Thursday, March 11, 2010

I Am Huntress, Hear Me Roar

There has been a request, ladies and gentleman. A request to hear about my hunting experience from back in December. Are you ready? It may be a little intense for the faint of heart. It may be a little much for those who love little Bambi. So if that doesn't sound like your cup of tea, turn back now (Actually, it's truly not that bad so don't be too scared and just read about this city girl trying her hand at some outdoors activity).

Sometimes you have to laugh at what life gives you. For a good majority of my dating years I've joked with people, especially my family, how down right hysterical it would be if I ended up with an outdoors man! Bahahaha! It's funny because I'm pretty sure the camping gene skipped me somewhere in there and besides, most of my time has been spent dancing, not learning wilderness skills. Like I've always said, I support Girl Scouts by eating their cookies, not participating in the activities. Plus hunting would requires me to wear camo and I wouldn't have even been caught dead in the pink version let alone the real stuff.

Well the jokes on me because last summer I happened to fall head over heels for a my Pyro Man who is a die hard fisherman and hunter. Laugh it up, folks. It's SO funny. I'll save how Pyro Man got his name and our happy story for another time. Of course I didn't know he was such an outdoors man until after I'd already taken a shine to him *SIGH* The Reader's Digest version of this discovery goes a little something like this:

*Pyro Man requests Julie as friend on Facebook*
Julie: Oooh! Friend request from Pyro Man! Wonderful

*Julie open his facebook page and discoveries picture after picture of him fishing, him holding up deer, and tons of his boat. JUST his boat*

*Mom hears shriek from the dining room*
Julie: AHHHHH! NOO!!!!

Mom: What?! Are you OK?! What's wrong?!

Julie: MOM! He fishes! And he hunts!! OHMIGO!!!!!! He's on a fishing team! (Since when did they get a fishing team at Tech?)What am I going to do? *Sob*

*Mom proceeds to dial every family member living to spread the hysterical joke*

So I didn't really sob--other than that the story is pretty darn accurate. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect with this one. Never been hunting and the last time I went fishing I was four. That was also when I discovered that rainbow fish are indeed not rainbow colored in the least bit. Whatever idiot decided to tell a four year old that a fish was rainbow colored when it CLEARLY wasn't just did not know what kind of disappointment that would ensue. Same thing with Rainbow Iron Kids Bread--lies. That ain't rainbow colored colored either.

Back to finding my inner huntress...Aside from learning about this surprising hobby, Pyro Man and I have been able to learn quite a bit one from one another. Talking with him about all of this has shown me how much of a passion he has for hunting and fishing (I'll help you out. It's the same as me and dance. So. There ya go.). Well, I finally came around to the idea ON MY OWN that it might be neat to learn how to do some of these things. How hard can it be to hit a deer?

Oh. Girlfriend. (Or friend if you're a straight male.) Let me tell you.

Over Christmas break I headed out with my honey to "big" Brownwood, TX to learn how to hunt deer. First of all, you sit in a deer blind in the wee hours of the morning in the winter. Have I painted the picture for you yet? No? OK, you wear tons of clothing including camo bibs, eight layers of socks, shirts, thermals, hats, gloves and just when you think you're going to pass out from the heat, you put on a huge, puffy jacket because after sitting for a couple hours, everything goes numb. I mean everything. Plus, do you know how quiet you have to be? I'm not exactly the most silent person especially if I'm laughing. Even whispering is too much, for crying out loud! And moving? Forget it--you really have to stay still because the deer hear all. Geez Louise, I'm a dancer, I can't sit still unless I'm sedated.

Then you have to watch for these little suckers appear out of thin air. I want to know how they do that because you stare and strain trying to see something, anything, and then BAM! They appear, a whole group, in a clearing staring right back at you. It's the most bizarre thing I've ever experienced.

But before I would get the honor of squatting in a pop-up tent for my first hunt, I had to learn how to shoot a gun. Keep in mind that I was indeed licensed to hunt so I wasn't randomly in the great outdoors; it was all legal, folks. Guns: There's a bit of a kick with those little guys--ha, I say little--and you know, kinda fun to handle if you've never had the opportunity. Pyro Man and his dad helped me learn how to properly hold a gun (which is slightly awkward), and how to aim (again, little awkward--looking through the scope is like looking through a microscope. Ladies, you're lashes do get in the way). Even had a hand drawn target to practice my aim. Apparently moving targets are harder than a cardboard box...jury is still out on that one. Couple of tests and trials, I was ready to go.

There I sat, anxious to see a hoofed critter come trotting up to the feeder just for me to take a shot--as if. If you are ever under the impression that deer will walk up to you, present themselves on a silver platter just for you to hit, you are sadly mistaken my friend. Also, when your beau says they deliver coffee in the morning to your tent, he is also lying. Still waitin' on that coffee, by the way...

We sat. And watched. And shivered. Sat a little bit more and I began to realize just why those hunters were bound and determined to take a deer down. They make you wait so long that you really do feel the need to shoot something after a while--grant you, I am a pretty patient person, however, this was a very trying experience.

Finally Pyro Man spotted one--he must have eyes of an eagle cause I could have sworn that deer was a tree. Peering through the scope, he lined up right in my sights. Gently squeezing the trigger, I took the shot. Missed. I waited all that time and missed! Bound and determined now to nab one, we set back out a couple more times before I got lucky.

I'll spare too much gruesome details, but the short of it is my spike went down in one shot (A spike is a deer that has a genetic deficiency to where it produces unbranched antlers, essentially.). Pyro Man was just jumping up and down in the seat like a kid of Christmas, so excited while I was feeling a little stunned. Shocked I actually got one, crazy excited from the adrenaline of pulling the trigger.

Later when I went down to find my creature, I couldn't believe there lying in front of me was a deer. Can't really say I knew how I would react in this situation. Trying to imagine yourself in a situation is very different from actually being there. So many people were surprised I was going hunting, even warned me how traumatic this event would be for someone like me and couldn't see that this was something I wanted to try. Part of me had wanted to try it because I'd never had the opportunity nor had I ever really thought about it before--how could I know how I would react if I didn't try something that seemed to interest me?

In any case, there were no tears shed and I didn't blubber one bit. Actually, when Pyro Man turned his back, I knelt beside my deer, petted his soft, little head, and whispered, "I'm sorry." I've heard stories of Indian tribes giving thanks to Mother Nature and the animals for sacrificing their life--apologizing seemed to be more appropriate.

My mom's side of the family is full of fly fishermen and the rule is "You catch it, you clean it." Well, I think the same rule applies in Pyro Man's family, but they were nice enough not to make me skin my own deer. Brought back flashbacks of high school Anatomy class where we dissected cats--it really wouldn't have bothered me to help skin, I honestly just didn't want to get guts all over me. However, I did help with the packaging of the meat, got my hands dirty and all for this family affair.

What's most interesting about this whole experience was how much an individual sport it is and yet, how much of a group effort it can be as well. We all went out early in the morning or evening, wishing each other good luck as we headed in hopes of seeing something. Texts were sent back and forth from different blinds giving each other a heads up if they saw anything headed anywhere near someones spot(Ah, technology). Even when it came time to clean and package the four deer caught that one night--everyone pitched in. I learned what a sport hunting is. Seeing the challenges clearly, I have much more respect for those active sportsmen now--props to you men and women. That takes some dedication, for sure.

I know for some, the sport is a little hard to wrap the brain around for various reasons. For me, I'm so glad I took a shot at it (OK, pun intended)--I really enjoyed myself. Still have quite a bit to learn. Now, will I be making this my new favorite hobby? Probably not, but would I go again, sure! It's something totally different from my rhinestone artistic world and that's probably a good reason why I enjoyed the experience. Having something polar opposite from what I do on a daily basis is refreshing and allows me to grow a bit. Plus, it's sharing in his passion just like I've tried to share mine. He's come to a show now and seen a glimpse of my choreographic practice. He's also already agreed to learn how to dance--Boy, you're in for a treat with that one!

I suppose my next challenge will be fishing--that'll be a trip. I can hear it now, "What do you mean you want me to TOUCH the bass?!" Couldn't hardly handle having a beta fish, how on earth am I going to sit on a boat in the middle of a giant fish bowl attempting to snag un petite poisson? Good grief. The only bass I'm attached to is Big Mouth Billy Bass that sings--now that's the kind fish I'm talking about, one that entertains!

And for your enjoyment, the only proof you will ever see of me wearing camo:

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