The tea was poured for my imaginary party. I had my pinky up in true form, pulling my first sip through tight lips to keep from burning my palette when I saw him out of the corner of my eye. My pity party was rudely interrupted by an uninvited guest. Well he was invited but his arrival couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Minutes earlier I plopped down on a rock in disgust with the morning. I wasn’t getting my way and I wanted everyone to know it. A few mulies had been seen, but nothing to my liking. The ailments of a first world hunter.
I looked down at my bow laying next to me warming itself like a cat in the mid morning sun. Passing up the four arrows perfectly lined up in my quiver, I reached down to the one laying on my rest and plucked it off the string.
“My fingers are filthy.” I murmured to myself. It was true, six days in the backcountry and every surface and crevice that wasn’t covered in clothing looked like it had taken a mud bath.
Ten minutes into my spa day and I had finished nine digits of my manicure. God damn I was looking fine.
As I dug into my last finger that’s when my guest decided to make his appearance. Now this honestly shouldn’t have come as a shock to me. For the previous six days I dreamed up vivid stories in my head how one day I was going to be that guy where sheer dumb luck was going to set a giant animal into my lap.
You know the story. Some dipshit in sweatpants and a Packers jacket that stumbled off his four wheeler half hammered draws his wife’s bow back and takes the state record… that sort of story, although perhaps less bitter. This was that day.
“Hello dipshit.” Came the voice of a well racked mule deer.
“You gotta be kidding me.” I don’t dare mumble as our eyes lock.
He had beelined it towards me on a path I must have missed during my sulking session. He didn’t pretend to know I wasn’t there, but he also didn’t know exactly what to do with me either. I mean he obviously had a rendezvous with some sweet little thing further down the trail and if I wasn’t going to make a move, well then he aimed to keep that appointment.
I kept telling myself not to move my eyeballs. Stay still and let him make the mistake. Well, that was part of my brain telling me to do that. The part that never wins.
The bigger part of my brain (maybe that should be read “smaller”) saw myself doing a forward roll, scooping up my bow, loading the arrow (oh, and finishing my manicure mid flight) and launching myself horizontally through the air as I drew back, blew a kiss to my endearing fans while my arrow split his heart in two.
What actually happened was none of the above. I tried to sit there still, but the deer didn’t need a sixth sense to know that I was up to no good.
He spun on his hooves and started his trot to the outskirts of the field.
“Well sitting here looking stupid isn’t gonna help the situation.” I coached myself as I reached for my bow and sunk the arrow into place.
I saw the arch he was on and had a good idea where he was going. If he stayed on the same trajectory he would be within shooting range in a few seconds.
I reached for my rangefinder and pre-ranged the spot I expected him to appear at. The grass was tall and made for a bit of a guess job as to where I actually had the crosshairs.
Sixty-seven yards. Doable if he did the typical mule deer thing and froze when he saw me again.
Just like I had hoped for. He crossed the aforementioned spot, slammed on the brakes and looked over at me. He froze like he was looking at Medusa herself.
I slowly dialed my sight in. Sixty seven on the dot.
My shot sequence went off without me knowing it. The pin was centered.
“Squeeze your back man. Pull through the shot.” I thought, trying to keep that rack out of my peripheral.
My draw arm flew back indicating that the shot was off.
I watched through my housing as the arrow increased its revolution, screaming towards the course I sent it on.
“That didn’t sound good.” I mumble to myself as I watched the mule deer high-tailing ass out of the country.
I looked at my bow as if demanding an explanation.
“What gives?” I ask it, feeling betrayed. I was dead on and rock solid on the shot, this I knew, but the arrow sailed over his back.
With no response forthcoming, I got up and walked over to where the buck had been standing only moments before.
Turning around and ranging my backpack which was making my shooting location and this genius had the mystery of the century solved.
“Fifty four yards you say?” I said as I shook the rangefinder, figuring this would fix whatever was wrong with it.
I re-range it, with the growing fear of my stupidity.
“Yup, it’s official, you’re dumb.” Is all I could say to comfort myself.
After collecting my arrow that was a perfect 10-ring in a tree, I walked over and grabbed my gear.
I looked at my watch.
“Shit, your late for your next tea party.” I said as I walk off to find another place to sulk.
// Fred Bohm