It’s that time of the year. Autumn leaves, crisp mornings, and the male of the species at his arrogant peak.
Steam spouts from his nostrils into the frosty air as he paws the earth. He bellows forth his challenge and strides both boldly yet cautiously through the forest to meet the challenges of the season.
Testosterone levels are at their peak. Caution is thrown to the wind as the presence of a challenger to their dominance is sensed.
Just to clear up any confusion, I’m not talking about a trophy bull moose or a 12-point buck. I’m describing the behaviour of the great white (or any other shade) hunter.
Here in Drizzle Creek, they stride confidently into the bakery, most any hour of the day, decked out in their blaze orange togs, except for the crafty bow hunter in full camouflage.
Shuffling up to the debating table, their arrogance, pre- or post-hunt, is only distinguishable by the odour (or lack thereof) that only a week in a hunting camp can instill.
“Pickle,” who was a full 21 years of age before he realized you could shoot a deer other than at night (and without a flashlight), was cool and nonchalant.
“A bull and a calf, of course. It’s all we had tags for,” he offered off-hand, before launching into a half-hour speech on the wile and cunning required to bag the trophies.
Pickle has become a pillar of sportsmanship and now follows all hunting regulations to a T. After all, his brother and hunting partner is a game warden.
When snorts of disbelief greeted some of his details, he hesitated not a whit.
“Well, what part of my story didn’t you like, anyways? Tell me and I’ll change it,” he offered as he sucked in another mouthful of hi-test.
Pickle had to take this tack as his fishing partner, “The Runt,” no longer hunts and couldn’t vouch for him.
Recent reports of Sasquatch sightings have somewhat unnerved The Runt. Although there is no official season on them, he’s concerned some wild hunter on an adrenalin high might mistake him for the legendary Bigfoot and drop him while he was sitting innocently on a stump in the cut.
“I’m just too close to the pension to be taking those kind of risks,” he philosophized as he ordered a second serving of flaxseed toast and peanut butter.
Personally, even yours truly joined the hunt this year after an absence of several seasons.
On the first morning in camp, Norm and Rick took me for a “Hollywood Hunt,” cruising the bush roads in a vehicle while they explained what areas they would push the following day and where marksmen would be posted.
As I am slow and old, as well as a questionable shot, I was crammed into the centre of the front bench with Rick and Norm on the doors, ready to jump out in a split-second and drop any trophy unlucky enough to show itself.
“Now remember, we only have bull tags so be really careful. NO COWS!” stressed Norm for about the 20th time as we bounced along rut and pothole heaven.
“Now we’ll push in from that ridge on the other side of the swamp and maybe we’ll scare up a moose. If you post along here, you could get a good shot at a . . . MOOSE!” exclaimed Norm as the truck bounced over another rock and skidded to a halt.
“Look there! Just 100 yards!” he whispered at about 100 decibels as he and Rick piled out of the truck, simultaneously slamming clips into their rifles.
I followed behind, trying to untangle by legs from the gearshift and the binocular strap, eventually making it to a firing location. I loaded up but didn’t lift the scope.
I’d leave this one to the professionals.
“Has it got horns? Has it got horns? Has it got hhhhh-horns?” stammered Norm as he whipped back the bolt to chamber a shell.
Too late he remembered he’d disassembled his rifle the prior evening, and forgotten to re-insert the bolt-retaining pin. He whipped the bolt clear out of the rifle a good two feet.
An arc of shells sprayed up out of the clip and descended into a mud puddle.
He scrambled to reassemble and reload, all the while asking, “Has it got horns? Has it got horns? Has it got hhhh-horns?”
“I don’t know. I can’t see it!” exclaimed Rick, who was trying to peer through his scope. Then realizing he still had the lens covers on, snorted in disgust and sent them flying into the mud puddle.
The moose determined to win a Darwin award waited patiently.
Finally, Norm had his rifle reassembled and aimed. Rick had his scope focused on target.
“Has he got horns?” Norm asked once more.
“Yes! Positively,” replied Rick firmly.
“Well shoot it then, d@#$#%!” exploded Norm.
BOOM! BOOM! We had meat.
Now if there’s some part of my story you don’t like, well tell me about it and I’ll change it.
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