Thanks to everyone who’s sent photos and ideas for the new women’s blog. I’ll keep posting them as I get them. In terms of topic suggestions I’ve received, I thought I’d start off with this note from Laura Benjamin in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Laura wrote:
I started accompanying my boyfriend (can you really have a boyfriend when you're 50?) on hunting trips for elk and deer about 5 years ago. Then two years ago with his encouragement, I took my Colorado State Hunter Safety course and passed it! In January 2006 I went out with my very own tag and got my first elk! It really has been one of the most exciting experiences I've ever had. I was quite worried at first that I'd wound the animal and it would run off, but that didn't happen and we've had elk in the freezer since then. This coming season, I hope to go out with my son who is 23. He got his first deer last year. P.S. I must say that when the guys find out this 5'1" soft spoken, girly blonde took down an elk, they definitely have a different way of looking at you! —Laura Benjamin
So okay, the funniest thing that’s happened in the field. I’ll kick it off with a story of my own. Well, this wasn’t funny as much as it was shocking to me as a first time duck hunter.
Picture it. Oregon. 2004. (That’s my best impersonation of Estelle Getty on the Golden Girls starting one of her Sicily stories). I’d been invited to a writer’s hunt for ducks. As it turned out, I’d be the only girl with about 7 guys for the weekend. This would be my second-ever hunt, so I was still very green, and I’d be getting a borrowed shotgun and waders when I got there.
The scheduling wasn’t quite ideal. My flight got in a 1:00 a.m., I got to my hotel near the airport at 2:00 a.m., and the hunt coordinator was parked outside the hotel to pick me up around 4:30 a.m. I got into this virtual stranger’s truck and was soon having breakfast at a local restaurant with more strangers, with whom I’d be hunting with for the next 2 days. After eggs and coffee, we drove through the dark to a wooded area and parked. Everyone else was out of the trucks and ready to head into the black trees toward the water, but I was still unwrapping the new waders from their box and trying to get dressed by the glow of the truck cabin light. When I finally had myself together, the hunt coordinator handed me a gun, and we followed my thin flashlight beam into the woods.
I consider myself a fairly fit person, but this walk to the floating blinds was a stretch. For about 15 minutes, we trudged through weed-choked water that at times was so high, I had to carry my gun over my head and hold my flash light in my teeth. The bottom was so soft it was hard to get a foothold. When the blinds finally came into view, I pulled myself up into one, and tried to get set up. I’d brought along a pad to Velcro to the gun stock so it would fit me a little better. When the guide saw me putting it on, he said, “Oh you don’t need that, those things are just and gimmick,” and threw it across the blind.
All this time, from landing at the airport to sitting in the blind, had been in the dark. It lent a dream-like quality to the whole experience. When the sun finally did come up, and I could make out the trees and riverbanks around me, I had a disorienting, how-did-I-get-here kind of feeling.
The shocking part of the story came a few hours into the hunt. I’d already killed my first duck, and now, after another round of shooting, a dripping wet black Lab was bringing me another—this one still squirming. The guide had showed me how to hold a duck by its head and swing its body in circles in order to snap its neck. This was my first chance to try it. I wanted to give it a good, hard swing to make sure I was putting it out of its misery immediately, so I grabbed the head, jerked the body, and felt the bird suddenly get a whole lot lighter. I looked down and I was just holding the head; the rest of the duck was lying against the far wall of the blind. I didn’t know if that happened a lot, but at least I knew the duck wasn’t suffering anymore.
Of course, without its head the duck couldn’t go in the lanyard with the others, so I just placed both parts of it in my pocket for the walk back to the truck.
That’s the story. Not exactly funny, I know. But it was certainly a weird, surprising sort of experience.
If you have a funny tale from the field, feel free to write it below. I’m sure we’ve all had some wacky experiences out there. –KH