Friday, December 28, 2012

Hunting Stories: How I Became the Dog

Bandera, Texas (The Kyle Ranch)

**People hunt and fish so that they have good stories to tell around the cave, campfire, or dining room table—besides all the other reasons people hunt and fish (see the little star things at the beginning of this sentence.)

I love the hunting and the fishing for the stories.

First, I want to say that hunting is hard. Contrary to the perception perpetuated by people who eat chickens and cows clonked on the head by other people, hunting is like finding a needle in a giant wilderness and shooting at it while the needle turns invisible. Animals are slicker than an eel’s fanny at getting away.

Second, hunting is hard. I had no idea how hard it was. On a recent hunting trip to Kyle Ranch (a little slice of Texas heaven) I was left breathless at how challenging it can be to shoot invisible needle-like animals. Literally, breathless.

As our guide drove us over, up, down, and through thousands of acres of bouncing Texas hill country looking for ground venison, I found myself in the backseat of the pickup truck. The pickup bristled with weapons. My husband rode “shotgun” with a rifle. I hung my head out of the backseat window. As every jouncing mile passed, my adrenalin ratcheted up. My soaring excitement might have been visible from space. 

I sniffed the wind. The smell of Texas cedar filled my bloodstream. My head swiveled as I scanned the heavy underbrush. I quit blinking. I started to pant. My thundering heart threatened to crack ribs. Blood pounded in my head.

Then I saw it. It was a giant, staring, frozen whitetail deer not hiding, completely visible, looking at me. I went on point, stuck my finger out of the window, and in a normal sort of voice (neither loud nor soft) I said, “Right there.”

She bounded away before I could say a bad word, which I did say—loudly.

She bounded away like a wild animal confident that she was 1) not the kind we were looking for 2) faster than a speeding bullet, and 3) able to become a see-through needle any old time she wanted.

My husband turned around, reached out, patted me on the head, and said, “Good eyes. Good eyes.”

That’s when I realized that I’d become the dog.

And that’s my first hunting story.

Linda (What a good girl!) Zern

**People also hunt and fish to match wits with animals who are able to hide behind branches the size of matchsticks, to provide lean chemical free meat for their families, and to earn their supper the old fashioned way by stealth and skill rather than clonking.

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