The NHB’s were fierce in 2003. Many critters were harvested at the hunts, including the first Pope and Young Buck taken by a woman, Brenda Reynolds, at Heartland Outfitters located in the "Golden Triangle" of Illinois. Lisa Price scored the "cardiac hill" doe at Heartland as well. Her deer ran down into a ravine and required three people to drag it back up and out. Charter NHB member Tes Jolly scored a beautiful buck in Alabama at the Master Rack Lodge. I was privileged to hunt with the NHB’s in Illinois, Alabama and Mississippi in 2003. This Sisterhood of lady hunters consisted of both the experienced core group, and a number of new hunters as well. It is a joy share ‘share the faith’ with hunting, and to pass it on to new members of the group.
Oh my. There’s nothing quite as fine as going to full draw and staying there just long enough that every muscle in your upper body goes into a full blown protest. Your bow holding arm begins to ache, your draw arm begins to shake. Back muscles go from feeling fine at full flex, to screaming for mercy. Your eye focus through the peep site begins to dissolve as your non-dominant eye gets distracted by the rest of the picture. It is sublime. Put that moment twenty feet up a tree in full camo with unaware deer beneath you and you’ve got perfection. Two spike bucks and two does were just coming out from being blocked by a tree that hid my going to full draw a moment before. Earlier in this hunt several days before, I had held out for booker bucks. But now I was on a harvest mission. In mere seconds, the vitals of one of those does would be twenty yards from my anxious arrow. I especially like standing shots and mentally commanded my now wobbly self to suck it up and hold still. Perfectly still. The moment of truth was at hand.
My draw caved a tad, and I pushed my left elbow back to the wall once again, heart pounding. Pounding over a doe? Hey, my heart pounded over the raccoons, porcupine and ground hog I arrowed earlier this season at my hunting shack. I am a cheap thrill hunter and proud of it. I could feel that heat blush on my face now, and felt a sweat droplet trickled down the small of my back. Only a Yankee in Mississippi would be sweating at fifty degrees. This most mind etching moment was suddenly fractured by an eruption of roly-poly gray critters that literally burst out of the woods in the distance. My predator climax was shattered as the deer startled, went on red alert and leaped away in all directions faster than I could be disappointed. Those mysterious gray critters, like marbles with legs, scattered over the green field beneath me as I let down my draw and stopped myself from thinking an expletive. Fascination overcame me however as I watched this armadillo army scatter over the foot plot, skittering in every direction while squirrels barked and birds flushed hither and thither. We don’t have armadillos in Minnesota. In fact, we even say the word differently "uppa-da-nort". A while ago the turkeys in the woods had been alarm putting and squirrels chattered in protest. I figured there to be a bobcat or other predator about. Instead there were these whirling dervish ‘dillos. They left as soon as they arrived, save two who entertained me with a mating ritual under my tree. I felt like a voyeur. Who’da thunk armadillos were in rut. I sat down and watched the sun set on the amorous armored duo. I was still coming down from my sustained adrenalin high, something that should be illegal if anyone knew how sweet it was or how long effects last afterwards. God forbid I should ever have to drive right after a kill shot. I can barely walk.
My close encounter with armadillos was at Master Rack in Alabama where the weather was very warm for November. We were all waiting for the promised cold front because the heat and a full moon had made the whitetails mostly nocturnal. Three weeks before, several of this same group had met at Heartland Outfitters in the golden triangle area of Illinois for the archery whitetail hunt. Tara Wildlife in Mississippi was the final hunt of the season, and was timed during the second rut so we saw lots of action.
At the Tara hunt in January 2004, we were surprised by the appearance of hunting personality, Michael Waddell with his cameraman filming for his "Road Trips" outdoor show. Now I must confess, I don’t watch much TV so Mr. Waddell was new to me and I didn’t know what to expect. What I did find out is that he, like the rest of our gang, was down to earth and ready to have some old fashioned fun at the expense of his dignity. He hunted hard for the entire time he was at Tara and got a lot of video of both his and us ladies hunting. The NHB’s are serious hunters, but we are serious fun lovers too. We set up and filmed a mock arrest of Michael supposedly poaching a booker "Possu-lope", and even had the local game warden in on the deal.
Slang We Don’t Have In Minnesota
I always enjoy my education to terms unique to Southern US culture.
My baptism to Southern colloquialisms was an Oklahoma deer hunt with my friend Mark Banta three years ago, where I picked up such terms as "full as a tick", "dim road" and "laying cable". My southern lady hunter friends taught me the following new hunting terms in 2003:
"Hook Daddy" – A large racked buck that hooks its antlers when making a rub
"Sad Daddy" – A buck with a rack so large, its head droops so he looks sad
"Whoop Sanged" – made a good kill shot, as in "she whoop sanged that deer".
"Black Cat Syndrome" - Unfounded or superstitious fear in the woods
"Can Drive" – a deer drive where cans full of pebbles or rocks are rattled to push deer around
"Turned Inside Out" – what a deer looks like when it jumps the string
October © 2004