Thursday, December 22, 2005

Gut check

Haven't had the nerve to write here since the debacle of Sunday, Dec. 18, at Bruce's Farm in Ingham County.

I'm still in shock and in utter disappointment of my airheadedness on the last day of Michigan's muzzleloader season.

Walt and I walked all the way to the back 40 to a thicket off of a sloping cut cornfield where we've jumped many a deer. Walt did the perfect deer drive through the bramble and even gave me a great heads-up with a "here they come." Only it wasn't a they, but a him.

An 8-point to be exact. He didn't even bust out of there carrying the mail, but eased out the back door in a trot. I raised my Knight .50-cal where I placed the crosshairs on his vitals, pulled the trigger, only to hear a pop! instead of a baaa-boooooom!

Misfire? Huh? Noooooooooooooooooooooo ...

After I stood there in disbelief for a few minutes, I realized after talking with Walk that I never had a load in the gun to begin with. I am a buffoon. A blockhead. And it cost me a chariot ride through Rome, where I could have been a conquering hero by scoring a buck on the last possible day with a firearm.

In fact, I realized I had hunted the ENTIRE muzzleloader season without a round in the barrel. What a maroon.

So the last week or so, I've been sulking over it all and the following is a review of the year via Internet correspondence with my Pa. friend Mike, who has been trying to shake me out of my doldrums.

He pointed out how my year was not so bad. After all, by his own admittance, he's yet to take a single deer this year. I will admit a third doe was cut up and put into the freezer during the late firearms season, but I prefer to leave out the details on that one. I have my reasons.

Anyway, here's my response to Mike's suggestion that I had a "great year":

"I would rate it an average year. I've had better. Much better. But I'll take it. I still remember 2000. I was shut out that year. Did shoot one late but never found it, that is, until turkey hunting the following spring of '01. Had I been a tad more diligent would have avoided goose egg, or yearling dropping, if you will. Was nervous about walking around in back property 'cause still fairly new there and got yelled at previous year by neighbor's boyfriend -- white trash -- who is no longer living next door. I would have found that doe had that happened this year.

"Then there was the one-yearling season -- my first ('94) -- where shared the Easton enema shot with you (Went out with Mike when we lived in West Virginia and meant to hit doe with quartering away shot with bow but ended up hitting deer's femoral artery from behind). Only deer taken, but broke my cherry the first year out.

"Did take spring jake this year to break 6-year Michigan turkey slump. Also, nailed long-coveted grouse after 10 years of hunting them -- with Hen (my 12-year-old springer spaniel), which I wanted to do before he died. I suppose one could ask: Is the cup half full or half empty? If I slam a cackling rooster next week would be bird-cycle year.

"Would like to do better next year with bow so don't have to slog around late in season if I choose not to. Kansas bow hunt, here I come. We'll see."

They say writing can help rid your mind of troubling thoughts, and I am feeling a little better. But with it now only two days from Christmas, I have more pressing issues at hand, such as getting my shopping done for my wife. Yikes!


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