By Otha Barham
The Meridian Star
We are funny creatures. Either funny Ha! Ha!, or funny strange. I am thinking of the common characteristic of taking one something out of life and getting fanatic about it; going overboard; taking it to the extreme; both funny and strange.
Now take deer hunters. I knew one hunter who, when the use of scents to fool a deer's superior sense of smell was growing in popularity, covered himself with scent glands he had collected from various kinds of animals. He had the pungent glands tied all over his clothes by strings, some even dragged behind his shoes.
He dashed the contents of deer bladders onto himself, soaking his jacket, pants and hat. I am certain no deer could smell his human scent. But the deer dogs smelled his cover scents and bayed him in the woods. He had to be rescued.
Another deer hunting friend takes neatness to a level beyond necessity. I see his neatness as approaching fanaticism probably because of my own dearth of it. At our deer club we marked the trails leading to our green fields by placing our names on small boards tacked to a tree where the trail leaves the road. We took a stick dipped in paint and smeared our names onto a scrap of wood and nailed it up onto a crooked sweet gum bush.
But not Frank (not his real name). His professionally lettered name glows like a lawyer's shingle on a pastel yellow board atop a treated fence post. One can see that the post and its sign were set with a level, square and plumb, and positioned for comfortable viewing by passersby from either the right or the left. Signs on New York City's fifth avenue are no more fussed over.
Even I am sometimes accused of having this trait of excess in my deer hunting behavior. But in my case I am wrongly accused. They say I carry too much stuff on the hunt. But the truth is I go well prepared. I learned the rule in Boy Scouts.
So what if the group has to wait on me 20 minutes while I load my gear for a 45 minute deer drive. If one of the boorish throng needs something in the woods, he stops his jeering and comes to me whining for help. That fanatic Barham guy will have it; in several colors!
Look, I have tracked wounded deer away from green fields in the dark and found myself in briar thickets not knowing which way was out. My compass always saved me lots of needless wandering. The extra rope in my pack has held deer legs tied to bushes and pulled out of my way for field dressing. The lip balm and cough drops and suntan lotion all have comforted me on deer stands.
The thermos of hot coffee or the cold canned drink have made my days in the woods more enjoyable. The game hoist has saved my back. The big bandanna has warmed my neck and wiped my hands and wrapped a wound. And who can hunt deer without a grunt call and binoculars and warm gloves and lots of sandwiches and snacks? My critics should stop grousing about my ultra preparedness and thank me for having most anything they need which they thoughtlessly left at home. I will continue to carry the banner of the well prepared.
The fact that my 4-wheeler could not climb that 15 degree slope in the Colorado snow had not a single thing to do with the load I had strapped to its front and rear racks. The spare hand winch, extra winch cable, 200 feet of rope, steel thermos, canvas game bags, emergency tarp, survival kit, change of clothes and block and tackle all fit snugly beneath my back pack and could have come in very handy in those mountains. My ATV's engine is just too small to handle steep, snowy hills.
There is fanaticism, and then there is wise preparation! Leave me alone!