Monday, November 15, 2010
This morning I awoke early and rolled over, snuggling up to Hugh. He stirred so I asked him what time it was.
“About 2 AM.” That meant a few more hours of sleep were available before he’d be rousing with the noises of breakfast being made. But my mind got thinking about the morning’s prehunt preparations — Did I have everything on the list? Did I forget anything? Are all my clothes set out? My brain continued to keep me awake with thoughts about sitting in the deer blind, waiting for a buck to come along for me to shoot it. Then it was thoughts about my office and clients and how was I to get more than 5 clients on the schedule for this week? I can’t make a living on five a week. Could I sell my Shelter Island writings somewhere? To a magazine? To a publisher as a book? Regardless of what would financially happen, we’d figure it out.
“Oh, Brain, be quiet PLEASE! I want to go back to sleep.” I scolded myself, knowing in all actuality that shouting at my body wasn’t going to help. That got me thinking about how I need to work more on my book for clients, as there is a section about talking and explaining rather than shouting at one’s body is much more effective. It seemed that Hugh was soon out of bed preparing a simple but hearty oatmeal breakfast; just as I was finally falling back asleep. Oh well, that’s what a nap is for.
We arrived, surrounded by darkness, at the deer blind about fifty minutes after leaving the house. It was now about 6:30 AM. Rifle season would officially open at 6:59 AM. We spread the apples Hugh had bought on Friday, which a little red squirrel at the house had chewed a hole in the bag and then proceeded to steal about a dozen apples. Hugh scattered some field corn as well. We then tucked into the blind; binoculars, juice and snacks in easy reach and rifles waiting to be put to use.
The light began to illuminate more clearly the outlines of the trees and the deer bait scattered twenty yards away.
“Don’t be surprised if there’s a deer standing right there (eating the bait) when it gets light,” Hugh whispered.
Dawn, with each blink, became brighter. The yellow and red of the apples spread before us on the ground could be discerned. We waited. We waited without moving a muscle, trying to not make a sound. Our breath sounded strong in my ears. Would a deer be able to hear us inside the blind? I nuzzled under my neck warmer to muffle the sound.
Hugh started quietly licking his lips and quickly retracting his tongue. I smile at how cute this makes him look. This is his nonverbal way of telling me that he is hungry. He does this when he knows I have some type of snack at hand.
Sunday afternoon when I was packing for my newest adventure – deer hunting – I asked Hugh what kind of snacks he would like me to pack. I tend to prefer sweet, he likes more savory. I like anything with carbs while he prefers more protein rich.
“Quiet and not smelly” was his reply.
I interpreted this as soft is good, such as dried fruit, crunchy is not good, such as chips. I mixed up some gorp, heavy on the nuts, and put that in the backpack. In went some dried papaya and dried figs. I cut a couple chunks of not-too-stinky cheese, for a good does of protein and warming fat. And a couple of Cliff bars also went in the backpack. I hesitatingly put in small bottle each of orange juice and cider and water.
Like most women, my bladder capacity is not large; well not as large as most men’s. I know that a cup of tea or glass of juice will want to escape within about an hour of consumption. I knew that is would not be easy to relieve myself from breakfast’s beverage of choice once I was clad in my long johns, flannel jeans, and Carhartt overalls. (Quite honestly, men sometime have it a lot easier — think empty bottle.) Out of doors, I am not above dropping my trousers and carefully squatting. But I knew that it would not be easy while sitting silently sitting in a deer blind. The juice and water was just in case either one of us got really thirsty. This would be a time when I rather be uncomfortable from thirst than a bladder screaming that it is ready to burst.
Hugh is hungry. I recite to him the menu. He decides that figs sound really good. As quietly as possible I pull the figs out of my bag. I hand him a fig and take one myself. Mmmm, it tastes delightful. It had been a long time since either one of us had had figs. They are not available on Drummond Island and the last time I was at the health food store in Sault Sainte Marie (aka the Soo) they were out of stock. I had recently been in Baltimore and had shipped us these figs, along with other goodies that are unobtainable in the wilds of the Upper Peninsula.
Munch! Munch! Munch!
This was not the munching, though, that I had wanted to hear. I want to hear a buck munching on the apples and corn in front of the deer blind. This munching came from inside my head. My teeth crunched the tiny fig seeds. I never realized how noisy figs could be. Yes they may sound good, they also sound really loud.
I stop chewing so I could listen to Hugh. Do those little fig seeds sound as loud coming from him as I thought mine did?
Sure enough, Hugh is munching away just as noisily as I thought I was. Oh well it was too late now; I certainly was not going to tell Hugh to spit it out. I hope the deer do not hear us chomping away on our figs.
A little while later a doe comes up not more than eight feet along the side of the blind. I spot her and quietly nudge Hugh as she was not in his direct line of sight. She is so close to the blind that we could have reached out and petted her. She is not our prey, I remind myself. It is a buck we are after and hopefully he will be following her. She grazes a little on the corn but ignores the apples before she meanders off as if she had not a care in the world.
“Bang!” A rifle fires in the woods. Someone nearby hopefully got their buck. It is about ten minutes after seven o’clock. Deer season is now definitely open. The sun is rising higher and the woods are getting brighter. Still plenty of time, time to sit and wait. And wait. And sit.
As I sit there I mentally go through the list of what to do when I see my buck. Quietly raise the rifle to my shoulder. Aim. Take off the safety. Pull back the hammer. Aim. Hold my breath and slowly squeeze and not close my eyes in anticipation of the noise. Over and over I visualize myself doing these steps, slowly, smoothly and confidently. I visualize seeing my buck and aiming for his shoulder that he so thoughtfully presents broadside to me. Aim, safety, hammer, aim, breath, squeeze, hit! I see him in my mind’s eye stumble half a step forward and collapse, not knowing what happened, quickly dying.
There are moments when I realize I have been sitting there just gazing at the woods. A zen-like meditation, listening to the constant wind in the trees, just enjoying the process of being. Noises here and there catch my attention; bringing me back to the task at hand – deer spotting and hunting. What had that crack been? A tweeking of tree branches overhead, two trees rubbing against each other, blown by the wind. The more I listen the more I am lulled into the sounds of the woods. Squirrels scamper by and blue jays visit the corn.
Time passes but the buck does not show.
“Ready?” Hugh asks.
I am very willing to stay, it is easy to be there in the middle of the woods. Spirit is willing but my butt is anxious to leave. I am quite happy when Hugh says that the sun is now too high up.
We would come back later this afternoon to chickadees, jays, nut hatches and squirrels putting on a show for us. Again, no buck.
After a very long dusk, Hugh said it was time to go, there was not any more good shooting light. Disappointed about not seeing any deer to shoot I wanted to argue that I could still see. But I knew there was no sense, safety first.
Later on the way home Hugh said “Well I guess they are carrot deer not apple deer” referring to the fact that the apples we put out this morning were not touched by the single doe we saw nor any other animal midday or this evening. Hugh had also scattered a bag of apples on the path by a deer rub that he had found by the north dock. With the exception of a few squirrel chews, they remained virtually untouched.
Or maybe they were smart deer and knew that cedar and birch trees did not produce apples. But that would not explain why the carrots had continually been eaten. Tomorrow, Tuesday, after seeing clients I will go get more carrots to put out. Or maybe I will splurge and get some acorns – but then the squirrels might really like those and not leave any for the buck.