Gone Huntin’

That’s right, gone huntin’. As such, I’m not here to comment obsessively on whatever popped up on Memeorandum in the last five minutes, like I’d usually be.

Instead, I’m doing what bloggers always do when we really, really want to make sure and post something but won’t be around to do it: I’m cheating. In that vein, I present this column I wrote waaaaay back in 2006, following my very first hunting season:

City Kid in the Woods

I’m a city kid. I make no bones about that. Sure, I do my share of camping, and I did a little Army time. But even then, I was far more likely to be found riding a desk and manning a coffeepot than anything else.

Bottom line, I’m no rugged outdoorsman. More of a comfortable indoorsman, if there is such a thing.

And yet, over the past few days, I’ve learned that even being a comfy indoorsman can help lead to outdoorsmanship.

How, you ask? Hunker down, young’un, and lemme tell you…

It was 6:45 Saturday morning. I was up, dressed, sitting in a tree, doing my best not to move. Trying to be as still and as quiet as possible.

Be very, very quiet. We’re hunting whitetails. You have to be quiet and still, because deer have excellent hearing. They spook, particularly on this particular weekend in November every year. Or so I was told. This was my first time, you see.

Normally, I’m a mover. I fidget. I pace. I play with a pen, or pick at my nails, or whistle. I’m not still, and I’m not quiet. Nor am I accustomed to the outdoors, which means that simply getting to my stand and then into my stand was an awkward, noisy, clumsy affair. Deer anywhere within a half mile radius were alerted to my presence.

At least, that’s what I figured.

Once up there, though, quiet came easy. Quiet enough, and still enough, that a squirrel twice came within an easy arm’s reach. Just checking me out.

When you’re trying to be quiet, it’s amazing how much noise everything else makes. Tiny birds, hopping around in the leaves underneath. Dry leaves rubbing against each other, or against a branch. Squirrels are incredibly loud.

And me, in the midst of cacophony, barely moving, barely making a sound.

How incredibly boring.

I wanted to pull out a book (yes, I’d brought one), but was afraid to. Didn’t want to risk missing a deer.

Tiresome. Dull. Cold. Sleepy, after a late night followed by a very early morning without my normal quart of rich dark roast. Boring. Anxious. Frustrating.

Impatient. Hey, I’m an American. We’re an impatient people. We want things now. Fast food. Supermarkets. High speed internet. Eight-lane highways. Why isn’t mass transit more popular? Because we have to wait for it!

So why am I sitting out here waiting to harvest my own food? If I want to shoot, I can go to the range. If I want food, I can buy it! We have people who make their living providing me with food. There’s no need for me to sit out here in the cold and the wind just hoping against hope that I might catch sight of something that’s close enough and clear enough and slow enough for me to shoot.

And that might not even happen! What if I don’t see one at all? I’ve been out here two whole hours, and I sure haven’t seen one yet. And it’s cold. And I’m tired. How did I ever get talked into doing this ridiculous…

Hey, what was that? Crashing in the treeline there — I saw white! That’s a deer!

Come on, come out where I can see you. Steady now, easy, not too fast, ready, and…

Wow, who knew hunting was so much fun? Satisfying? Thrilling! Oh, sure, it’s pretty tedious from minute to minute sometimes, but you know, you’ve got to have patience in this life. You’ve got to learn how to wait for things. How to sit still and be content, to understand that not everything worth having can be had right now.

I’m living the outdoor life! Connecting with my roots — the roots that lead to people who hunted because there weren’t grocery stores and gazillion-head herds of beef cattle. This is something everybody should experience, at least once!

Am I hooked? Not sure yet. But I’ve learned one thing: next time I’m lying on the couch in a near-catatonic state watching football and the wife says something about chores, I’ll just tell her: I’m not being lazy, I’m training for next year’s deer season!

UPDATE – yes, I was hooked.

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