While I freely admit to sometimes being the female Weird Al Yankovic of the forest, I truly do make an effort to be serious about my hunting sports. After years of hunting, being an outdoor writer, and now heading up a hunting related business, I am supposed to ooze confidence, wisdom and primitive suave faire. I'm supposed to have tales of trophy bucks and big adventure. Im supposed to make very few mistakes. I am supposed to aspire to belong to that elite group of hunters and entrepreneurs whom others want to emulate. I am supposed to have an ego the size of Texas, and I am supposed to have arrived. Alas, I must confess. I missed the train.
I have alluded to my proclivity for injury and disaster in previous writings - to wit - "Motor Horse" and "Adventures of a New Landowner, Chapter 2", among others. Also, I have previously stated or implied that I employ hyperbole for the sake of humor. I lied. All of my mis-adventures are true. I do have a remarkable knack for maiming myself and I often have things go so comically wrong that I reduce even myself to hysterical laughter at the folly of it all. There is something oddly endearing about a bumbling goof, even to the goof them self.
Thankfully I was hunting alone this particular weekend so there were no witnesses. I couldn't go to sleep the night before because I was so excited about the following mornings archery hunt. Reaching to smack the snooze button on my alarm clock, I got an unexpected adrenalin rush when I instead connected with an inverted trail marking tack. Stupid tacks. After the bleeding stopped, I scurried about like a red squirrel to get into my cammies on and gear loaded for the morning archery deer hunt, only slamming my shin once. Rain the night before had turned to mist, and the walk to my stand was silent, close and very dark. Once into the deep woods, my trail tacks had virtually disappeared from the moisture, with only a couple of my FireTacks being visible. I returned to the FireTacks many times to get my bearings, but after 45 minutes of wandering around lost in the dark unable to find my stand, every deer for miles undoubtedly knew there was a fool in the woods. As dawn brought clarity, I found the stand I had placed a month before, near a funnel along a thick tag alder swamp. I got in quietly and was determined that my luck would change. Once settled, I promptly sliced my thumb on a broadhead... the first time ever. Bleeding like a stuck pig, I sat there sucking my filleted digit till the sun came up, wondering if there was any truth to the rumor that female blood worked as a scent lure for whitetails. My question was soon answered as several curious (and I'm sure laughing) deer downwind of me wheezed and bolted. Of course I forgot bandaids, so after wrapping the lacerated appendage in toilet paper, I sat and mused at the dead silence of the woods, wrought by my numerous and audible blunderings.
Most of my hunting days and time spent in the woods are successful. I see many deer and other wildlife, and I usually have my act together. It does seem however, that I have an uncanny knack for hurting myself and I often have so many bumps, bruises, and pulled muscles that I could swear an unknown enemy somewhere had a voodoo doll in my likeness that they tortured daily. My Mom recently stood watching me and mused how she saw the same Little Linda at age four, walking quickly with focused resolve for an objective at hand, only to fall on her face having failed to notice an obstacle. In my own defense, weve all had those days, where things didnt click and where we might have been wiser to simply spend the day in our sleeping bag, eating crackers and watching TV.
My own blood and I are good buddies but fortunately, a high pain threshold keeps things in perspective. One benefit of being deep in the woods when a tree drops on your leg, a hammer connects with your thumb, or a limb whacks you in the head, is the unbridled freedom to express the pain via primal screaming. Plus, the hyperventilation of a good sustained howl quickens the endorphin rush that numbs the pain. More than once, my local adopted grandpas who own land near me, have come tearing up my road on a tractor or ATV to be sure my death cries werent real. I don't cuss and swear, but hollering to high heaven is therapeutic for pain much like the Bradley method is to childbirth. I have the same patterns of cuts and bruises on my shins at age 49 as I did when I was 10 years old. My dear non-hunting husband just shakes his head and chuckles when I come back from up north and do a cat walk to show off my latest contusions.
So, was chain sawing all those trees to make our road worth taking a 12 ounce tow hook in the face, lacerating my lip and later felling a tree on my quadriceps muscle? Was running full bore up that forest path last summer, just because it felt good, worth tripping and falling on my face because I didn't see that rock in the way? Was the adventure of scouting a new area of thick forest worth getting my eyes dive bombed by voracious mosquitoes and having to excise wood ticks from my derriere later in the day (the only place I didn't apply Deet)? Was the tree stand I just built worth bruising the same spot on my shin to the point where I look like I'd been beaten? Was moving 2 tons of bricks and 6 yards of Class 5 gravel by hand, worth getting double tendonitis? Was getting my first deer worth getting hypothermia? Was stand up riding on my ATV along our rough big swamp trail worth the whiplash I sustained when I jettisoned head over teakettle off the front of the quad as it stopped solid on a buried log? Was sitting in a ground blind bear hunting in a lightening storm alone last year worth getting my face spattered with hot bacon burn as the rain drops landed in it?
Oh ya. It's all worth it. Besides, as a female, I can always cover everything up with flesh colored putty and a long skirt. Yes, I will Dare to be Stupid till my dieing day... which given my love affair with disaster, might be sooner than my Maker had in mind. They may someday find me frozen solid in my tree stand, but I will have a huge smile on my face, I guarantee you.