Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hunting Season!

Very exciting. Actually, this post is kind of boring to probably everyone but me. So let that be a warning. So.

It's the beginning of our two week deer season. We went out Monday for 'First Day' and again yesterday. Nothing so far, but I had a really good time. It's like a holiday in these parts. The kids don't have school, and folks take vacation days from work. I really enjoy being a part of the rusty pickup driving, fluorescent orange wearing, gun toting family. We stop along the side of the road and talk to one another through the open windows of our trucks comparing notes and rumors. I'm definitely in the minority as a girl, but I'm getting used to that part. We listen to classic rock on the AM/FM/cassette player with our rifles propped on the seat between us. We scan the countryside as we're driving, looking for deer and other hunters. We have really bad hat hair, and my nose runs most of the day. I know! Sounds fun, right?

Got up first thing Monday morning in the dark. Mark got me up way too early. Way earlier than necessary, so I went back to bed for a little while and waited for the coffee to brew. I have to admit, I've been in such a PMS low for the past week or two that I wasn't even positive I was going to get up at all. I was lying in bed Sunday night psyching myself up so I'd be re-excited to go & doing a quiet pantomime of taking aim at an invisible deer on the ceiling & squeezing the trigger with my 'air rifle.' Ya, that's not weird at all.

We sited in our rifles on Saturday and I was pulling down and left so I was trying to visualize steadiness. I was only off one ring of the bulls-eye at 100 yards, but I'm a big believer in visualizing & muscle memory & sleeping on it.

So we got up Monday morning. Mark left to go hunting at the neighbor's place over the hill, and I headed out at 6:30 to the woods behind our house. Sweated up the hill in the dark, crawled under the fence and climbed up into the tree stand. It's not really a tree stand because it's a free standing hut, but that's what I call it. Actually we call it 'John's tree stand' because our friend John built it.

My uncle and his 2 boys were in 'My tree stand' along the left edge of our property, and my other uncle was down the hill in the woods somewhere. It was bitter cold and windy, but I was prepared. My newest indispensable hunting accessory is a ThermaCare HeatWrap taped to my chest. Best two dollars I've spent in a long time. That along with a tank top undershirt, 2 long underwear shirts, a sweater, a sweat shirt, a hunting coat, 2 scarves, long underwear pants, jeans, carhart bib overalls, knit hat, muck boots, gloves, and hand warmers in each boot. Pockets full of fruit, a knife, bullets, and my cell phone. I weighed myself with all my stuff & it was an extra 30 pounds. No wonder I sweat walking up the hill.

So the biggest drawback to the wind was that it totally gave me away to the deer. As soon as they were down wind of me, they high-tailed it out of the area.

I saw a raccoon. And squirrels so fat that I spontaneously whispered to myself 'holy fat ****ing squirrel.' Seriously, they were huge, like body builders. The hooty owls were saying their farewells as the sun came up. All in all, I was OK with the morning in spite of the lack of deer action.

I went down for lunch and relocated to the neighbor's farm til sundown. Skunked again. (Not literally.) But I was bird & squirrel watching, and the intermittent snow fall made me smile. I was sitting on a milk crate in a lovely creek bottom in the woods.

After dark, Mark was skinning deer that folks brought to us to butcher. It'll be Christmas money. He said he wasn't going to do deer this year, but he just can't say 'no' sometimes. Plus 10 hours a day wrapping meat gives me something to do with all my free time on the weekends.

(Update--Mark hasn't made me help one time this year. Now that must be love.)

The kids were staying with his grandparents for the first days of deer season, by the way. We didn't have to lock them in a closet or anything. When I stopped by they were having a scavenger hunt/hide and seek game. The hider would hide several written clues in various hiding places which eventually led the seeker to where the hider was hiding. Clues were along the lines of " The first clue is where you hear 'ring, ring!''hello' " or " I'm hiding behind something covered in flowers." A hunt was about 4 clues long and they were having a blast. I loved that it was reading and writing practice.

So Tuesday morning there was no way I was getting up a 5am, and I slept in a bit. I knew I'd have mucho chores to do when I got home in the evening and I needed to conserve a little energy. Mark thought he was going to get up and out-hunter me, but I'm way too cuddly to resist (sure!) and he stayed in bed too.

After we got our butts out of bed we decided to head back over to the neighbor's farm again. This time I wanted to overlook an open field at the top of the property, so Mark found me a spot and left to find his own. The wind was brutal. My Dad said that the wind chill made it 16 degrees and I believe it. I wedged myself up against a tree to get a little relief. At one point the giant black cloud hanging overhead shifted east leaving nothing but a beautiful blue sky and the sun shining on my face. One of those things that makes you feel so lucky and happy to be alive. Another giant black cloud came to take the place of the first one about five minutes later.

I wasn't seeing deer so Mark decided to push the woods out to me to see if he could get any moving. I saw a few, but we had decided to wait to see if we could get a buck this week instead of a doe, and I didn't see any that met the 4 points on one side requirement. So we eventually took a lunch break to warm up and to check if there had been any more deer dropped off to be butchered.

At Mark's grandparents' we had ourselves a redneck energy bar: jumbo (aka bologna) and cheese on white bread. It's something that we rarely eat any other time of year, especially white bread, but it always taste so good during hunting season when you're cold and hungry.

After lunch we decided to hunt up behind the grandparents' house where Mark did most of his boyhood hunting. He calls it Rea's Rocks. It's woods with giant rocks and boulders scattered through them. There's also a huge tree Mark and his best friend carved all their girlfriends' names into. (No, I'm not on it. And that's OK, because now it's falling down. Ha!)

The other cute thing up there is the 'log cabin' they built themselves when they were kids. It's about 15 feet by 15 feet and 4 feet tall. They really cut down trees to build it. They camped, smoked cigarettes, drank beer. You know, real Tom Sawyer stuff. But really, they hunted up there and had their adventures. It's neat to see. And that's where I spent the rest of my hunting day. I saw a couple deer, but the wind was still working against me. I had a small one stroll in from upwind, but she bolted as soon as she hit downwind of me. But that's the way it goes! I still had a great time and I'm looking forward to heading out again sometime in the next two weeks.


Becky said...

Fun! I really enjoyed reading this. I think I might like the sitting outside part of hunting. If only it were a tiny bit warmer!

And Rea's Rocks sounds great.

Annette said...

Ray now wants me to buy him ThermaCare Heat Wraps. He wants to know do they make them for your feet?