I generally spare no time, trouble, or expense to do nice things for wife Lynn on her birthday. I have bought her exotic gifts and taken her to exotic places. One year I took her on a nice fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico. I told you about that trip earlier. On another occasion I took Lynn on a very nice hunting trip in west Alabama. That is the subject of today’s column.
The trip started on October 14, the day before archery season for deer opens in Alabama. There were 9 of us on that trip and 8 of us were guys of the male gender. One of us was wife Lynn—definitely not a boy. The first order of business was to set up camp, which consisted of pitching 2 tents and assembling the cooking gear. One of the guys pointed to a very large pine tree about 20 yards from the campsite and designated it the “whizzer.” Lynn boldly inquired, “What’s a whizzer?” The concept was explained and Lynn was embarrassed. Lynn had never been hunting before in her life and just didn’t about the subtleties of hunting camp life.
The general schedule of a hunting trip of this caliber consists of sitting in a tree most of the day and playing poker and drinking beer most of the night. The activities of the night sometimes make the daytime activities more difficult or even dangerous. Lynn had never been hunting, did not drink beer, did not know how to play poker, and was too uncoordinated to climb a tree. I’ll tell you in a moment how I know that. It has already been established that Lynn didn’t know about a whizzer. It seemed that she would have a hard time fitting in. But we hadn’t been married long and we were still in love so it seemed appropriate that we do stuff together—like hunting.
About tree climbing: Although Lynn had never been hunting before, she had helped me build a tree stand on our property in Alabama. It was a big permanent stand with a roof and everything else that would make the arduous life of a hunter more comfortable. Lynn’s job was mostly to tie things on a rope so I could pull them up into the tree. This saved me many trips down and up the tree. When the stand was about finished, Lynn decided she wanted to see what is was like being 20 feet up a very large oak tree in a commodious deer stand. I was a bit apprehensive since in the short time we had been married Lynn had always appeared to be somewhat coordination deprived. However, if she wanted to climb the tree I was not going to be the one to try to talk her out of it. She tied the rope tightly around her waist in a pretty good approximation of a bowline (a knot all boy scouts, and apparently some girl scouts, learn early on) and began to climb the steps up to the deer stand. The steps were chunks of 2x4 cut into 4 inch pieces and nailed to the tree. Each foothold was less than 2 inches wide. Lynn got about 10 feet up the tree, lost her footing and fell—not far, of course, because I’m holding the safety rope. I’m sitting on the floor of the deer stand with both feet braced on the big tree trunk hanging on to the rope. Lynn is thrashing around trying to regain her footing. Then it happened. Lynn was somewhat top-heavy at the time (a condition that did not persist) and gravity grabbed the heavy part and aimed it toward the earth. Now Lynn is dangling upside down about 10 feet in the air, making enough noise to scare all the deer out of the county. She grabbed the tree trunk with both arms and legs and hung on like there was no tomorrow. Unfortunately, the part of the trunk she chose to grab had a poison ivy vine large enough to support Tarzan growing right up it.
She finally got down and developed a red itchy rash all over her arms and legs. She also developed a particular aversion to me that lasted as long as the rash. We both agreed that Lynn’s tree climbing career was over.
No tree climbing for Lynn on the hunting trip. I fixed her a nice ground
blind so she could pretend to be hunting just like the big guys. Her blind
was in the top part of a recently fallen tree. The leaves had started
to turn brown but had not fallen off the tree. I also had about 100 pounds
of old World War II camouflage netting—the kind that was used to
hide tanks, and artillery pieces from enemy eyes. It consisted of some
seriously heavy duty netting with brown and green burlap strips tied at
narrow intervals. If you are sitting behind this netting in your camo
outfit with your face covered, you are out of sight. Lynn sat in her little
blind with her little bow and arrow for several hours the 2 days the real
hunters were awaiting deer from lofty perches high above the forest floor.
Most of us guys saw deer but none of us got a shot. On the 3rd and final
day of the hunt, I dropped Lynn off at her blind and I went to my tree
for another 2 hours of futility. I didn’t see or hear a deer. Finally
I gave up and went back to collect Lynn. She was sitting serenely in her
little blind holding her little bow and arrow. As I walked up she said,
“Did you see those deer that walked right by your stand?”
I said, “I didn’t see any deer at all.”
I said 1 or 2 other incoherent things while Lynn was pointing at a young buck lying in peaceful repose about 40 yards away.
Lynn 1-- The guys 0. The feat was reported in two newspapers. Both carried a photo of a smiling Lynn and her deer and told the story of 8 guys and a gal and a really cool hunting trip to west Alabama. Lynn was never invited to go hunting with us again.