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Inside the Chrome Dome (archive November 2007)

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 I'm Going to Try This Hunting Thing One More Time

I’m going to go hunting.

Deer hunting. With a gun.

I’ve only been once, and as I remember it, things didn’t work out all that well.

I was running a newspaper in Central Missouri in the late 1980’s, and agreed to go on a trip with three buddies. They had planned an outing that would include a long drive to the North Fork River in Northern Arkansas, where we would park our vehicle, ride a bus upstream, and canoe down to a cabin in the middle of nowhere. From there we would hunt for a couple of days, and then canoe back to the vehicle.

This was a roughing it trip to the extreme.

The outing was well-planned because the guys who brought me were true outdoorsmen. Rex, who was a Southwestern Bell regional manager, was the leader of the group. Also along for the trip was Mike, the manager of the local cable television company; John, a chiropractor; and me, a newspaper publisher.

I’ve never really mentioned that hunting trip because I didn’t think it was worth talking about. No one managed to bag a deer, although I saw several from my perch in a tree.

It was bow hunting season and I had never shot a bow and arrow. They patiently worked with me and let me practice on a target. I thought, as I sat in that tree, about how stupid it was for me to practice from a standing position on the ground if I had to shoot down from a tree stand when it really counted. Oh well, it wasn’t my plan.

I saw a rather big deer on the first day. I managed to shoot at it two times before the second arrow was close enough to spook the animal and it ran away. I could pull the arrow back with no trouble, but I wasn’t strong enough to hold it in that position long enough to get a clear shot when the deer moved into position. When you sit behind a desk all day drinking coffee, well, let’s just say there’s not a lot of upper body strength available.

After six or seven seconds of extending the bow, the arrows just eventually shot off on their own. We never found the arrows I shot, probably because they were camouflage and blended in well with the forest they would forever call home.

The second day my buddies supplied me with uniquely-colored arrows. As the old saying goes, “Make it idiot-proof and someone will make a better idiot.” I managed to lose those arrows too.

The first night we were at the cabin our foursome decided to walk roughly one mile over a hill to a small neighboring town in hopes of visiting the local watering hole. Keep in mind this was Northern Arkansas in the Ozark Mountain Region.

The little town, about the size of Dunreith, had a small bar, as well as more than its share of unusual characters. Let’s just say the local gene pool could have used a little chlorine.

There was a juke box in the corner playing Loretta Lynn’s “You’re the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly,” and the locals reacted to our walking through the door as if we were there to eat their children.

Without saying a word we made the unanimous decision to head right back down the mountain toward our cabin, using Mike’s multi-purpose compass that was capable of pointing in any direction. Four hours later it was daylight and we finally found our cabin. We saw more deer than we could count on the trip back, but once we set up in the deer stands, we saw no more.

Then when we returned to our cabin that evening, everything was gone, including our clothes, our food, and even worse, our rented canoes.

That was my first hunting trip and occurred, ironically, 20 years ago this month. It was without saying, a complete disaster.

Thieves stole everything, no one got a deer, and we had to pay $600 apiece for the two canoes.

This time I’m simplifying everything. No bows and arrows. No canoes. No North Fork of the White River in Arkansas with the three-inch-deep gene pool.

I can sit in a tree and freeze half to death in the woods behind my sister’s house in Southern Indiana.

It’s not going to matter where I’m hunting because, being blind in my right eye, I can’t aim a shotgun anyway.

It should be interesting. I’ll keep you posted.






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