September 30, 2010

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

I know it’s a far cry from being forced off the ground of my ancestors’ ancestors and sent packing for the reservation, and maybe it’s just the association with bows and arrows burned into my head by childhood battles versus the cowboys, but recently I can’t help but identify with Native Americans.

Once upon a time, I was the only inhabitant of the sacred hunting grounds when it came to archery season. I had the whole farm to myself, with free run of dozens of stands to pursue any of the numerous trophy animals for nearly a month before rifle season brought in all of the palefaces.

Then it happened. The first settler arrived, as my father-in-law’s archery spirit was reborn. There was plenty of room for both of us, so there was no need to smoke the peace pipe, especially since it’s his farm.

I knew it was only a matter of time until my years of fruitless pursuits with the string and stick were put to shame. I am a deer hunter. My father-in-law is a deer slayer. That doesn’t mean he slaughters them, but simply denotes, that in his own words, he’s a “finisher.” I tell stories about all of the big deer that got away. He tells stories about how expensive his taxidermy bill is since he doesn’t let them escape.

Okay, hopefully I’ve buttered him up enough he’ll still let me hunt after this.

I’m not sure he’d even taken the price tag off his bow before he downed his first trophy archery buck. Of course, we in the “Indian” nation refer to him as He Who Needs Bigger Quiver, as he flung his entire arsenal at that big boy, getting lucky enough with the last arrow in his bag to hit a vital spot, outside the normal shooting target area.

Chief Big Quiver’s success ultimately led to the next round of squatters, as my wife suddenly developed an interest in archery just a few seasons ago.

She like her father, was already a proven finisher in the rifle ranks, proudly displaying her three trophy deer mounts that all put my lone representative on the wall to shame.

So I was pushed further off the best hunting grounds by Point’s At The Doghouse. Her encroachment sent me to the opposite side of the river. This brave refuses to look a gift horse in the mouth, so I took the relocation in stride. It was a new adventure, learning the changing surroundings, installing new stands and studying the patterns of the deer transportation system in my new hunting home. While it might not be the prime real estate I once had the luxury of roaming, it was still quite exceptional.

Just about the time I was growing accustomed to my new grounds, word started to get out there had been deer found in these parts, and soon more settlers began arriving.

Apparently unsatisfied with the monster buck taken from my favorite stand two years ago, my sister-in-law recently decided to join the ranks of the bow owners.

Stands in My Stand was soon followed this summer by a wagon train of new arrivals. A new bow was bought for my oldest daughter, with her younger sister in stride not far behind with a starter kit. Cap it all off with the latest bulls eye. Mrs. Big Quiver bought a top-end rig and has been quite the sharpshooter on the new family target range.

Give Whitey another year or two and we may be able to start our own hunting show, an archery version of Eight is Enough.

The past few weeks I’ve been waiting for the medicine man to summon me to the great gathering of bow hunters. I fully expect to be slipped some firewater as they offer me some glass beads, a few dozen fish hooks and four leftover t-shirts in exchange for “my” hunting grounds.

Oh well, I’m not going to sweat lodge it yet as I’ve not heard any news of sending Dances with No Deer off to the reservation just quite yet.

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