August 8, 2008
We have made everything so complicated. When I was a kid all you needed to go hunting was a gun and some ammo. Now when I go into Cabelas I’m amazed at all the toys and tools that are seemingly necessary to shoot at something these days. Anti-fog goggles, shooting chairs, game feeders, scan-scouting cameras, Garmin GPS devices, deer stands, range finders, night vision goggles and high powered spotlights for shooting from the comfort of your truck. Personally, I think using some of this stuff is like using a fish finder: it’s cheating, plain and simple.
To outfit today’s hunter takes a fat wallet and a sense of style. There are camo clothes that blend in with hardwoods, softwoods, snow, desert, dirt and Mossy Oak even has a concealment series that is covered with fake leaves for raking your lawn. They even sell camo saddles, although, I don’t know how much good that will do if your horse is a paint or a pinto. Some mad scientist is probably working on horse camo right now by putting a chameleon gene in Quarter Horses.
Odor seems to be a big deal with hunters. There are sprays and fragrances to make you smell like dry rot or deer and camo clothes with charcoal filters to absorb your own odors so as to not give your position away. For aromatically challenged individuals, Cabelas sells High Performance Underwear with Scent Eliminator©. (I could probably use a pair of these even when it’s not hunting season, if you know what I mean?) I was surprised to learn that the avid hunter can buy enzyme scent protection in the form of body soap, shampoo and conditioner, laundry detergent, shaving cream and mouth spray. Although I must say, if your breath is so bad that it will scare animals away you’ve got more serious problems than finding a deer.
I was most amazed by the electronic game callers. Have you seen these? They are like miniature computers that produce sounds that are supposed to attract whatever it is you are hunting. I dialed in an elk call and the resulting reverberation sounded like a seal being given a colonoscopy without the benefit of anesthesia. You can buy duck calls, rubbing sticks and even antlers to help attract game.
This reminds me of a story I heard about a deer hunter in south Texas who heard the sound of bucks fighting while sitting in his deer stand. So he immediately got out his antlers and started banging them together in hopes of attracting the big bucks within shooting distance. He rattled throughout the scorching day and every time he’d bang his antlers together he’d hear the bucks fighting again in an even more frenzied state. After spending his entire morning doing this without spotting a buck he decided to sneak around and see if he could spot the fighting deer. Imagine his surprise when all he found was another deer hunter who’d been banging his antlers together all morning too. They’d been “communicating” with each other all morning and there wasn’t a deer within five miles of the place. Probably scared away by all the racket.
There has got to be an easier way to hunt and a fellow in California has found it. My friend Dennis Smith wrote in his Northern California Traveler about a hunter, Shawn Hill, who brought a big buck with an unusual set of antlers to the Eagle Lake General Store to enter in their Big Buck contest. They took a picture and hung it on the wall and for awhile it looked like Shawn would be the big winner.
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Then, one by one, the residents of the area came in the store, saw the picture and let out howls that resembled those of our intestinally challenged seal. It seems that Shawn had blown away the town pet: a deer many residents fed and had their picture standing next to. Needless to say, Shawn disappeared faster than a pizza in a frat house and the angry residents can’t seem to find him anywhere. My guess is they’ll never find him because he’s probably wearing his High Performance Underwear with Scent Eliminator©.
Email Lee Pitts at firstname.lastname@example.org