“The scariest sound wasn’t the cough of a lion before it charged, or the rustle of a leopard as it leaped, but a ‘click’ when you expected a ‘BANG.'” – Peter Hathaway-Capstick
“When I get up at 05:00 in the morning to go fishing, I wake my wife up and ask, ‘What’ll it be dear, sex or fishing?’ And she says, don’t forget your waders. – Robert Ruark
A-MAZ-ING – Adjective – Causing great surprise or wonder; astonishing.
When you spend a good deal of your time in a tree, getting to a tree, sitting in a tree, after convincing yourself, that this tree, of all the trees on this wide planet earth, this single, particular tree, is the one that a deer will come close enough for you to use whatever armament you have armed yourself with.
You may very well, after spending hours in a tree seeing nothing, consider yourself to be on the delusional edge of statistical reality. The odds of you finding that one tree on the planet, that one tree in the universe, where you and a buck converge, statistically stacks up odds that are almost incalculable. If possible, can someone tell me how many trees there are in the universe? You have a far better statistical luck at buying a billion dollar winning Powerball ticket.
Yet, this act of defying insurmountable odds, trees intersecting with deer that is, takes place every day in November to hundreds of thousands of us who decide to trash statistical nonsense and buck the odds and pick a tree for sitting. That’s simply amazing!
There are incalculable hours spent in trees where you convince yourself that you have definitely selected the wrong tree. Again, all your logic, skill, knowledge and common sense have apparently fled the field. It’s an all too common feeling when nothing happens in a tree on a cold fall morning.
There is in each of us ‘tree sitters’ an internal dialog that fires up when boredom climbs your tree:
“Who in the family owes me money?”
Exactly how long have they owed that money?
“When did you check the oil in the Jeep last?”
“Why did the Jeep pull to the right so hard this morning?”
How many people are coming over to eat Thanksgiving?
“Will they bring their @#$% lap dogs again?”
“Why do white faced fox squirrels follow me to every tree I sit in?”
“How far will I have to walk before my toes regain consciousness?”
What time is it?
“Why haven’t the deer shown up?”
This insidious internal dialog sometimes goes on for cold, dry hours until something simply amazing transpires;
Look down there! There’s a piece of a deer!”
“Buck or do?”
“Why didn’t it make any noise?”
“These leaves are so dry, it’s like walking on potato chips.”
What do we do now? Grunt or wait?
“Where did it go?”
How could it have disappeared like that?
“Where is it?”
“What just happened?”
If I had a nickel for every tree I ever sat in, a nickel for every piece of deer I thought I had seen, if I had a nickel for every piece of deer I saw magically disappear into thin air, I could more than likely retire with the likes of Elon and Bezos and become a notable low level philanthropist. Elon and Bezos would probably say, ‘He beat the most unfathomable odds today. He actually saw the image of a deer from the very tree he thought he would actually see a deer, and then he inexplicably watched it vaporize into the ether. Give us all your nickels, moron!
There is an upside to seeing pieces of deer mysteriously vanish. The insidious internal dialog also disappears. That in itself is amazing.
Now you and your psyche are on full, DEFCON Level Three Alert. Every last one of your deteriorating senses slams into hyper-overdrive.
You now know that you’ve selected a decent tree. And, you know the deer are near. You must be very diligent not to become crosseyed looking for another piece of a huge rack of antlers. You have officially entered another altered state of consciousness. Now you have become the hunter. You have joined every hunter’s mind that preceded you in hunting. Imagine if you will, Old Thag, armed only with his trusty flint tipped spear, in a showdown with a cave bear twice his size and Old Thag hasn’t brought the little woman a decent meal in four sundowns. SHOW TIME BABY!
That is amazing.
How is it that an animal can inherently alter your state of consciousness with ease?
How many animals have the ability to alter your state of mind in such a manner?
The charge of the lion, the stampede of the Cape buffalo that desires so much to stomp you into a bloody pulp. I don’t know much more that what Ruark and Hathaway-Capstick have told me about “Death in the Long Grass,” but I figure it’s as similar a state of mind in Africa as it is in East Tennessee. No matter the continent, it is a hyper-altered state.
We should all be so lucky to witness the full strut of a spitting and drumming long beard at twenty yards, feel the steam from the lungs of a challenged bull elk, on the side of some Rocky Mountain, at elevations that take your breath away. And, we should all be so lucky to see the cautious and cautious approach of a heavy buck as he slips through crunchy leaves in some remote Tennessee hollow.
Only the word amazing does justice to these three things.
Amazing has a tendency to ratchet up two or three notches when you settle the crosshairs and slip off the safety. This simple action somehow suddenly forces you to become aware of your ability, or inability, to breathe. How often does this happen to you on a daily basis? How is it that an animal can make you suddenly become aware of your inability to control your simplest autonomic endeavors?
This is amazing!
Some shoot, some don’t. That is also amazing! Some know immediately, some spend agonizing amounts of time not knowing.
For those poor souls that don’t know immediately, the internal dialog returns like a seven man blitz. The dialog though is somewhat different this time around;
“Did I miss?”
“Was it a clean miss?”
Did I hear a crash over in that next hollow?
“Was there too much junk in the way for a clean shot?”
“Was the tail up or down when he went out of sight?”
“Should I sit here or go look?”
“What tree was he beside when I shot?”
“Why didn’t I wait until he was closer?”
“Did I $%^& this up?”
What time is it?
“How many hours till dark?”
The voices in your head run vigorously amok until you find your answers. That is amazing. Who cares what family members owe you money!
How is it that an animal on this planet, walking under that one tree, can do this to you? Alter you state of mind, year after year, year after year. How is this possible? Amazing isn’t it?
Some do it for the back-strap, or the tenderloin on the grill. Some do it to feed their ego so they can pound their chest or sell a video. Some do it because they can. Some just are thankful that they are still able to do it. Some do it for the altered state of consciousness that all this brings. Year after year after year.
WOMR note: Have an amazing Thanksgiving. Shoot straight! Keep your comments coming to email@example.com