“The old man used to say that the best part of hunting and fishing was the thinking about going and the talking about it after you got back.”— Robert Ruark, author of The Old Man and the Boy.
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Magic fills the fall air as hunting season is almost here. Working on the upcoming ‘Outdoor Guide’ at the Light and Champion in my day job reminded me of the best part, the hunting stories. Every year, new experiences are enjoyed and new stories are told. Except for mine.
By admission, I am not versed in the epics of hunting. Went with my father as a kid and with a friend in college. But the only episodes I had to cherish were little more than humorous material for a column.
My all time favorite hunting story was told by the most avid outdoor sportsmen I ever called a friend and with whom I also worked, Bobby Pinkston. And he always swore it was true.
Bobby began his stories with a smile. The first day of the season starts, he always told this one, about 1:00 a.m. when your alarm clock goes off. Funny how an alarm clock at that time of the morning is louder than usual.
Around 2, your huntin’ partner arrives and drags you out of bed.
At 2:23, you throw everything in the pickup truck. By 3, you’re on your way to the woods. About 20 minutes down the road, you remember leaving your rifle at home. So, you go back, get it, then start drivin’ like crazy to get to your stand by daylight.
At 4:35 a.m., you’re settin’ up the deer camp and discover that you also forgot the tent. Around 5, you’ve given up on camp and headed into the woods.
Just as the sun is comin’ up, you see five deer grazing close to you. You take careful aim and squeeze the trigger.
The deer disappear over the hill while you’re loadin’ your rifle and mumbling under your breath.
Somewhere around 8, you climb out of the stand thinking, “Back to camp for breakfast.” It’s 8:34 when you’re wondering if you’re headed in the right direction. By 10, you realize you don’t have a clue where camp is.
At noon, you fire your gun to signal for help. Then, at 12:10, you eat a handful of wild berries because you’re starving. At 12:13, you see six deer just a few feet away. But you’re out of ammunition because you used it all signaling for help.
At around 12:21 p.m., you get a strange feeling in your stomach. Two minutes later, you realize you must have eaten poison berries. Cold sweats, cramps, and fear of dying alone in the woods overcomes you.
Around 3:15, you finally find your way back to camp; tired, hungry, and sick. Ten minutes later, your huntin’ buddy says, “Well, let’s hit the woods again and see if we can find that big one.
It’s 4:04 p.m. when you return to camp after realizing you failed to get more ammunition.
At 4:07, you’re leaving camp again, with ammo. At 5:10, you haven’t seen anything except pesky squirrels irritating you. So, you empty your rifle at them. The squirrels escape unharmed.
Back in camp by 6, you see seven deer grazing nearby. You quietly reload your rifle and fire, missing the deer but hitting the pickup.
At 6:07, your huntin’ partner returns to camp draggin’ a trophy-size deer with a huge rack. You control the urge to shoot your huntin’ partner but instead throw your gun down in frustration, stumbling and falling into the campfire in the process.
By 6:12, you’re changin’ clothes and throwin’ the burned ones in the campfire. Still mad at 6:15, you take the pickup and leave your huntin’ partner with his trophy deer in the woods.
At 6:34, you’re sittin’ on the side of the road. The pickup got hot and boiled over. You discover a bullet hole in the radiator.
Walkin’ toward town at 6:39, you stumble and fall, droppin’ your gun in the mud. At 6:42, you see eight deer close to the road. You take careful aim and pull the trigger. Your gun blows up because it’s plugged with mud. You wrap what’s left of the rifle barrel around a tree and keep walking.
Somewhere around midnight, you stumble into your house.
You spend Sunday afternoon watchin’ a football game while tearin’ your huntin’ license into tiny pieces, which you stuff in an envelope to mail your huntin’ partner with detailed instructions on what he can do with the unwanted license.
This was Bobby’s story and he stuck to it. Always swore it was true … somewhere, on the first day of the season.
The primary reason it was my favorite story was not just the way he told it. It was also because it was uncomfortably close to my own attempts at hunting.
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Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune, the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, the Alpine Avalanche, and the Fort Stockton Pioneer.
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