By Bob Fala
It’s just about that time of year again, you know, deer season. It’s a special time for grown men to sport scruffy, frost-busting beards, spin tall-tales of the good old days and tease the younger camp members to no end. In all honesty, the women folk may look forward to it even more than the male segment. That is, they’re trying to get away from all those scratchy beards, tall-tales and worse yet, all the new-fangled hunting gadgets that clutter up the house. With backdrops as such occurring from every nook and cranny of the Mountain State, let the annual games begin circa November 25.
Somehow, the deer always seem to be tipped off to the occasion. No doubt it has something to do with several hundred thousand smelly humans entering the woods all at one time. Or, maybe the women folk have tipped them off somehow. That way, they won’t have to put up with so many wild game dinners in the off-season.
As if all that weren’t enough, soon after the first volley of gunfire come opening morning, the deer seemingly vaporize by going nocturnal, heading for the thickest escape cover that nary a blaze-orange clad hunter dare enter. These white-tailed wonders literally make fools out of their pursuers in short order.
By day two, many of the hunters are, without admitting as much, throwing in the towel. They’re sleeping in, staying back to cook up some new bean-laden recipe, playing cards, lounging by the fire, visiting other camps and participating in all sort of non-deer bagging related activities. These slack times are always the best to garnish the deer camp tales of yore or better yet, make up some brand new ones of your own.
If you were at a loss for some mighty tall camp tales, the ones about DNR stocking rattlesnakes from helicopters or importing coyotes can always be good starters. You can bet the other guys have at least heard of them. Whether they’re true or not is of course another story. But, there’s never any harm in stirring up a little friendly debate.
For a new twist, you can always add to the lively discussion by throwing in those road-killed deer without their heads. These can range all the way from mutilations by the Moth man up to having their brains tested for chronic wasting disease, the latter which of course is true. But no one is going to believe that, especially after a few evening beverages.
But don’t be surprised if the camp gets a little crowded even for the normally closed in underground coal miners, nearly all of whom have made it to camp by now. The many new-fangled gadgets are cluttering up the place more now than even the ribs and roof of your lowest coal seam! The dang gadgets now include all kinds of scent removing, boot drying, straight shooting and deer attracting devices the market has ever contrived.
Admittedly, all this gear drives the price per pound of venison up several fold that of filet mignon. But no one was willing to admit that, especially to the all those deer camp widows. But then again, weren’t they all back home, shopping ‘til they drop?
Fair’s fair, the gang admits at the evening camp meal, moving on to other tales, fun and time to digest. The second day of deer camp ends with a late game of cards, snacks and all sorts of beverage followed by a raucous medley of snoring sounds.
A fresh snow has fallen over night; a curious basket-racked buck looks down upon the camp from the woods above. Mesmerized for a few seconds by the odd smells and strange but faint sounds of the camp, it snorts then bolts for thick bedding cover.