How Not To Do It

For the first time in years, I was actually prepared for the deer season opener. All my gear laid out in the pole barn, everything in its proper pocket, all outerwear hung in the fresh air and de-scented, a new stand set up in the spot I’d been eyeing for the past three years but hadn’t gotten to, shooting lanes trimmed, everything done. When the alarm beeped at 5 a.m. (or, as we call it, “O’dark-thirty”), I didn’t hit snooze but rather rose and dressed and set out through the trees for the far valley where my stand stood. When I arrived, I arranged everything to be easily at hand, settled into my seat, switched off my headlamp, and looking to the east, marveled that I was actually set to hunt before the horizon had even begun to gray.

As a side note–and this may or may not mean anything to you, but it’s huge for me–because for once things had gone as planned and I hadn’t had to lumber-jog to the stand in order to get there before sunrise as per usual, I wasn’t starting the day as a steamy mouth-breathing sweat-ball.

Nope, I was just sitting there at room temperature and resting heart rate, rifle across my knees, waiting for sunrise. By lifelong habit, I slid my hand along the rifle stock to check the safety.

And discovered that I had forgotten to remove the trigger lock.

Envision now, if you will, a muttering, self-loathing gorilla clad in blaze orange as he clambers down the stand and embarks on a thudding half-mile jog a half-mile uphill through burdock, brush, and pine trees until he reaches his office above the garage where he keeps the key, unlocks his trigger, then thuds back downhill through the dark and back to his tree stand where shortly he sits with sweat dripping down his back and steam rising from his bald head, the high-pitched whine of his blood pressure audible over the sound of the morning’s first birds.

At 7:30 a.m. a doe entered the clearing, followed by a six-point buck. Had a tag for each, filled each.

Modest deer, trophy venison.

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