Bianca Jagger. "We can’t allow another species to just disappear, like Mick. Remember, extinction is forever."
Unbeknownst to the activists their visit coincided with the opening of the Louisiana deer season. Several of the activists collapsed in nervous seizures upon sighting the bloody carcasses of deer hanging in a nearby campground. "It was horrible!" gasped spokesperson and noted zoologist Meryl Streep. "These beer-swilling yahoo fascists where ripping their skins off ! And taking pictures! "
"I never dreamed!" gasped spokesperson and noted moralist Jack Nicholson, "That such things still went on in this country! In this century!" Los Angeles chapter chairperson Shirley McClaine immedeatly started chanting Hindu slogans to the hapless deer which she believes might be her grandparents….."
Then I felt something tugging at my shirt….huh?…what?….I awoke. "Dad! Dad!" Monica hissed, pointing towards the left at a patch of briars. Her eyes were wide. Her mouth tense. Then I saw the tail flick. GEEZUZ! A DEER!
Monica ducked and covered her ears. But I couldn’t shoot yet. He was probably 80 yards away but obscured by too much brush. Not that I gave a damn about the size of the antlers, or if it had antlers at all. You can’t eat them. It was either-sex season . We’ll take anything.
The head came up and I saw little sprouts of antlers. He took another step and his shoulder cleared the tree. I rested an elbow on my knee to steady the quivering crosshairs. Take a deep breath …that’s it…NO! His ears are up and he’s looking this way. Now his tails’ up! Now it’s back down. Whooo.
He takes another step and a tree again obscures his vitals. I’m breathing in gasps. Monica’s immobile. I steady the gun and he steps towards the creek. His rib cage clears the tree and his head goes down to browse. I take another deep breath and try to steady the rifle. The crosshairs jump wildly as my temples throb and heart pounds….another deep breath. The crosshairs finally steady….His head’s coming up again. The crosshairs wobble near his shoulder — Okay deep breath, s-t-a-r-t-…s-q-u-e-e-zing — BLAAAM!….. Where?…
"He’s DOWN!"…YES! HE’S Down!" I howled like a lunatic. I was shaking like David Byrne in the Once In a Lifetime Video. "Come on Monica! Get down Get DOWN! Let’s go!"
"Alright Dad! Alright! Geezum give me a chance!"
" Sorry honey I’m a little excited. Here I’ll help you down." I stumbled from the third rung, wrenching my ankle and landing face first in the leaves. No matter. I walked over, beaming and ecstatic, my knees almost knocking together in their spasms.
Man what a sight. He was a dandy, barely a hundred pounds. But a dandy in my book. I’d hit a little high — clipped the spine at the shoulder. Instant death. Thank God. The last thing I wanted today was an ugly kill scene. Monica was beaming too, then she looked over and pouted. "Awww, poor thing." She’ll get over it. Always does.