I checked my gun to be sure a round was chambered and carefully lowered myself to the ground to take a prone shooting position. My intended target was a mere 15 feet away. I felt bonded with my gun as I took aim with open sites, controlled my breathing which had now quickened, and slipped my finger through the trigger guard in preparation to squeeze off a shot. I had a sense of animosity for that which was in my sites. It was payback time. I had never done anything like this before: put a guilty party on a firing line with the full intent of blowing them to smithereens. I felt like Rambo. But sometimes, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Sometimes an offense is not just worthy of punishment; it is worthy of death.
My quarry gave an ominous groan, flipped over, and croaked. The boys behind me gave a “Yee-Haw!” as I ran to check the accuracy of my shot. One half inch off center. Not bad for open sites. When I picked up my target, a few springs popped out in all directions and it started to wildly buzz and ring. The boys were laughing hysterically now.
"It¹s doing the death moan!", I bellowed and laughed at the same time. For the first 6 years in our cabin, we had no electricity and relied on wind-up alarm clocks to wake us for deer hunting. However, the two clocks we relied upon had both decided to quit working the second day of deer firearms opener and we got on our stands an hour late. Hence, I made the executive decision to put them out of their misery. My .22 rifle was the perfect weapon to insure we were never tempted to use them again. So we killed time, so to speak, by taking turns hammering the poor wind-ups with about 20 rounds of ammo.
The boys had arrived the night before opener with all their hunting gear. We do not have a well or septic, but because I write a lot and spend considerable time here, I recently had DSL put in. When the guys arrived, I was typing away and looked up sheepishly, having gotten caught surfing the net when I should have been arranging my gear. Before I could say a word, they sported big grins and each whipped out their laptops, asking if I had a security code on my wireless network. Ah, the pressure was off. Needless to say, having the New Generation of fellow internet junkies for hunting buddies was great! The guys are addicts to a game called "World of Warcraft", and I mostly do writing and business stuff, but deer camp was sure different this year. We sat around with our machines on the network, and had a grand old time chattering and surfing. Years ago my son and I tent-camped in subzero weather, froze out seats off, but I’ve written enough about that in other articles, so I won¹t repeat it in this one. And while technology and luxuries like electricity have made hunting more comfortable and fun, the core values of why we hunt remain the same and continue on. The extended times together with our hunting buddies is an opportunity for camaraderie that is found few other places. We don’t have TV and the radio stations are poor quality on a good day. That leaves two things: One, our time in the woods, each of us alone and enjoying God’s creation in a way a person cannot enjoy it anywhere else on earth; and two, the shared time at day’s end, with a fire in the fireplace, telling jokes and stories, eating too much food and laughing till our cheeks hurt. And hopefully there is one or more dead deer when all is said and done.
Matt got a spike buck on opener this year and true to course, asked if I would gut it. Since he has much less experience with deer surgery, I was happy to oblige. Further, the guys still get the gags with the process and I don’t, so I am happy to do it. This year however, I was writing a “how to” article on field dressing and needed someone else to take the photos since I would be elbow deep in whitetail viscera.. Matt looked a little apprehensive, but agreed. There was method in my madness however. I knew that if he was just going to photo journalize field dressing, he would get desensitized to the gross factor of it. He would also learn how to do it quickly and well because he would not be distracted with his own disgust. Last year, his buddy, Nate, was getting the dry heaves in the camp bushes when I gutted Matt’s deer, but this year Nate stood and watched with interest and without turning green.
Deer camp is a New Generation as it has evolved over the years, but the basic spirit of it is still one of my favorite things in life. I know when I’m so old I cannot hunt anymore, I will have the memories of "killing time", teaching field dressing with a camera, and laughing so hard my cheeks hurt. It is said that the soul-filling fellowship we have here on earth, is a taste of what heaven will be like someday. And I must agree that heaven on earth is many things, but for me especially, it is the shared camaraderie of deer camp.
© December 2007