I’m not going to turn this blog into some sort of confessional, there are plenty of blogs like that out there, and I’m willing to bet that a good many of them do it better than I could.
Still, there have been things in life keeping me out of the fields, forests, and marshes, and I’ve been hearing it through my email, Twitter, and from friends about my recent disappearance from the hunting world. And I can only fight back with stilted, painful attempts at humour.
You see, there are a good many things that I am terrible at when it comes to hunting. Sitting still is one of them, and I am certain that this is why I’m a generally unsuccessful turkey hunter, despite what could be argued are marginally above average abilities as a turkey caller. Being observant is also not my strong suit…I’m often day dreaming or humming a tune in my head or trying to come up with the next clever and witty blog post when I should be watching for game, and I have a suspicion that I’d be a better deer hunter if I paid closer attention to the woods around me. My friends, hunting mentors, and so on don’t seem to have these failings and it is a constant source of shame for me, but also has instituted somewhat of a tradition of ‘ripping on Shawn’ which I find both charming and emotionally crippling.
With that in mind, I’m always seeking to upgrade my skills. Since my recent move to a new town sidelined my annual duck opener excursion last weekend, I thought I’d leverage my time at the mall and in the hardware stores to illustrate the ways that I spent the last four days improving my hunting skills, even though I wasn’t hunting.
Lying is a critical skill for all hunters, and I got plenty of exposure to lying this past weekend. In the hunting world, some common lies that are popular include fabricating what you were doing when you botched a shot, lying about how big (or small) a given animal was, making up the distance of certain shots, or telling your friends that you missed a shot at a running coyote when in reality you hurriedly blazed two shots nowhere near a standing deer because you were surprised and really shouldn’t have been shooting in the first place. In the world I was residing in this past weekend, some of my go-to lies included feigning enthusiasm over bathroom cabinet styles, pretending to be happy to spend nearly a grand on paint, lighting, and tools, and telling people that I didn’t really mind organizing my unpacking and organizing my basement while my buddies had some laughs and shot a pile of ducks and geese. I lie so well now, that I’m considering a career move into municipal government.
While I may not be observant or stealthy, one thing I am good at being (when necessary) is quiet. Of course I can make a whole lot racket on a goose, duck, or turkey call when the mood strikes me, and it is true that I never shut up when I’m with my buddies in the waterfowl blinds (I like to make jokes…so sue me), when sitting on stand alone, silence is simple. I’m also working on navigating the woods more silently as well, and it is coming along. To that end, I got some great practice this past weekend. For example, I mastered the skill of silently slipping away from my wife while she perused paint colours, and I became an expert at not saying a word when my name was called to assist her with painting the hallway while our son was being a nuisance. Navigating the soul-crushing pandemonium of Bed, Bath, and Beyond will hone any hunter’s ability to move silently and swiftly through narrow, constricted spaces. I feel the effort put in now will serve me well come November.
Being decisive is so important to hunters that it is second nature to many. Take the shot or don’t? Left-hand trail or right-hand trail? 12ga or 20ga? Go the toilet in the woods or hold it? These are all vital decisions that require timely and committed decision making, and sometimes in the hunt these decisions figure themselves out. In the dog-eat-dog world of moving and home improvement, there are decisions that carry as much (or maybe more) gravity, and none of them are going to sort themselves out. Ivory Palace paint for the living room or Currier Cream? Does the TV look good in the corner or should we hang it over the fireplace? Should we hang the mirror here or there? Gas line BBQ or propane? You see how intense it could be. For those who say that hunting decisions are more important because they can be life-or-death has never tried to tape and paint trim with my wife.
These are but a smattering of the skills developed this past weekend that will no doubt make me a more lethal and efficient predator in the woods. If I could only find a way to apply my skills of procrastinating when it comes to blog updates or of alienating self-proclaimed ‘serious’ hunters, there would be no stopping me. But at least not showing up at the camp gives my buddies more ammo to torch me with the next time we get together, which should be in about two weeks’ time.
Right after a friend’s wedding next weekend and only once I get my pesky guest bedroom in order…