My Dad used to be a hunter. He would store his “harvest” in the garage refrigerator for my brother and sisters and me to enjoy at our pleasure. The garage refrigerator is an appliance that you will find in all of our homes.
Dad’s “trophies” were aluminum, plastic, or sometimes bottled. He did not pursue any firearm hunting. Dad liked to find the best prices on Coke. We call soft drinks “coke” in our family; an Olsen reference for many different types of carbonated beverages, even the yucky diet kind.
There is another type of hunter that most outdoor enthusiasts are more familiar with. Many Missourians and guests recently completed the most popular of all Missouri hunting seasons, the regular firearms deer season which ran November 12-22.
Just as Dad would prepare for his hunt by checking out newspaper specials (he did not live to enjoy Groupon), and calculating his mileage if he went from the Price Chopper to the Kroger to the Country Mart to K-Mart and how many cases he was allowed with each purchase, deer hunting enthusiasts go through their own rituals as they prepare to take their deer.
The deer stand is in place for weeks following scouting expeditions looking for deer signs, trails, and scrapes. The hunting rifles are cleaned and well oiled; more than usual they pay close attention to every weather forecast; they plan if they have to travel to their favorite or most recently successful spot; they prepare meals, or at least stock up on groceries; and put together their hunting ensemble. To call it an ensemble is a bit of a stretch, but they are at least putting together their hunting “gear” to be capped off with just the right shade of orange that is good for all complexions and hair color, and a safety necessity.
Although I am not an active hunter, I always consider that I am an important cast of the hunting party. I have affectionately referred to myself on these annual forays as the “kitchen wench.” I prepare all of the meals and make sure I have hot chocolate and/or coffee available at all times. It is also my job to ensure that no early morning meal leaves any fragrance to the crew; no lingering smell of bacon can be on the hunting party’s clothes, or in their hair. For the uninitiated, the scent of the hunter is a key accessory to the ensemble. This is an important technique I had to be taught, as it didn’t matter how we smelled when we rode with Dad all over the Northland to nab the best Coke prices.
In addition to learning about the importance of scent, or rather the importance of the LACK of scent, I also came to learn that this is a sport that begins well before the crack of dawn. Here is where I liked Dad’s hunting hours better. Most of the stores were not 24/7 then as they are now, and we didn’t have to be there BEFORE the doors open.
As every successful deer hunter knows, you should be well in position BEFORE the opening ray of daylight dawns and before the deer start their movement. This is so that you are well camouflaged and you are not heard or seen from any suspecting deer before you are allowed to take your first shot.
So, in order to get everyone rousted, fed, clothed in many layers, sprayed with scent eliminator, positioned in their assigned hunting location, while making as little noise as possible, we start these days around 4 a.m. This follows the late night before in our competitive Trivial Pursuit game. You must know how much I love the Danner family to realize that I acclimated to these ungodly hours to enjoy their family traditions.
Here is to another successful and safe deer harvest. I am salivating thinking of the deer jerky to come. Unfortunately, our hunting party has thus far been skunked.