My dad and some of my friends thought I was destined to be a nature boy. For some odd reason, mosquitoes leave me alone, bee stings don’t swell (they still hurt though), poison ivy doesn’t affect me, and you can put me in the woods and I’ll find food, whether growing or running or crawling. I’m not afraid of spiders, snakes are cool, and rodents I like on a case by case basis.
Now please don’t misunderstand all of this, I’m not boasting that I’m not afraid of anything out in the woods because I can be if the situation presents itself as dangerous. I certainly respect all the things that can kill me. Mama bears, poisonous snakes, rabid animals, and Sasquatch are some of things I’d like to avoid. Well, maybe not Sasquatch…
Another thing that would give me pause in the woods is a big city person with a gun going hunting for the first time. They can be trigger happy, indecisive, and dangerous. They don’t think about whether they have a good shot or not, just that they see something. They also don’t consider where the bullet may land when they miss their target. Bullets can travel a long ways.
I remember when I was trying to go to college for my second time, in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. My dorm window overlooked a local Kmart store where they had a tagging station set up to register your deer. I was with a couple of my friends when we saw a station wagon pulling into the line. I have excellent long-distance vision and I saw something on the roof of their vehicle that definitely looked too small to be a grown deer. We decided to investigate.
We reached the vehicle and sure enough, it wasn’t a deer. It was a tan-colored goat. The vehicle had Illinois license plates and the dealer sticker in back said the vehicle had been purchased in Chicago. I knocked on the driver window and the driver rolled it down.
ME: That’s a goat.
He rolled his window back up and we decided to hang around until he reached the tagging station. Five minutes later, we joined the DNR employees in their laughter. They had to get all the information of where the goat was shot so they could try to find the owner of the goat so they could be reimbursed if necessary.
I also remember a story my dad told me about him and my uncle when they went hunting. They were out on my uncle’s land when my uncle, who could hear, tackled my dad because shots were being fired and the bullets were whizzing by their heads. One bullet actually hit my uncle’s rifle stock and splintered it. When the bullets stopped, my dad and uncle left the area and reported it to the police.
Later that night, they were at my uncle’s bar where he was bartending and he overheard a conversation between two hunters at the end of the bar. He noticed that their gear was all new, not weathered like most hunters, and they had a distinct city accent…yes, a Chicago accent. They were boasting loud enough that all could hear that they just missed two large bucks on some land nearby. My uncle joined the conversation.
UNCLE: Whereabouts you say you were?
1ST HUNTER: Just outside of Vesper on the road leading in.
UNCLE: North or south of Vesper?
2ND HUNTER: North or south? Hell, we don’t know.
UNCLE: Was it this side of Vesper? Did you actually drive through town?
1ST HUNTER: It was this side of Vesper. Why? You thinking of going after our bucks?
UNCLE: How many shots did you fire? About ten or so?
2ND HUNTER: Um, that sounds right. Why?
My uncle went to the back of the bar and pulled out his rifle with the shattered stock and brought it back to show them.
UNCLE: I think I found your bucks. They were on private land and didn’t appreciate being shot at. Get out of my bar before I decide you look like bucks.
Now, I didn’t mean to disparage hunters from Chicago. I know there are plenty of responsible hunters that come from there. It’s just a coincidence that both stories involved Chicago people. Like any place else, there are stupid people and there are smart people. I just wish the smart people could take the guns away from the stupid people. Whether you are pro-gun or anti-gun, we all can agree that we need to keep guns away from idiots that don’t know what they’re doing. If it was as easy as just pulling a trigger, the military wouldn’t spend weeks refining the skills of their recruits. They would just give them weapons and send them out to kill each other on accident.