Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Deer Me

Deer season is coming up.

That means that the
TV remote control will be
all mine during the peak
hunting hours.

It means the roar of the 4 wheeler,
the blooming of camo,
the totally unorganized, crazy,
aggravating process
that always seems to
go along with sending my man
off into the woods.

"Are you cooking bacon?" he snaps.

"No, I am not cooking bacon.
I'm not cooking anything."

"Well, you better not be. I can't have
my clothes smelling like bacon when
I'm trying to attract deer," he says,
rubbing odorless deodorant into
his freshly scrubbed armpits.

"Where's my gloves?' he asks,
riffling through a pile of hats,
caps, mittens and belts.

"Right here!" I answer,
pointing to the top of the pile-
"I guess they were camouflaged."

I laugh.
He doesn't.

He's frantically checking his watch-
trying to get into the perfect tree
before the sun comes up.
He's gathering his gear-
safety harness, pull rope,
deer grunt, face mask, flashlight,
binoculars, compass, gloves,
permit tags, knife, butt pillow,
face paint, maps, bow, arrows,
4 wheeler key...

I watch in total fascination
and aggravation that this man-
(who refuses to get ready for
a wedding or a funeral
because he has to dress up)-
is taking a good hour to suit up
just to go sit in a tree like a
lifeless statue for an entire day.

He grabs his chewing tobacco
off the table and puts it in
the only free space in his pack.

"You aren't going to chew, are you?"
I ask, purposely trying to provoke
him out of this zombie like mission.
"We wouldn't want those deer to smell that
wintergreen, would we?"

He shoots a deathly glance toward me
and hurries out the door-
and nine times out of ten,
forgets something crucial
to a successful hunt.

If he comes back empty handed,
it's always the arrows fault,
or his feet sweat,
or the sun was in his eyes,
or a branch was in the way.

Or bacon.

But when he does get a deer,
the work has only begun.

Tracking it always requires
my assistance.
"You have good eyes," he says.

We walk through icy rain and briers,
looking for tiny blood droplets
on the scarlet colored leaves.
It's dark. I'm tired.
My nose is frozen
and I can't feel my feet.

"Oh, there he is!" I hear my husband
cry out in glee, as though he has just
unearthed a giant treasure chest full of
gold nuggets.

A virtual butcher shop is set
up under the maple tree in the back yard.
There is blood.
And guts.
And the smell of intestines.
Steam rises from the still warm deer
into the cold air.

I hold the legs
while he field dresses his prize.
I help toss the hide
into a trash bag
and toss the guts by the pond.

Deer season is upon us.

I look out upon the autumn fields
after he is gone
and wonder which tree he is in.
Hoping he is safe
and warm
and doesn't smell like bacon.

Yet, sometimes-
secretly hoping he does.