Monday, March 4

I miss hunting! Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t miss killing an animal and I never did enjoy that dark, nasty part of the tradition or sport as some may call it. I never considered it even remotely close to a sport, because where else does participation in any other sport (with the exception of fishing) include killing some living creature. It is not sport. It is a need, a tradition…Habit, custom or ritual. In other words, an event that was necessary for supplying food for the table to feed my kids when money was tight. In the seventies, through the mini depression of 1980, the dollars in a person’s pocket just didn’t go as far as they needed to, so hunting and trapping was a mainstay for many country folks. We hunted and survived by augmenting food for our tables with wild game, therefore allowing our money to go further toward paying other living expenses.
Seriously, anyone that enjoys killing an animal, removing its insides, dragging it to their vehicle, worrying about blood and crap getting all over their vehicle until getting it home, hanging it, skinning it and cutting it all up for use as food is demented! First off, killing the animal is the worst feeling and all the other work involved is dirty and hard. I would much rather going into the market and buying my meat cut and wrapped, ready to go when we reach home. I am in no way saying that hunting or killing that animal is wrong or un-necessary, because every piece of meat we all buy in the supermarket was alive and walking not long ago and was simply killed by another. To think hunting is wrong when I buy meat in a store in hypocritical to say the least! What I miss is the hunting. I miss being alone in the woods, watching and listening to nature in its own element. I enjoyed chickadees in the same tree I was sitting in, actually having several land on my hat, shoulders or arm, as they cocked their little heads from side to side, wondering what I was. I miss watching deer, rabbits, squirrels and other small animals ambling by during their normal daily existence. One of the reasons I don’t go out any longer is that I feel a little uneasy about being there without a weapon and I’m not purchasing a hunting license to go out and sit and watch wildlife. Now may people will tell me that I don’t need a weapon because there is nothing in the woods to fear, but I always bring to mind an incident that happened with a guy that worked for me years ago. He asked me where he could go near my home to hunt for deer. I lived very near a state game lands area, which was open to hunting. I frequently hunted there myself and always saw deer. My friend decided to go and scout around for a good stand from which to hunt, so I suggested he follow “School House Trail” from the roadway where he could park, all the way to “Morehouse Hollow”, which was just off the side of an old logging road at the top. He did so, finding a large tree to lean against near the head of the hollow. All he had with him was a binocular, because he was only scouting (like I would only be sitting and watching wildlife) for deer. He was there for an hour and enjoyed seeing several deer as they meandered along the trail leading down along the side of the hollow ravine. About an hour into his “scouting”, he heard leaves rustling…and standing very still, the rustling became louder and louder. Now, this is the excitement of hunting, as the quarry comes closer and closer…not knowing you are there, as you hide, waiting to see what is approaching. I have actually heard my own heartbeat at this time and thought it was going to explode when a large buck walking into view, thinking that it should actually hear my heartbeat too, as loud as it seemed. Anyway my friend crouched and waited, with binocular in hand, watching and waiting to see something materialize before him. THEY DID!   Two playful black bear cubs rounded a tree about thirty yards to his left, just beyond a dense clump of mountain laurel. Instantly, the hair on the back of his neck stood up. He stood to view the mother bear of some three hundred plus pounds, approximately forty yards to his right, leaving him standing beside that tree, between her and her cubs. NOT GOOD! My friend immediately dropped the binoculars and climbed the tree like a monkey in a banana picking race.
When you look down and see this....
You're in the WRONG PLACE!
 Somewhere around the twenty foot mark, as he planted his right foot into a big “V” notch between two limbs, the mother bear chomped down upon the calf of his left leg as he continued to climb as fast as he could. She pulled…trying to yank him from the tree, but lost her grip on his leg as he tore it from her grasp. He continued kicking her on the nose with his foot every time she tried to grab him again. Further up the tree was another “V” notch where he could again anchor himself in a place where the tree was much thinner. There, she would not have a lot of tree trunk for her claws to dig into or cling to. Up he scampered, bleeding like a stuck pig…the bear behind him, growling and popping her teeth as she climbed. She was moving slower now, because the skinny tree did not afford her much to grip and she slide back down occasionally, allowing my friend the time needed to make it to the “V” notch and anchor himself securely. There he stood, with a three hundred pound bear three feet below him…growling, snarling and popping her teeth as she madly drooled, as his blood dripped all over her head below. Every time she moved closer, he would savagely kick her on the nose, being careful to yank his foot back quickly so she could not latch onto it. Finally, the bear quieted down as she heard the bawling of her two cubs, which were both in a tree, forty yard across from her. She slid down the tree in a second and was at the foot of the tree that contained her cubs. With a snarl and a woof, they slid down the tree and the three of them headed to the woods road, where they disappeared. My friend stood in that tree wondering what to do. What if he climbed down the tree and headed for his car and ran into the bears again. He was sure she would kill him, for his leg was now beginning to hurt badly and the bleeding seemed profuse. He was afraid to stay in the tree, because somewhere along the line he would pass out from loss of blood if he didn’t do something to stop the bleeding and being on the ground to bandage it with his handkerchief was too risky too. After a half hour, he saw a guy on the road, riding his horse. He began screaming for help and the guy immediately came through the woods on the horse to see what was wrong. My friend told his story and the guy told him to climb down and he would take him to his car and that the bears would not bother them on horseback. Within minutes, he was at his car where they bandaged his leg and he was on his way to the hospital. He got thirty seven stitches, a tetanus shot and his first of a series of rabies shots. He blamed me because I suggested that spot to hunt. Go figure…but in retrospect, I now feel naked going into the woods without a firearm. Especially at my age when I can’t run, can’t climb and don’t fight as well as I used to or heal quite as quick either… Hmmmmm, what to do, what to do? Stay home in front of the pellet stove?     
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