From Connections: We interrupt this marriage . . .

By Darlene Warren

BIG SANDY, Texas--A few weeks ago everyone in my family began to plan for that special time of year that is now upon us. Nestled between Halloween and Christmas is a day that draws us closer to God and nature, a time of great anticipation and celebration. It's a day that can either be humbling or exalting or maybe a little bit of both. That's right, Opening Day of Deer Season.

Since Labor Day weekend I have had the dubious distinction of being in charge of field management. That means it's my job to diligently watch the skies and seed the pastures at the first sign of rain. Of which, by the way, we have seen very little.

You can sow seed as soon as the weather cools a bit and there's a little moisture in the ground. The "experts" whom I am surrounded by tell me the best time to put seed out is when it is actually raining. Huh? Best time for what?

You see, the idea is to seduce the deer to come nibble on the luscious green grass that's growing directly under your deer stand. (Which is basically a box nailed to a tree.) Hopefully they'll come close enough so you can pick them off with little or no difficulty.

If no one in your family deer-hunts, you don't know what you're missing. It can be a great way to spend some quality time together. Let me fill you in.

First, it's imperative that you keep attuned to developing weather trends. A hunt will be successful only if it is undertaken on the coldest, dreariest, most miserable day of the year. I'm not quite sure why that is. I guess maybe the deer think a person would have to be a complete idiot to go out on such a day, and therefore the deer are caught off guard.

Second, before you go to bed on the eve of your hunt you must go through the house screaming to whoever will listen: "Have you seen my hunting vest? I left it right here on this doorknob the last time I used it [the previous hunting season], and now it's gone."

This is when the real hunt begins. This is where the quality time comes in for your family: You're communicating.

Next, there's all the other paraphernalia you must locate in order to sneak up on a deer. I'm talking about camouflage coveralls, camouflage gloves, camouflage boots and, of course, the all-important camouflage makeup. You are about to witness the worst case of cosmetic application since the ruling reversals of the '70s and '80s.

Oh, one thing in regards to the hunt before the hunt: When you're standing on a chair inside the closet rooting around on the top shelf for hunting gear and you happen to come across a tiny vial of something you don't recognize and your husband begins running toward you with outstretched hands shouting, "Don't open it! Don't open it!" it's best not to open it. Doe scent can be a powerful thing.

I never used to worry too much about my husband when he'd leave on a 10-day hunting trip with his buddies. I just figured there was safety in numbers and they would all return after having enjoyed a restful, relaxing hunt.

Now it's different. I'm a little leery. How many adult children have revealed to their parents their daring exploits years after they occurred? That's what I'm talking about. Again, you're communicating.

A few pointers on what not to do on your next hunt follows.

  • The first rule of gun safety is never to bring a loaded gun inside the house or, in this case, the tent. One member of the hunting party had a habit of double-checking his gun every night before he bedded down in his sleeping bag. He always took the pressure off the firing pin of his gun. You do this by pulling the trigger. One night in the mountains of Colorado a tent full of Texans installed a skylight.
  • Another group of hunters tells the story of seeing a herd of deer with a particularly massive buck in the midst of it. With their hearts racing and the adrenaline flowing, the hunters quickly emptied their chambers but still did not strike the buck.
One excited hunter reached into his pocket for more ammo, but, after reloading, his gun jammed. Later, back at camp, after the excitement had died down, the hunter discovered the reason for his gun malfunction. Instead of putting a shell in his gun chamber, he had shoved in a tube of Chapstick.
  • What about the high-tech hunter (we'll call him Paul) who was convinced he would stay warmer in his sleeping bag if he took all his clothes off? (Remember, this is Colorado in November when nighttime temperatures can dip into the 20s.)
The theory was that his body would give off heat, and in turn the heat would be trapped inside the sleeping bag, where he would repose toastily.
As it turned out, when Paul crawled out of his sleeping bag the next morning he was completely dressed. His dearest compadres couldn't keep from ribbing him by asking: "What's the matter? Did you get too hot?"

So, in summary, for a successful hunt, remember to wait for miserable weather, always unload your gun before entering the tent, and, by all means, keep your clothes on. Remind me sometime to tell you about the fun you can have when someone does accidentally shoot a deer and bring it home. It'll change your life.

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