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Birdshot and backlashes

The deer season is not a particularly big deal. But getting ready for the deer season is. Actual hunting is a matter of taking the rifle out of its case, loading up and moving out into the woods. Some of us used to figure we spent six hours getting ready for every hour we spent hunting. And that may be a low estimate.Even Joe Weekender, who goes out opening day, part of the second day and maybe the morning of the second Saturday, has some extracurricular activities to take care of.Where does the gun shoot? Even on the odd chance that Joe might get a shot, will the bullet go where he is looking? When was the last time the rifle was sighted in?It would seem just basic that the hunter should know that when he lines in the sights and pulls the trigger, the bullet goes where it is supposed to. Uh huh. There is hardly a hunter around who hasn’t missed an easy shot and after a second thought decided to fire a few round at a knot hole in a dead tree only to find that his rifle is shooting a foot to the right or left or maybe doesn’t hit the tree at all.And this has nothing to do with the fact that a lot of deer hunters are lousy shots. Just moving the rifle around can jar the sights loose. I had one of my kids knock my deer gun down the cellar stairs one year And didn’t tell daddy about it. Of course a nice buck popped out of the woods on opening day. Three shots later I checked the sights and found the rifle was so far off it wouldn’t have hit that deer standing next to me. That’s just one item. The real, dedicated, out-every-day deer hunter is a different case. There is a load of stuff which must be purchased in preparation, like bottles of stinkum made up from deer pee. There is even spray which makes the hunter smell like nothing at all. Or maybe some elixir designed with apple smell to make a deer think the hunter is an apple to lunch on. Hoo boy!And then there is the grunt. No deer hunter thinks of going into the woods any more without his grunt call. Bucks grunt. It is how they tell other bucks to keep the heck away from their girl friends. A good grunter can get a thoroughly angry deer to walk up within a few yards. Rattling antlers is the same idea. Bucks bang their antlers on saplings and on each other. A good rattler can pull a deer from a quarter mile away. But it takes hours and hours to learn how to use all this stuff, even with a good, expensive record with which to learn. A most important item is the deer stand. How important has been in the headlines ever since the last deer season when there was a shoot-out over a deer stand down in Wisconsin.A deer “stand” is not a stand at all. It is where the hunter sits. It could better be called a “deer sit,” but it isn’t. Deer stands can be no more than a stump in the woods, but dedicated hunters build more elaborate hideaways. And not one, but several. We figured that we erected enough deer stands over the years that the materials could have built a nice two-bedroom home.A deer stand is usually constructed up in a tree. Like the tree house you had as a kid. Only now you aren’t a kid any more, but you are still up in the air. Along with a hot thermos of coffee, a massive lunch, a propane heater and enough ammunition to destroy al Qaida.Of course, several days were spent cutting down brush and saplings to clear the “fire lanes” so it will be possible to shoot if a buck does show up. It is all very involved and incomprehensible to wives, friends and non-hunting relatives. And the hunter gets out of a warm bed at 4 a.m. to perhaps acquire 50 pounds of venison that costs him $15 a pound. There are some observers who say deer hunters are totally nuts. Oh yeah? How about ice fishermen?

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