Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Some things just aren't meant to be...

Many of you know I hunt. I started seriously hunting in 2000, in order to have a reliable source of venison. Bob's penchant has changed from shooting deer to getting his friends their first buck. We do get a share, but a whole deer is better yet! So I threw myself into it, read everything I could, spent time in target practice, got a feel for what guns I like, scouted the 68 acres we own up near Clarion, PA, and learned everything I could. But no deer. Usually just never saw one - in season! I also took up archery, and in fact am even a little better shot with an arrow than with a gun.

In 2003, I became the first woman to score a bull tag in the PA Elk license lottery, and subsequently the first woman to bag a bull elk in the modern hunt, maybe the first ever.

But all these years, I have yet to bag a PA whitetail - unless you count the one I got with my Exploder out on Rt 228...

So I was convinced that this year was my year. I took a week's vacation for archery season, had my treestand up, bow tuned, was making every shot at every distance, had all sorts of stuff to eliminate my scent, went out that first morning, un-scented, fully camouflaged, KNOWING that if that big 10 point I saw last year came anywhere near me, he was MINE.

I went out before dawn to where my stand was. I looked and looked, and could not find it. "Well Jan," I said to myself, "Some mighty hunter YOU are, you can't even find your own stand, you moron!" So I went back to the house, waited for light, then came back to find...

It was stolen. I couldn't find it because IT WASN'T THERE! Someone had come on our property, seen it, left, come back with bolt cutters and an ATV, and cut the chain (we had it padlocked to the tree) and took it away. Now archery hunting from the ground is not impossible, but I had estrus scent planted, and you don't want to be on the ground when a buck in the rut comes near. So between that and the rain, my week of hunting was pretty much ruined.

Oh well, there's always gun season. Unbeknownst to me, my dear, sweet honey bought me another tree stand. So I had one day left of vacation, and I took it on opening day. There was my new stand, right where my old one was! Yippee! That morning, I saw lots of deer, but nothing I could put antlers on for sure, and I only had an antlered license. I went up to the house, Bob and I did some walking, he flushed some deer out of the briars where they were hiding, and I headed back to the stand to wait for them to come down my way. As I settled in, something just didn't feel quite right. I looked down to see the ladder bowed out at a bad angle. OK, I'm getting out of here! So I slung my rifle across my back and started down the ladder. I got down about 2 rungs (so really still up there at 16 feet), and the one strap holding the stand to the tree let loose and the stand swung around in an arc and crashed to the ground, along with me. :)

I landed on my back (and my gun!) and stared up at the sky. Well, I'm still conscious, that's encouraging! Slowly I took inventory - fingers and toes, arms and legs, back OK - let's try to stand up. Did that, felt OK. Not good, I could definitely tell I fell hard, you know that feeling - not pain exactly, but not nice, either.

"BOB!!!!!!!" I yelled at the top of my lungs. He was already on his way, having heard the crash from the porch. "I guess you're OK?" he asked. "From now on," I told him, "I will supervise the setup of the treestand!"

So I am battered, bruised, and sore, but OK. And I have decided someone is trying to tell me something, having one stand stolen and the other fallen - I'm done hunting for this year. Some things are just not meant to be, lol!

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