November 23, 2009

Afternoon delight…

October 31, 2009

I gamely asked Henry “do I need my safety harness?”  I hope my relief wasn’t too obvious when he said no, that I would be in a ground blind on a green field for the afternoon.

Side note:  I had NO idea what a ground blind actually looks like from the inside or what to do once I was IN one and further more had NO  idea what a “green field” was.

We loaded up in the trucks and headed out.

I have to be honest, at this point I  felt like a poser. 

After lunch we had went out front to shoot some practice arrows.  EASY, right? WRONG!!!  Apparently you really shouldn’t shoot broadheads into one of those sack looking targets that are filled with fiberfill.  It’s REALLY hard to get them out.  That was fun, I stood like a lost goose while Tes and Billie cut them out of the target. They were extremely gracious about it and actually joked with me about it. 

Poser cred: It had taken me at least 15 minutes longer than the other hunters to put myself together to leave the lodge.  I felt like I would NEVER get the hang of putting the safety harness on.  My boots were a major pain in the butt to get on and off.  I forgot my BOW in the room!!!!!!  I had spent the day listening to everyone talk about hunting and most of the time it was like listening to a foreign language.

I was lost.  I kept thinking that at some point these folks are going to realize that I HAVE NO FREAKING CLUE what I’m doing and just tell me to hang out at the lodge and watch Lifetime Movies.  BUT they didn’t….I actually asked some pretty stupid questions…usually trying to make a joke out of my lack of knowledge.  Each question was patiently and kindly answered.

Buck Jam- is that for toast ha ha?'’s a mineral supplement!

Chicory- Ha ha, that’s what Community Coffee has in it!  You can plant that? And deer EAT it????  Ah! It’s a perennial that you can plant in your food plots and deer DO eat it!

Mulies- are those some kind of new cute shoe?  Because I love shoes.  Yuck-yuck.   It’s slang for mule deer! Wow!

And so that was my state of mind as I stepped out of the truck repeating Henri’s directions to the blind over and OVER in my head in an effort to keep from getting lost.  I turned and started walking feeling like a fool.

There were deer tracks everywhere along the trail to the stand.  I was impressed that I even knew what a track looked like.   Following Henri’s directions, I reached the field.   It was a beautiful rectangle of verdant green carpet that sloped gently downhill and slightly to the right.   Stopping at the edge of the expanse  I looked for the pop-up  blind.  I finally spotted it and per Henri’s advice, began walking down the center of the field.  I stopped almost directly in front of the blind and cut across and began getting into the blind.

After opening the windows facing the left side of the field I began getting situated.  I’d brought a book, but I was so paranoid about moving too much I just left it in the pack.  I tried to get my arrow on my bow.  It wouldn’t fit….I tried pushing it harder but to no effect.  Then I took the time to actually look at what I was doing. 

First lesson of the afternoon: Part A: check knock for dirt and debris.

First lesson: Part B: Clear floor of blind of aforementioned debris and this will help eliminate debris in knock problem AND have the added bonus of decreasing the noise level!  (I thought about this when I went to sleep that night!)

I ranged the field like Billie had told me to do.  That ant hill is 17 yards away.  That clod of dirt is 26.  That one is 21.  I was ready.

About 4:40pm  suddenly without warning a doe stepped out of the tree line like a ghost from the mist.  She was followed by a spike.  I have never been so shocked by anything in my life.

I TRULY didn’t believe that I would see a deer.  I had convinced myself that it wasn’t going to happen.  Two deer at one time was just overwhelming.

I kept thinking to myself “there is NO way I’m even going to see a deer much less actually shoot at one!  It’s just not going to happen so you better just enjoy the trip and getting to know some new people.”  I had a looong list of reasons it wasn’t going to happen.

I have ADD.  I can’t sit without fidgeting unless I’ve taken my meds and even then it’s sometimes a struggle.  I’m clumsy.   I make too much noise.  For Pete’s sake, I hum to myself when no one is around! 

And yet…there they were!  I quit breathing.  I lost peripheral vision.  I could hear my heartbeat in my hair.  I thought I was going to throw up.

OH WAIT!  I’M HUNTING!  I’m supposed be getting ready to shoot one of these deer.  I took a deep breath. The pair were grazing at the tree line about 47 yards away. FAR beyond where I am comfortable shooting.  Bow in hand, ready to draw I waited.  They were coming my direction so I leaned towards the back of the blind (NINJA style)  and drew my bow.

I WAS GOING TO SHOOT AT A DEER!  I couldn’t believe it.

I leaned back to the front of the blind to take aim and found that they had turned back towards the tree line and the doe was heading back into the trees.  I quietly let down the bow.

I silently willed them to turn back my direction.  The doe casually walked back into the trees and disappeared as magically as she had appeared. The spike stood for a second as if trying to decide what his next move would be.  He cocked his head and began grazing at the edge of the trees.  I sat and watched him as he made his way up the field.  I watched until he was directly in front of me.  His outline illuminated by the sun was  dimly visible through the fabric of the closed front windows.  He began walking directly towards me, grazing as he went.  I watched as he turned and began to walk back towards the back of the field. I watched his nose come into view on a direct path to the ant hill I had ranged at 17 yards.   I WAS GOING TO GET A CHANCE AT A SHOT! 

I quietly positioned myself and readied to draw.  I pulled and nothing.  It wouldn’t budge.  I took a deep breath and pulled. Nothing! Not an inch.  What. The. Hell.  I could SEE his head dropped nibbling on the grass.  Was THIS what a friend of mine had told me about?  Was I seizing up??????  I once again took a deep breath and PULLED! SUCCESS!

I’m not sure what exactly spooked him. It could have been the movement of my elbow.  It could have been the sound of my stool.   Billie said it was likely the expletive that I probably spewed.  I don’t REMEMBER cursing, but I also don’t remember NOT cursing.

As I watched him go I  laughed.  What else is there to do? 

I saw four more deer that afternoon.  Two spotted fawns played and grazed for almost 30 or 40 minutes often within two or three feet of my blind. They were so close at one point that I could hear them pulling the grass out of the dirt.   A doe walked about halfway down the field and then disappeared into the thicket.  At dusk, I heard rustling to my right and was watching to see what had made the noise when I noticed movement out of the corner of my left eye.  I turned to was a beautiful one horned buck lope across the field.

When I saw my guide Henri’s light coming down the hill I couldn’t wait to tell him and the others about my day!  As we sat around the campfire that evening, we compared the days events.   As I retold my tale of woe, other’s offered up similar stories of their own. There were tales of past successes and past failures.  It was a great evening.  The perfect end to my perfect day.  No deer were harvested that day, but I no longer felt like a fraud and a poser.  I had passed into some new country and was a part the great circle of  hunters.  If I never hunted another day, I was at that moment a fellow countryman. Or woman as the case may be.

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