To me a “sport” is something a person does for recreation to help them stay active and in shape. I beg to differ that hunting was NOT a sport, until this past weekend.
My family is comprised of hunters. Not the, “yeah, let’s go out in the woods during hunting season and shoot an a cocky male deer whose been bossing everyone around, and talk about it the rest of the year.” No friends, we are talking about a cult of men who are determined that they can read the minds of all the deer and fancy-free friends in the woods.
Months and even years of preparation have gone into the placement of each deer stand, ranking the correct clothing to wear, and how to shower properly. Inevitably the direction of the winds is always the determining factor making or breaking a good hunt.
Oh yes, and hunting is a year long sport. You see bow hunting starts around late September or something, and then there is always gun hunting, promptly followed by muzzleloader season, who is reacquainted with bow hunting again, until I think the end of January. When they aren’t in the woods, they are scheming how, who, when and where…
In my awkward tween-er years, I would have been out there with them adorned in my beautiful blaze orange, equipped with some hand-me-down gun and piece of paper pinned to my back making me official. It was my way of trying to hang out with the boys. But as years progressed, going to the mall became such a better idea, so I abolished the time spent freezing my butt off in the woods.
Looking back now I never realized the insanity of it all. My brothers have about 600 acres of prime hunting land at their disposal. They hypothesize the perfect conditions and like a scientific experiment continue this century long process of trial and error trying to create them, of which coincidence do not occur!
During the spring months they trek through the woods looking for antlers that have fallen off last years bucks (to determine how big they are going to be this year, I would guess?) and scout new locations for “stands” which equate to freakishly looking hunks of metal with a long pipe with pegs supporting a platform that sits against a tree. During the summer months they construct these 3 ton contractions and haul them out into the woods to set them up, and reposition them 40 times in 7 different locations on opposite ends of the property before they are official stands. Each of these stands is given a name, and I’m not sure of their criteria, but they aren’t so helpful to me. For example- we have “low-rider” and “Golden chair” of which I’m sure is key to their survival, but to me…not ta!
I bet if I tracked the hours spent educating each other on their tactics and propaganda it would be years, even decades thus far. And that’s just the planning piece. When it comes time to the actual hunt the poor guys can’t even sleep. My oldest brother paces the room like a meth addict on a binge. My older and younger brother have a sudden appreciation for time. My now husband, even adopts new showering practices to remove the human scent. No matter the weather they sit in frigid temperatures in hopes that a big deer with horns on it’s head will walk out in front of them so they can shoot it. Now if that isn’t on the list of symptoms for psychiatric help, I don’t know what is!
Well in the past few years, I’ve decided I really don’t get out frolicking in the woods so much, so I’d see if they need help. Every year on Thanksgiving day they do a drive through the woods, and as much as I wished it was, it isn’t the kind on the 4-wheeler. No this is a few people who walk a VERY SPECIFIC predetermined route in the woods towards other guys who are sitting in tree stands. The goal is the people walking will scare the deer towards the guys sitting in the deer stand. And hope they don’t shoot anyone in the process.
So this is my new Thanksgiving tradition. I get all gussied up in my cold weather camo/blaze orange gear, equipped with a plethora of hand and foot warmth technology. Layered in clothing of sweat adsorbent dual purpose as a protection from frost bite. I meet up with the boys after they oversleep and conjugate plans in their own heads about how things should be done. Together they devise a plan fluent in a foreign language with each other, complete with maps and drawings in the ground with sticks and rocks. The time spent is equivalent to 40-hour work week for any government agency… and we are on our way (only 2 hours behind schedule, and 3 hand warmers later).
I’m dropped off in the woods with very specific instructions from the commander-in-chief himself and head on my merry way….
…keeping the sun just over my left shoulder, wandering through thickets of thorn bushes slapping me in the face, tripping over logs covered in tall grass, and protruding the snow covered ice only to retrieve my sewer smelling wet leg and keep walking for a few hours.
Hmm, Is this seriously what I signed up for? I asked to partake in this…By the end of the first drive we had dead deer cemetery laying all around that there just wasn’t enough time left to do the next drive so we regrouped an walked back out into the woods to find all the dead dear, just as we were approaching dinner time.
My brother calculated that I probably walked over 6 miles in the roughest terrain on the property and “did exactly what I was supposed to do!” I guess that explains my knees that are killing me, the waterfall potruding from my forhead and the stiff shoulder that I am currently experiencing. Oh yes, add in a cup of wheezing and pinch of a sore throat and we call that a good time.
Did I mention that I was asleep like a champ at 9:00 PM and decided to get up and brave the outlet mall the next morning instead! I guess if you walk through the conditions I did to stir up a few deer hunting might be worthy to be called a sport…but the guys sitting in a tree getting a hard-on over the deer that bounce up in front of them clearly need to find a new way to get excited!
Actually, I did have so much fun watching the boys in action that I volunteered to do it all over again on Saturday. It doesn’t mean I understand, but I figure if they apprecaite me wandering in the woods, perhaps I’ll get a higher allowance for shopping 😉