Saturday, June 9, 2012

If Deer Could Only Laugh

November 7, 2011

First, my apologies for the extreme delay in getting this version to press. It has been six months since this was started and I am just getting it finished. So, just imagine going back in time….

This past weekend was the opening day of deer season here in the great Lone Star State. And, as the dutiful son that I am I took my dad hunting, on the very property on which he was born eighty six years and five months ago. For those of you that would rather opt for the short story, we didn’t see anything. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. The big goose egg.

The weekend started a day later than anticipated due to a surprise audit on Thursday. It was uneventful but it did throw us a day later getting off. I knew that on arrival I would have a ton of water pipes broken in need of repair and needed to arrive in the morning to get a good start. One thing I could not tolerate is not having water in certain appliances in the cabin. Of course, I didn’t anticipate all of the parts necessary so we had to make a trip into Centerville for one lousy fitting. Now, I don’t know about you, but I simply cannot walk into a hardware store and purchase a fifty nine cent fitting and walk out. I just have to purchase enough that the sale justifies a credit card purchase. The new pipes would have to be insulated so we added ten dollars in insulation to the tab. Then on the way to the door I spot some deck screws that I thought would work better than nails on that step that needed fixing thanks to my best hunting buddy. And it required a torx driver instead of a typical Phillips driver so there is another eight. And because I am so unorganized I could not find my plastic pipe cutters. Another twenty. Finally after I am satisfied we would not be short any supplies we headed back to the ranch. Pipes at the well house repaired we headed up to the cabin to turn the water on. Darn…water pouring out of the wall under the sink. Out comes the sink, sheetrock, and insulation revealing not one, but two half inch cpvc pipes split. Luckily I have just enough fittings to repair those leaks, but to my dismay once the water was back on there was another just out of sight. Now we are headed into Buffalo because Centerville closes up a noon on Saturday. It took me a couple of days to realize that the day was Friday and we could have gone back into Centerville, a much closer trip.

Now that the water is repaired we headed out to the spring where I constructed dad’s deer stand several years ago. It is a four by eight stand with an eight foot ceiling and an eight step stairway going up to it. We have to replace a step right up around number seven. Simple and easily done with a couple of hours to go before we head back, watch a movie, and turn in. However, about five or six months ago I gave up my Direct TV due to economic reasons. I mean, I was seldom going up there these days and it was just not practical to keep paying for something you do not get much chance to enjoy. So, I replaced the satellite system with a DVD player, which would have worked just great had I remembered to bring some DVDs. A quick search through dad’s truck turned up two movies. Transformers and Sky High. I think another trip into Buffalo is in order.

Hunting comes early on the Taylor ranch. Most of the time that is. I give the elderly a couple of more minutes. After a good hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs (I won’t mention that we both have heart and cholesterol problems…) and bundling up following the drastic dip in temperatures overnight (it is now 44 degrees) we head out to the spring stand for our first morning of hunting. We filled the feeders up about two weeks ago and the kids hunted last weekend (one of the kids shot a doe at this very stand) and it appears that the feeder is empty, but it still had corn on the ground. So we stuck it out, for about an hour after daylight. At that point dad just couldn’t take the cold any longer. I can understand that. As you age you simply lose muscle mass, and therefore the natural body insulation that keeps you from freezing. So we left and headed back to the cabin for snacks and a nap before lunch.

As dad slept most of the afternoon I contemplated the evening hunt. I fiddled around with this and that. Fixing some things and intending to fix others. Watched those DVD’s yet again, and generally lounged around waiting on the opportunity to try my luck again out in the deer stand.

When the time finally arrived to get ready to go out I woke Dad up and mentioned something about getting ready. Well, he didn’t want to go out this evening. He just thought he would sleep the afternoon away and let me go out on my own. Well this presented a little bit of a problem since he is just now getting to that time in his life that I really do not want leave him alone. It’s not that he is dangerous or anything. I’m just starting to get a little uncomfortable with some of the little things he says and does. It just makes me think I’d rather keep an eye on him. However, against my better judgment and his edging along I finally agree to go out this evening and leave him asleep in the cabin. After all, we are in the middle of the ranch. He has no place to go and no transportation if he was so inclined. I felt the risk was minimal so I went hunting alone this evening.

I’ll just skip all the nonsense about not seeing anything yet again. Suffice it to say that this evening’s hunt was uneventful. It was when I returned back to the cabin that things got interesting. Dad was no where to be found. It’s not like he could be hiding in the cabin, there’s only two rooms. A quick scan outside did not reveal his whereabouts either. But, I need to strip down out of these hunting clothes so I can perform a thorough search. Luckily just as I open the door to exit the cabin to start my search there he is, on his way back from the neighbors. I say neighbor. It is my cousin, his nephew’s new place.

Well, that is the last time he gets left alone, even for a moment. I’ll just chalk it up to lessons learned.

As morning arrived we were up early with a hearty breakfast eaten. We headed out to the ‘far’ deer stand and arrived just in time to see the sun crest on the horizon. A little late in the scheme of hunting, but considering the age of my current hunting partner it was just in time. We got settled in quickly and patiently waited for that monster buck with the atypical rack with the drop tines. Just then I hear it…

Tap, tap, tap… Now as some of you know, I am just a little hard of hearing. Ok, a LOT hard of hearing. Even with hearing aids it is sometimes difficult for me to distinguish near sounds from far away sounds. There it is again. Tap, tap, tap… Wait a second, I thought to myself. That is rhythmic tapping. Almost as if tapping to music. I look around and sure enough there is dad tapping out the Navy song on the butt stock of his rifle.

Shhh! I can remember when he was doing that to me. Again, I have become my dad.

So with the tapping subdued I am back to listening and scanning the tree line for the subtle hint of a deer looking out into the clearing as if to see if it is safe. Then out of the corner of my eye I see movement. As I slowly turn my head to the right I see dad raising his gun and easing it out of the window. Scanning the trees I look anxiously for his target but see nothing. As he moves his gun left and right I then realize he was using his gun scope to scan the clearing. Argh. Use the binoculars, dad.

Now that I have his gun back inside the stand he lays it across his lap and get comfortable. Now, I don’t know about you but to me comfortable is the gun in the gun rack and me leaned back in a recliner taking it easy. No wonder he is beat after only an hour in the stand. I don’t think I could sit ‘at attention’ with a gun in my lap for several hours. And, for safety sake you really have to be completely alert if you are going to have a gun in your lap all the time. It’s just a safety thing. Relax dad. Put your gun in the rack and relax.

After being in the stand now for about fifteen minutes, I’m getting just a little bit on edge. Dad is moving around like a teenager and seems to me making enough noise to run the deer off from even the neighbor’s deer stand. Now he is whistling. Not really whistling like those prisoners of war that built that bridge over the River Kwai or anything, but the sort of silent whistling like snare drum imitations. Shh!

Finally I hear it. “I’m ready to get out of here.”

I sort of ignore it for a minute or two. Two whole minutes. Complete silence. It is the quietest that he has been since we arrived. Now he’s quiet. But I figure the damage has already been done. It is time to go. I don’t think he actually came he to go hunting anyway. This is his home. He was born here and some day he will return here for his last trip. He’s earned the right to lead the way and decide how long we hunt and when we go visit with his sister. We pack it in for the day and spend the rest surveying the area just looking around the countryside.

It comes time to head back home. Neither one of us brought enough medicine to last more than the four days we have now been here. So we pack it up to head back home being especially careful to drain all the water pipes in the cabin to hopefully prevent a repeat of this years water pipe fiasco.

Those of you that know me, know well enough that I do fib on occasion. Not often mind you, but today I pulled one over on you. We did see something. On day three we saw a family of hogs pass by on the way to who knows where. And on day four, as we were approaching the exit gate on our way home, there it was. A nice doe waving at us as if to say “Thanks for playing. Ya’ll come back now, ya hear?”

If only deer could laugh. It sure would have made hunting a lot easier this year.

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