Friday, September 26, 2008


( MS )
It was like a step back in time. Except that it was a experience that blended newer technology with ancient survival/lifestyle skills.
He had been raised in a military family. Little Rock Air Force Base had been the hub of many of the family’s daily activities. As a middle aged family man now, he had been experiencing longing feelings for rural life as he had known it when a child. And although he had not been in a family that had a tradition of hunting, he felt the powerful draw of the outdoors and in particular, hunting.
Business associates had arranged for him to accompany them on a Phesant hunt in the upper midwest. That is when it happened to him. The trip was not only a success, but had struck such a powerful inner cord, that he knew for sure what he had to do.
He would just have to try deer hunting. Soon there after, he was invited to hunt in the Ouachita Mountians, at a traditional deer camp. A business trip nearly got in the way. He arrived home about eight P.M. after a lengthy road trip. Though he had been away from his family, he had already been day dreaming about the up coming deer hunt. He could sence his wife’s amazement when he set the alarm clock for 2:30 A.M. . It would be several hours of driving after very little sleep. A microwave burrito and very black coffee got him to the meeting place at the hunt club boundary. It was way before first light. When he drove up he saw a camo pickup truck. His friend got out of the truck looking very different from any way he had ever seen him before. Wearing camo, several days of beard and blaze orange, his friend met him with a broad smile, a loud greeting, and a handshake. Maybe, he thought, maybe, this will be ok.
A long drive down rough roads for his family sedan, to where he could see a campfire burning cheerily. When they parked and got out, introductions went around the campfire. Several of his new acquaintences commented, ” we don’t see many passenger cars out here !” They all seemed to be in camo and orange, except that theirs seemed frayed and hunt worn. Self consciously he wished he had at least wrinkled his shiny new blaze orange vest a bit.
Each hunter’s arrival caused the dogs in the kennel to vocalize into the dark. Firelight flickered over bearded faces as he tried to soak in the multitude of sounds and smells of this ancient lifestyle form. Hunting stories and coffee flowed freely.
Raised in a military family he just “fell right in” with this group of mostly public service officials. Many of whom were retired or ex military. Astonishingly, at 6 A.M. he heard Reville being played over the hunt club radios that each hunter carried.
The crowd around the fire was loud, friendly and clearly having a great time in the fellowship of their peers. He was so engrossed in the absorption of all that was unfolding around him, that it caught him by suprise when the group started to leave to “get on a stand”. Beagles were being loaded into dog boxes, rifles checked and trucks departing. Although it seemed somewhat organized, it was a bewildering experience.
That’s when he heard his buddy say, “you ready to get em’ ?”
Getting to their stand was a bit of an experience in it’s self. The camo 4X4 pickup scrambled at one point trying to get enough traction to carry them forward.
After an indeterminable amount of time they arrived to where they would leave the truck and walk the remainder of the way to the stand. Arriving at the stand his friend gave him a description of the terrain and what he may expect to happen.
Then it got quiet, very quiet, hear your own breath, listen to your heartbeat quiet. The more daylight it became, the more he began to listen to awakening birds and other wild life. A startlingly loud and clear crow call, seemed to make three deer appear on the mountainside. Coming downward at an angle towards him they closed the distance to him as he raised his scoped marlin 30-30.
His buddy, standing whisper close said ” wait a bit”, “wait”. “Ok, whenever you are ready”.
You would have thought that they had won the superbowl ! High fives and handshakes were in order after the report of the Marlin lever action faded.
The jubilation soon faded into the tedium of field dressing, dragging and loading. Right after affixing the game and fish harvest tag, the conversation changed over to dressing and skinning techniques and types of knives that work best.
Knowing that his friend was quite a distance from home, the host suggested a trip to the local processor to prepare the meat.
Knowing that his family and he had little experience with processing, he readily agreed.
Then as they drove back to the campfire, the flood of questions started. His friend had been expecting it and was replying with a grin.
Back at the campfire the members were planning another drive and his friend assigned him to go with a member that was a dog handler for the club. His new hunting partner was an outgoing hunter who readily gave explainations as to how hunts were started, progressed, and how he would sometimes terminate a hunt for various reasons.
Lunch was late, yet it seemed not to matter much, for he was so preoccupied with this new and somewhat mysterious mountain hunting culture.
The language was somewhat different and speech paterns were at times baffling, yet wonderful, all at the same time. When they passed on to another hunt club, ( there was a sign ), he said “will they mind ?” “No, we have a pursuit agreement with our surrounding clubs, we just radio them and they do the same.”
Soon it was fast turning dark, at the end of a long and tiring day. He had called his wife a number of times to tell her of the things he was seeing. The long drive home was filled with memories of the days events when his cell phone chimed that he had recieved a text message. It was his buddy, telling him that his photo that had been taken with a cellular telephone, had been posted on the internet already, at the hunt club website, and he would be able to show his family when he got home.
Wild, he thought, just absolutely wild ! What a blend of ancient mountain lifestyle and modern technology !

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