Deer hunting tales to tell for a lifetime
(Each year, I rerun this deer hunting column. I just don't think I can do any better.)
Deer hunting season is once again over. Now is when the best part of deer season starts. Now is when hunters get their money's worth out of telling the story of how they got their deer.
Deer hunting is really a 12-month season, minus the weekend they hunt. There is the six months preceding deer season, when the hunter incurs the obligatory duty of reciting any deer hunting story he has heard in his life that happened to anyone even remotely connected to him.
Then, in the six months following deer hunting season, there is the required duty to tell this season's hunting tale, only better each time it is repeated.
But, like they say, truth is stranger than fiction, and a good hunting story is often even better in truth than it is in exaggeration. Take for example the picture that ran in a recent paper in the area, showing a fillet knife entangled by its leather thong with complicated knots in a deer's antlers. Now how did that happen? Stranger than fiction.
Probably one of the most expensive deer hunting tales I've heard of came from a local auto body shop a couple of years ago. The weather that fall was cold, so cold that the two women needed a warm-up in one of their husband's four-wheel-drive pickup.
Rather than unload the 30-30 rifle outside, the hunter on the passenger side elected to unload her rifle inside the truck. She dutifully kept the barrel pointed at the floor, just in case that one in a million thing should happen.
I'll bet that a large caliber rifle going off in a pickup is loud.
It was not only really loud, it was really devastating, from the truck's point of view. The bullet first killed the heater core, which you will note was the only thing these hunters' cold fingers really needed. Then it decimated the air conditioning evaporator, which is why this place called me.
On its journey from there, the slug deflected ever so slightly, and it winged the alternator, tearing out a few pretty little bits of necessary wire.
Then it blew a hole through the air conditioning condenser, which had the misfortune of being sandwiched between the radiator and the transmission cooler. They also suffered the same fate.
Finally, just to add insult to injury, the bullet also put out one of the truck's eyes. Total cost, not including towing or future spousal harassment OR having a story anyone would want to tell for the next six months, ran close to $5,000.
My favorite all-time deer hunting tale happens to involve another female hunter. Even though I didn't get the story first hand, there is little reason to doubt, be it truth or fiction, that it really is a story.
It was her first hunting experience. She was rather reluctant about it to start with but after some urging by her husband, she agreed to go. However, she vowed to herself not to shoot a female deer. That, she probably figured, was the least she could do. So, freshly outfitted with a new rifle -- worth about $500 -- which he said she had to have, and a new down-filled blaze-orange hooded parka -- oddly enough, also worth about $500 -- which she said she had to have, she headed for her stand.
As several bucks ventured in and out of shooting range, she continued to debate with herself as to whether or not she even really wanted to kill one of them -- even if they were of the male persuasion.
Finally, she thought that if she just went ahead and shot one of them, she could at least go back to the house and warm up. Just then, another nicely racked buck stepped out into the clearing. She aimed ever so long, but the buck wouldn't leave. It wouldn't run or anything. She shot. The buck fell to the ground.
After several minutes, during which time the buck didn't move, and neither did her husband, who had earlier said that he would "come right over and help," she slowly and stiffly climbed down from her tree, and started to walk for help. Just as she walked past the deer, it lifted its head and completely enveloped her in the soft depths of its suffering brown eyes.
She froze. It laid its head back down. She started to walk by; it raised its head again, and looked at her. She stopped. It put its head back on the cold, cold ground. Each time she moved, it opened its eyes beseechingly at her.
She knew she should put it out of its misery, but she didn't think she could. Besides, her gun was back in the tree. So, unable to think of any other alternative, she took off her brand new down-filled orange parka and put it over the deer's head. But it lifted its head when she moved, and the parka fell off. This time, she put it on the deer's antlers, and zipped it up, and managed to leave to get help.
Isn't this a great yarn?
By the time she found her husband, who had unsportingly forgotten all about her, and got back to where the deer was: you guessed it. The deer had equally unsportingly come back to his senses, and left, with her designer parka securely zipped around his neck and antlers.
Furthermore, from the lack of blood, it appeared not to even have been wounded very badly, so tracking it was out of the question. Was that deer safe now, or what? Several hunters later reported seeing the fastest hunter they'd ever seen, running through the woods in orange clothing.
Finally, to once again add insult to injury, not only was the deer gone, and her parka, but so was her rifle, which someone had taken from her tree stand.
All she ended up with was a cold.
And this story.