By Kat Hobza, Humor Writer
...Specializing in Sarcasm and Sass
My life as a boy
By Kat Hobza
My father had three girls. With not a son among us, he made do and raised us all as boys. Each of us learned to chop wood, tie our own fishing line, hunt and shoot. In fact in high school, I shot competitively with a .45 semi-automatic. Most girls wanted to be a cheerleader. I just wanted to knock over six steel plates in a row in less than ten seconds.
Instead of mowing lawns or babysitting to save money for Christmas like normal teenagers, I went coyote hunting. My dad said I could earn $25 a pelt! Twenty-five bucks! Every night after school I went in search of my elusive prey. Dad failed to mention that I would first have to spot a coyote. And then I would have shoot at it with some measure of accuracy. It was a pretty slim Christmas that year.
With great fondness, I remember the bonding time with Dad that returned each year on a cool fall breeze. I once asked him, many hunting seasons ago, if it was wise to eat an animal that answered the call of a vacuum hose, or was attracted to the scent of its own urine. His reply discouraged me from asking any more philosophical questions.
Fall time for most means apple pies, baked bread, maple syrup and hide and seek parties in the leaves. At our house, it meant crowding around the television to watch the latest video on how to thwart an animal with a brain the size of a mushroom. At the time, my sisters and I did not think it was disturbing to watch grown men crawl around in the grass with no shoes on, explaining their insight in exaggerated whispers. Then we grew up. A crossed eyed ninny named Fester who was no doubt lathered in elk pee always began his pearls of wisdom the same: “When I go hunting I like to…”. What followed was perceived by my sisters and I as painfully obvious. “When I go hunting, I like to bring a rifle. Sometimes, I load it with ammunition.” In our late adolescence, the only motivation for watching such videos was to ridicule them, much to the annoyance of my well-meaning father.
About seven years ago, I shot and killed my first and only deer. It was in Minnesota, from a tree stand, with a shotgun. Our ringleader, an older gentleman, was all business. On his property he had several tree stands, and a hunting strategy that would rival any military attack in history. He gave my husband and I explicit, blow-by-blow instructions, which we had to repeat back to him. I was instructed to get in my tree stand and told if I did shoot something, to not get out of the tree stand, lest I scare away remaining deer for the other hunters. I thought to ask if the shotgun blast might be more alarming to the deer than retreating from my perch, but was silenced by my husband’s sideways glance.
Our fearless leader left us to execute his well-laid plan. The first obstacle was actually getting in the tree stand. I had so much outwear on, that when my husband tried to pitch me onto a branch, he was unable. So I bobbed back and forth, half on half off the tree branch, laughing so hard I had absolutely no strength to propel myself upward. I think my husband wanted to reprimand me, and remind me that I wasn’t being nearly serious enough, but he was laughing hysterically too. I’m sure I looked like some morbidly obese prehistoric brown bird, stuck in a tree, a victim of its own immense weight. Finally, I caught my balance and was able to scale the rudimentary ladder.
I got up to the platform, waved to my husband and studied my surroundings. I can describe it best by drawing a comparison. If my hunting ground was a hotel, and I was asked to rate it somewhere between a Marriott and a Motel Six, it would fall into the “Belly Up To A Stained Mat and Catch a Few Winks” category. My platform was hardly a tree stand. It was more like a tree tenement. Trash hung in the tree, flies swarmed and I swore I heard an orphan baby cry in the distance. If I had built it, I would have allowed for much more square footage, a plant in the corner, maybe a pantry with pull out shelves for some food. And why not a small bookshelf or at the very least a magazine rack? What this dump needed was a wreath, a welcome sign, something. A water cooler would be nice too. I mean I may as well be in as much comfort waiting for my deer as I am, say, at the doctor’s office. For all his masterminding, my host really fell short on interior design.
So I waited, and waited. At last, I heard my quarry approach. First on the trail was a doe. Ever since I had children, I could not stomach the idea of killing a female deer. All I could think about was how she had probably labored to bring babies into the world, nursed them and raised them alone. And how she would not be returning to her children if I shot her. The first doe was followed by two more. At this rate, I was going to have to concoct an ironclad excuse for why I hadn’t shot a doe. Then he showed up.
A big fat buck. I have positively no misgivings about shooting a buck. As far as males go, they really couldn’t be more worthless. They’re rotten fathers and they have no mating finesse whatsoever. For instance, a male peacock or pheasant has impressive plumage and engages in a self-deprecating dance to entice females. Male birds make utter fools of themselves, the females feel sorry for them, and they mate. (You’ve seen it happen in bars a hundred times.) Bucks just show up with their big antlers. Like the females are supposed to be all impressed with two overgrown bones sticking out of their heads. Big deal. I bet they are considered “tan trash” by their wildlife peers. But I digress….
In strolls this cocky buck, following his harem, undoubtedly with visions of mating the females running through his blockhead. I silently raised my weapon, took aim and dropped that bastard like a bad habit. The petite does looked over their shoulders, then turned and waved their little hooves in the air at me, showing me their gratitude.
I would have waved back, but I was too busy trying not to fall out of the tree stand. My host had asked me to remain in my tree stand so as not to scare the rest of the herd, and though he hadn’t clarified, I assumed falling from the stand was also forbidden. The blast from the shotgun had rocked me back on my heels and I would have spiraled downward from that inadequate eight inch rotted out piece of wood had a big tree not been there to catch me.
I was allowed to leave my perch a few minutes later. The seven other members of my hunting party, all men, crowded around me. I had shot the only buck in our group. The men treated me like a high priestess, dropping to their knees and bowing at my feet. Even my husband, whom I had been married to for six years and for whom I had bore two children looked on with unparalleled pride.
I didn’t skin my deer. I could have if I wanted to. My father had taught me years ago, although all I remember is not to cut through the paunch. Not to get too graphic here, but the smell that emanates if you do will just about ruin a person on venison forever. That’s day one stuff. But I was a high priestess now, so I was content to watch my plebes dress out the now impotent buck for me. The men carried me back to the garage, all two hundred pounds of me, on their shoulders. I was given a cot to relax on, in front of a roaring fire, while they cut up the meat. They offered to sacrifice a virgin after dinner, but I told them that the brownies made by the wife of our dethroned leader would do nicely.
I was given robes to wear to dinner. The men, now my subordinate scum, laid gifts of raw silk, frankincense, myrrh and precious metals at my bare feet. I was granted the largest portion of meat, and everyone looked on expectantly as I took my first bite. Then everyone partook, complimenting me on my hunting prowess. I watched the men refill my wine glass, clear the table and wash the dishes. It was a night to behold.
You might think being welcomed to the other side is an honor and privilege and that women everywhere might covet my queenly status among the male population. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. The raw silk was nice, but the frankincense and myrrh stunk, so I took it back. And men don’t bathe when they hunt. Need I say more? They think the smell of deodorant and shampoo will alienate their animal foe. Like the smell of three day ass won’t. Once you are accepted into the fold, they also think they have license to indiscriminately belch and fart in front of you. I like a raucous bout of gas as much as the next high priestess, but since I am female, I am missing the strand of DNA that allows me to share in the fun with any measure of competency. I’m also pretty sure that hanging with the guys and participating in testosterone filled activities stunted the growth of my breasts. I don’t have any scientific evidence to corroborate that theory, but since when do I need science or evidence of any kind to accept something as fact?
Nowadays, I’m content to sit back and torment my husband during hunting season (something I’m way better at than hunting). It’s great sport to get under his skin by reminding him annually that by the time he buys gear, ammo, gas, food, elk urine, vacuum hoses and other hunting paraphernalia, it would be cheaper to buy a cow to put in the freezer. And if that doesn’t do the trick, I never miss an opportunity to roll my eyes when one of his friends tells a hunting story, wowing everyone with tales of how much more intelligent they are than the deer (from where I’m sitting, the jury is still out). We know damn well that the deer gather round the campfire every night and entertain their deer peers with stories of how they gave some clueless hunter, who trailed them for miles, the slip.
I actually temper my mockery, because I like venison. My family was raised on road kill. My father was a Fish and Game Warden who used to strap the carcass de jour to our swing set. Every night at the dinner table, my dad issued the same warning, “Watch for headlight glass.” I wish I was kidding. But at least with venison, you know the food you are consuming has not been basting in animal feces at room temperature or shot full of synthetic hormones that give girls deep voices and make boys want to watch a movie marathon on the LifeTime channel.
Oddly, I have been cordially disinvited from hunting this year. Maybe I’ll bake some pies, a loaf of bread, rent a hunting video or drape myself in raw silk, splash on a little frankincense and reminisce about hunting seasons of yore.