(Continued from redneckus wannabeus) As far as I can tell, a key skill of an average redneck is the ability to drink beer from a can. My sources say that the best redneck stories begin with either of two phrases: “Hold my beer,” when the event that will become a story commences, or “We had been drinkin’ a little,” to begin the telling of the story. I wouldn’t know, because I don’t like beer.
Oh I’ve tried it. I’ve tried a few “american beers” and a few “stouts” but none of them tasted like something I wanted to drink. The stouts were more tolerable than the thinner beers to me, but again, not enough to want to keep drinking it. I don’t understand why anyone would be driven to “acquire” this “acquired taste,” but then again, I’m apparently not a redneck.
Speaking of holding it, my next encounter with a deer was a little embarrassing to both of us. I had tried the tree stand, but my bifocals were a problem. I had tried a ghillie suit in a creek, but the doe was so interested that she wanted to taste my leaves. So I moved on to a ground blind. By this time, I was familiar with the deer on my property, and sadly, they were familiar with me. I knew where they slept, where they ate, the paths they traveled and where they napped. I set up my blind at an intersection of paths close to the creek where there were always tracks, beside a thicket where they sometimes napped. I had seen them here before from a distance, and now I had photos from a game camera to prove it.
I “brushed in” the blind and then let it sit there for a week or so to acclimate to the surroundings and vice versa. Afterwards, I came in with the regular routine, before dawn, blah blah blah, with my spider web stick. I settled in to the blind, zipped it back up, nocked an arrow, and waited. I’ve done this, plus fly-fishing and hiking/camping enough to appreciate this part. The leaves and grasses and twigs and trees transforming from a black and white scene to a full color picture with the sun casting its first rays on them; the drops of water on the leaves and gossamer casting prismatic light on the thousand shades of green around me; the sky turning from black to midnight blue to dozens of rippling hues to a bright light blue. The sounds of the animals and insects leaving and warning others nearby at first when I arrive, and then slowly and surely returning to their usual routines once I’ve become silent and still. I’ve had a finch sitting on my head for much of a morning before, inside a blind. But I digress.
After nature settled back in and the woods were comfortable again, I heard footsteps in the dry leaves behind my blind. I stayed still and waited. The creature never came to the front and I never saw it – only heard it. So I waited. It was tempting to reposition to get a shot in that direction, but I knew my movement would just spook whatever was back there. I heard a blow and a huff to confirm my suspicion, but still remained still. The sun was at full light now, and I was losing hope that anything would come in front of me. Time passed.
Around 11:00 a.m. I decided the morning movement was done, and decided to reposition the blind for a better view of the other direction. I rose, unzipped the door and stepped out to stretch. It was a beautiful day with just a nip of chill in the air. I feel compelled to mention, at this point, that when you’re in the woods, “the call of nature” is not a thing. It doesn’t have to call anymore than your spouse when you’re both sitting on the sofa. She just whispers, nudges, or presses, or even jabs. But there is no need to call like there is in town. And that’s what happened. Mother nature gave me a gentle whisper and I responded with “not now.” I proceeded to drag the blind to the new spot, clear the dried leaves out, and as I was re-brushing it in, she nudged. A little more insistent now. I was confident though, that I should finish the set up and then make it home to a warm bathroom and a magazine (Bowhunter, of course). I put my seat and orange vest in the blind, and Mother Nature jabbed. I now knew there would be no going home. Despite my earlier thought, the morning movement was just beginning. There was no waiting for the warm comfort of home. I couldn’t hold it.
I didn’t want to take of business in the blind, of course, so I went over to the clearing where the blind had been, and went to work. Number two, leaning up against a tree. Just as I was cleaning up with my son’s orange vest, in comes the doe. She was beautiful – smooth brown hair, big doe eyes, the light creating a sort of glow around her face and ears – I felt like we had met before. I felt vulnerable this time though. She looked at me with her big dark eyes framed by her long lashes (yes, we were close enough for this detail), and said: “you know this is my living room, right?” I was speechless. “Even the bucks don’t do it here . . . that’s nasty, dear.” I was ashamed of myself at the same time that I thought it oddly ironic that she would call me “dear.” With my pants around my ankles, still leaning against the tree, I slowly but foolishly reached for the bow to my right. She chuckled, took a bite of some manna-corn, and said,
“You’re not a redneck, Mr. Hogue. Just stop it.”
Call it homo sapiens snobbery, but I couldn’t bring myself to speak to a wild deer. She looked around as she chewed, then slowly walked away, giving me a clear broadside 10 yard shot, if I could have only pulled up my pants and drawn my bow at the same time.
I buried my son’s now ruined orange vest, walked back to the jeep and drove home.
to be continued