Thursday, November 13, 2008

Honey, It's Cold Outside

But hunting season is only a couple weeks away. Rifle season for deer, that is. I find myself peering into every patch of woods and open field on my way to and from work looking for them.

I'm looking forward to an early morning hike up the hill behind the house to my tree stand. Hopefully there will be snow on the ground. I'll walk up through the pasture field and crawl under the fence because it's the straightest quietest way to my stand.I probably won't take coffee so I won't have to pee, but I might take an apple for lunch. Or an orange. A winter or two ago I took an orange with me and the smell as I peeled it out there in the woods in the frigid air was spectacular.

Season before last I was treated to a red fox running back and forth across the hill in front of me. It even came within 10 feet or so of my stand. I could still see it's prints in the snow when I came down later. Really cool. And of course I get to see turkeys and squirrels and rabbits and chipmunks and owls. They all keep me company and help me pass the time as I wait for deer.

And when I do see deer-I couldn't be more thrilled if I saw a unicorn walking through the woods! It's just exhilarating. They are so silent! Grey Ghosts. And beautiful and graceful. I really love to watch them. I've had them lie down right below my tree stand. Just cop a squat right beneath me.

I guess it might be hard to understand how I could then actually shoot one, but it's not that I take joy in shooting them. I do take pride in a good shot. Won't take it if I'm not very certain I can take my time and get a good shot. And it's food in our freezer. We generally butcher all our meat ourselves, deer included. So I'm feeding the family, and as far as red meat goes, it's a good red meat. Plus it's something my husband, and eventually the kids, and I can do together.

I was especially proud of myself last year for field dressing & dragging all by myself for the first time. Prior to that my husband or my dad was always there to take control and do most of the work, but last year I was flying solo.

It was a doe. She was right behind my tree stand but I was able to get a really steady shot on her. She ran, but I watched closely which direction she went, and went tracking her about half an hour later. You don't want to go chasing after them right away. You want them to lie down and peacefully go to sleep.

It was raining and miserable, and tracking was kind of hard. My husband had shown me on different occasions how to look for their foot prints, and I was doing OK, but my stroke of luck was another hunter in a nearby tree stand who'd seen where she fell. He pointed her out to me. I signalled 'Here?' and he'd point again, and I'd signal 'Here?' and he became agitated and I became more embarrassed, but eventually found her below a fallen tree.

So Yippee! I have an audience for my first solo deer gutting. It's raining, my giant Roseanne Roseannadanna hair is frizzed out beneath my blaze orange hat and lucky neon green scarf. Every time I lean my gun against the tree it falls over. I dropped the knife half dozen times. I'm trying to manhandle a deer that likely weighs more than me and has legs sticking out in every inconvenient direction. And it's sticky and stinky.

That part accomplished, I sling my gun over my back and get to dragging. Naturally the first part of the drag is uphill through thorn bushes and over fallen trees. I'm still highly aware of my audience of one and trying to get the hell out of there as quickly as possible, so I just go for it. Just dig my heels in and go for it. And fall really hard on my ass when I fall backwards over a tree. But it's cool. I'm fine. Keep on truckin'. And long story short, made it back down the hill I'd humped up over that morning. And no, it wasn't really much easier dragging downhill.

But the other thing I was remembering this afternoon as I was looking forward to First Day (of Hunting Season) was how cold I get.

I am not well constructed for the cold to begin with. What body fat I have is arranged in unattractive clumps on my ass and thighs;the rest of me is a jumble of ribs and elbows. So after I've worked up a good sweat in my fifteen layers of clothes from my hike to the tree stand I begin my rounds of seismic shivering. I've tried lots of things to prevent or minimize it, but it's pretty much become part of the whole experience now. And I realized also that having two little silicon packets in my chest only makes it worse. Kind of like when the power goes out and there's no heat in your water bed. (I don't actually have a water bed, but I did when I was a teen. It was rad. Totally 90's rad) So I have two little unheated water beds just sucking the heat out of me.

When this occurred to me, and it occurred to me that I might journal this in the blog, I considered whether it was something I'd really want to broadcast, but the fact of the matter is, pretty much everyone that knows me already knows about my boobs and it's old news. My kids know about it. My family knows about it. (And teases me relentlessly) I live in a really small town, and most everyone in it knows about it. And if there was anyone left after that, my husband told them about it. His rationale was that he didn't want anyone to have to wonder. Or something like that.

Hey, three nursed babies were not kind to my body. What can I say?

So, it's not a big deal anymore and a very real matter of consideration in my hunting preparations.

I'm pretty sure I'm not going to find any articles about it in the Field & Stream magazine.

1 comment:

Becky said...

Dude, if Field and Stream were more like this, I would totally subscribe! And you are quite a woman. The whole outdoor huffing and puffing and dragging and gutting thing. Wow!