November 2, 2010

Hunting Trip, 2010

In keeping with the words of comedian, Jeff Foxworthy, "you can't make this stuff up", I want to share with you a story that I hope you enjoy reading as much as I loved telling it.

My wife and I are avid outdoors folks and love hunting, camping and fishing. We spend nearly every free weekend during deer season at "deer camp". Even if we don't see a deer, the time is precious while we're out there in the great outdoors. This year is no exception. The season has been open for about a month and we've already been hunting 3 times.

On October 31st, my appreciation for hunter safety and the ability of high-performance weaponry changed forever. It's 6:09 p.m., Sunday, October 31st. It's just starting to get dark. The blazing Texas sun is finally settling down behind the trees before it goes to sleep for the night and now I can finally see the entire area just below where my tree stand was oh-so carefully placed without the glare blinding me. My wife is 100 yards due North, behind me and has been settled in to her stand for hours.  Over coffee, she had told me earlier that morning that she noticed the deer she had seen were coming down a trail behind me and were coming out around 6:15. Well, bingo, right about that time I notice movement to my left and behind a stand of trees of course. It's a very large doe that is making its way around me to the left and behind me, headed down the trail just like my wife had said earlier that morning. I can't get a shot off, so I frantically text her "Big doe coming down the trail toward you"! I sent it in plenty of time for her to be ready should the deer make it's way into her range.

What happened for the next eleven minutes makes me appreciate the bravery of General Custer and those unfortunate soldiers at the battle of the Little Big Horn. It's been one or two minutes since the doe passed behind me. All of a sudden I hear the BANG of my wifes crossbow, followed quickly by "SNAP, CRASH, RATTLE, RATTLE, RATTLE" as the bolt ricocheted off of tree limbs, trunks and finally lands twelve feet below me and lodges into a fire ant mound ten feet to my left. My mind immediately goes back to my Navy days and into "General Quarters" or "Battle Readiness" aboard ship and I go into "battle mode"! I turn to find the direction of the incoming fire and realize, "OH GOD", it's my wife and she has three more bolts! About that time I again hear, "BANG" the second bolt screams in, head high through the trees to my right this time and dancing wildly through the tree tops and landing 20 feet right and ten feet behind me! I'm thinking, how the heck did a shot land fifteen feet in the top of a tree if she's shooting at a deer on the ground??? Is it truly a deer she's shooting at or have all of her marbles fell out of her sack and she suddenly thinks she's found a way to collect on that measly life insurance policy I took out on myself? At this point I've lost all sense of rationality as I cringe behind the tree from one side of the stand to the other. Of course, THIS is the morning I forgot my harness as I realize I'm not strapped to the tree. The thought keeps running through my head, if the wife doesn't impale me, I will fall out of this tree. I'm trying to figure out just how many shots she has left as I become the closest thing I'll ever be to a "tree hugger". "BANG... CRASH, RATTLE, RATTLE, RATTLE" again is what I hear as bolt number three drops harmlessly in front of my stand and into a clearing I'd just made that very morning between hunts.

By this time I'm hanging onto the tree with one arm and wildly waving my orange ball cap with the other screaming at the top of my lungs "Cease fire!!! Cease fire"!!!, but to no avail. I hear the "BANG" of her last bolt, or so I thought and so I start walking that stand down the tree to the bottom in a New York hurry. Then, I remembered, SHE BROUGHT HER SPARE CROSSBOW TO THE STAND THIS MORNING AND HAS FOUR MORE BOLTS!!!! At that point I'm on the phone calling, texting, screaming, crying out to her to get her attention. But my wife is in full "hunt mode" and hasn't heard anything except the voice in her head  saying "kill, kill, kill". She's been steady cocking, loading and shooting for 10 minutes now and is determined that we're having backstrap TONIGHT. Then all of a sudden, there's a lull in the woods except for the knocking of my knees and the barely audible mutters of me quoting the dying words of Benjamin "Bubba" Blue in the movie Forrest Gump as he said "I wanna go home". Finally, God seems to have pity on me and like magic, her bow jams and she can't fire or there would have been a second barrage of four more bolts headed my way.

So, it's been a minute or so since the shooting has stopped, I've gotten back control of all bodily functions but I'm still so shaky I still can't dial the phone. So, I start running through the woods blindly and stupidly toward her, waving my orange hat! As I make my way to her stand, she comes outside and says "Hurry, get over here"!!!! I'm thinking "she wants to get a sure fires shot off". So, I walk gingerly to her stand as I approach, she says "GET DOWN, THERE ARE DEER EVERYWHERE", INCLUDING THE ONE I'VE BEEN SHOOTING AT! So I drop to the ground, afraid if I didn't, she'd find something to throw at me to finish the job. As we slink down in the waist high grasses, a deer meanders out into the opening and wanders to within 15 feet of where we are!!! Then I realize what she just said, "that's the deer I've been shooting at"! I'm now the one with the "deer in the headlights look" as I began to wonder WHO was stupider, me or that deer??? Thank the Lord the bow was jammed or that poor deer would have been legs up on a spit back at deer camp! I actually felt kind of bad for the little guy, especially after she picked up the bow again and was frantically trying to unjam the string. My next thought is whether I should take off running before she has the chance to get the bow unjammed or to scream at the deer to get the heck out of the clearing! Finally reason settled in and I did what every smart man would do when his wife has a loaded weapon right next to him...I didn't do anything.

At that point I would have never believed I would be totally amazed over two different events, on the same night, within 15 minutes of each other! But what happened next, defies all earthly explanation. For the next eight minutes the little spike that almost died with me that night, stood there in that clearing as my wife shot video of him quietly eating and staring at us. Then, slowly, quietly and peacefully, he melted back into the woods. I truly had just witnessed the phenomenon called "Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde". Ten minutes prior to videoing the deer, my wife had the crazed "kill the deer" look in her eyes and next, she was kneeling peacefully in the grass enjoying the second blessing that God had allowed us to witnes. Oh, the first one is that my wife didn't become a widow.

It's Tuesday now, my heart has stopped beating wildly, my nerves have finally settled down and the work week has began again. As I write this, I'm glad to say that my wife and I have already made plans for our next hunting trip on Novemeber 13th and 14th. I can't wait to crawl back into that stand, to see the sun rise beautifully in the East, to enjoy Gods great outdoors and the view from my new "perfect spot", three-quarters of a mile away from my wifes blind.

Happy Hunting Texas...

The Flighty Texan