Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hunting...From a City Girl's Perspective

"As a little girl, did you ever think you be hunting deer in a snow storm in Idaho?" the fella asked.

"Not even once," I replied.

I grew up in a medium sized city in Ohio with parents who are neither hunters nor fishers.  Our idea of outdoors was the creek down the street from my house.  I grew up on store bought meat, as most people do, and never knew there was another way.  I always thought guns were cool, and when we visited my Virginia family I got my first taste of shooting.  Still, I never saw myself owning a gun or hunting for my food. 

When I moved to Virginia and spent more time with my family who are avid hunters, I started to think it might be something I'd be into.  I had shot more guns and eaten venison by then, and I started to think why not. I had also met the fella, a born and bred Wisconsin country boy who grew up hunting.  It sounded pretty cool.  That summer, I took my hunter's safety course and got my license.  I got a few strange looks since the only other girls there were with their dads or boyfriends.  There I sat attentively listening to the rules, techniques, and history and trying to commit it all to memory.

I saw no deer during my first hunting excursion with my uncle.  But he did give me my first gun as a graduation present.
I was a tad excited.
  I didn't get to go the year after since we had just moved to Idaho and didn't want to buy non-resident (read: expensive) tags.  I eagerly waited for this year so I could see if I had what it took to be a hunter.  It can take a lot of time walking quietly in the cold before you get one and I'm not a huge fan of quiet or cold. 

Here are 4 things I learned in my 4 days of hunting:

1. Watching hunters together is fascinating.  It's like they have this connection between their brains that makes everyone know what the other is thinking without many words.  As a novice, it's incredible to watch.  I'd hear a few hushed whispers between the fella and the friend we went with and before I knew it, a plan was hatched and we were walking to the determined location that I wouldn't have been able to find with a detailed map.  The directions sound something like this: 

Hunter 1: Remember that stump we walked by yesterday where that branch was broken.

Hunter 2: Where we saw those tracks? Yep.

Hunter 1: Walk to that spot and then circle over the ridge and meet us on that knob where we glassed the field.

Hunter 2: Gotcha.

I stand there trying desperately to remember all the stumps that I've walked by and tracks I've seen.  My eyes start to cross and when asked if I know where we're going I say, "Of course, lead the way."

2. Walking is usually very simple.  Unless you're hunting. There are lots of things to think about while you walk.  For instance:

-Don't drag your feet.  Meaning pick up your foot and set it down softly yet deliberately in front of you.  Sounds simple.  Now add  work boots, two layers of pants, 4 layers of shirts, a fleece, a jacket, gloves, and a gun you've never really handled.
-When you pick your feet up in the aforementioned way, your legs will get sore.  Seriously, put on all that stuff and march around.  It's quite a workout.
-Keep your head up while not dragging your feet and walking over rocky, unknown terrain.
-Look for deer.  Look for deer while picking your feet up, wearing a million layers, and not making noise on crunchy leaves.

3. You and your gun will become one.

Weird right.  But seriously, the first day I carried the gun, my arms hurt, my shoulders hurt, my hands hurt.  It was weird.  Following all of the above steps for walking (no pun intended! Wait. I intend that pun.) while carrying a loaded weapon (safety on of course) makes you really aware of your actions and how much you use your arms while walking in unfamiliar territory.

By today, before I did anything I thought, "Where should the gun be." Whether crossing through barbed wire (yes, I did get my pants caught once and almost fell on my face.  Thank you for asking), tight-roping across a fallen tree to cross a creek, or climbing a hill, the first thought was always about where the gun should be.

***If you don't like hearing of animals killed for sustenance, STOP READING!

4. When the deer is in your sights you shake, badly.  It's also hard to breathe.

I don't remember the last time I had a reaction like that.  Maybe when I saw the helgramites. No, this was worse.  The fella and I crept to the wooden fence between me and the deer, and I got set to shoot.  I pulled the hammer back while watching the four does that were in the field in front of me.  I got one in my sights and waited as she took a few steps away from the tree she had been standing behind. And then I started to shake.  Oh, did I shake.  The fella said the gun was rattling against the fence I was using for a rest, but I don't believe him! My breath was in short huffs.  When I pulled the trigger, I saw a flash of light and barely heard the shot.  I'll spare you the details of the rest, but I got my deer.  One shot.

No, when I was a little girl I did not see myself doing this.  I didn't see myself getting excited because now we have two deer in the freezer to get us through the winter and we don't have to buy meat on our meager grocery budget.  I didn't see myself traipsing around Idaho woods and fields carrying a muzzle loader that I'm a pretty good shot with.  I didn't see myself already thinking about next deer season and what I can do better. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Not a Reaction I Expected

Do you know what a helgramite is? Neither did I until yesterday.

Let's back up for a sec.  I have a completely irrational fear of cockroaches.  Like I won't even touch a dead one. I won't let one be flushed down the toilet-even if it's dead.  If I see one, I run screaming to the other side of the room, trembling until someone takes care of the situation.  I have yet to be alone with one, and I imagine  a moment like that would look something like a crying, shaking heap in a corner. Ridiculous.

So yesterday, the fella comes home from work and says, "Oh, I almost forgot, I have helgramites in my lunch box.  I found them at work, they're in a water bottle. I can use them for bait when I fish."

"Huh. Well that's neat.  Now you don't have to buy them."

He brought them over to me and held up the bottle.  He was very proud of his find.  I had a realization.  Helgramites look like skinny cockroaches.  I backed up to the counter, eyes wide, breathing heavily, voice shaking as I said, "Oh, that's so great. Uh huh. Awesome."

And then I started crying.

Not sobbing or anything, but eyes brimming with tears while the fella stared at me.  At one point I said, "I don't know what's happening. This is not the reaction I expected."  The fella said that he did not expect that reaction either-and really who would-and backed slowly away from the crazy person and put his little friends in the garage.

THEN, I decided that it was ridiculous for a grown woman to have such a strong and, frankly, insane reaction to a bug (well, bugs) trapped in a bottle.  So, I tip-toed out to the garage, crept around the 4-wheeler, and looked down at the bottle sitting by the tires.  I slowly lowered myself to the garage floor and looked at them.  I even poked the bottle to see if they would move.  I named one Helga and decided she's their leader.

True story.

Friday's Letters

I haven't done a Friday's Letter Link-Up for quite awhile (I just realized that my "Q" key sticks a little), so since I'm sitting in yoga pants (because I will work out eventually) watching Live with Kelly and Michael-did NOT know Michael Strahan was the new co-host!-I'd get back in the swing o' things-this first paragraph had a lot of interjections, and I'm ok with that.  And the fella says that sometimes he can't follow my train of thought, psh.

Dear Fella, sorry I'm not always clear about what I'm talking about and that I jump around when I tell stories, and then think you're not listening when you don't know what I'm talking about. I'm working on it.

Dear Pilates, I love you. I'm going today, especially since I skipped out on yoga yesterday in favor or a glass of wine.

Dear Fox Montana Station Manager, thanks for sending a nice, informative reply to my emotionally wrought letter of distress when you didn't play the Packer game last week. This week is a bye so you're off the hook, but PLEASE play it next week!!!

Dear Breaking Dawn Part 2, I'm excited to see you, but I'm super sad there won't be any more.  I should just re-read the books I think.

Dear Work, I suppose I'll go do some now.  Not because I want to, but because the battery on my computer is almost dead, and I figure this will be the best time to go to work.

Dear New iPad, I think I like you. I really like iMessage and because it's on the iPad, I feel like It's professional to message other teachers in between classes.  I also like Facetime.

Dear Thanksgiving/Holiday Season, I'M SO EXCITED!!!! There are only 6.5 workdays until Thanksgiving Break.  I'm getting super excited to head back east for Christmas Break, too!!!!

Dear Fella, I think it's amazing that you do dishes while I cook so we can hang out in the kitchen.  I also think it's amazing that after parent/teacher conferences and a 13+ hour workday, I came home to a roast, potatoes, and carrots.  Not all guys do stuff like that, and I consider myself very lucky :)

That's all!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Life Lately

Life lately has been crazy! Between the fella working a (sort of) second job, me working, me trying to work out regularly, helping friends, and making holiday plans (i.e. Christmas shopping) there's been a lot going on.  I think things are going to slow down a little now.  Though parent/teacher conferences are Wednesday, so we'll see.

Here are some things that have been going on:

1. We got our first's gone now.

2. I bought a pasta maker at a yard sale for TWO DOLLARS (it's like $80 online!) and had a pasta making adventure! I made it a little too thick, but it was DELICIOUS! I'm really loving this making-our-food-from-scratch thing.  We're still not the healthiest eaters, but we rarely eat processed/packaged foods.  I also made homemade meatballs with the pasta.  Num!
So pretty :)

3. The people we used to rent from and that the fella has worked for had their annual Angus sale, so we went and helped out.  I didn't take many pictures though.  I always feel a little awkward taking random pictures.  Is that something you just get over, or do other people not feel awkward? Anyway...

 I watched the sale for awhile, and it's amazing how fast everything moves.  My face always itches at auctions because I know I shouldn't move my hands.  I don't want to walk out of there with a $5000 bull!

I had a very serious conversation with a 5 year old about how poop that comes from a cow's butt is the same as poop that comes from a human's butt.  He was trying to convince his little brother that poop was not interesting.  It was awesome.

I also heard this conversation:
Buyer Check-In Lady "Have you bought from the sale before?"
Buyer "No, but I have bought semen."
 What's weird is that it was a completely normal conversation at a cattle ranch.

4. I got an iPad at school.  I'm not sure what to do with it.  I'm really not too impressed so far.  But I'll keep trying.

5. Ohio State (my Alma Mater/love of my life football team) is UNDEFEATED!!! After a shaky season riddled with scandal, an interim head coach, and ineligibility for the post-season (we're still ineligible), we're turning things around. A Heisman candidate, Urban Meyer, and a (so far) undefeated season! Never mind that I don't get to watch any of the games because of our lack of cable, I'm just happy we're doing well!!!