Tips for the mighty woodsman

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 13, 2005

For the most part, men who grow up in Alabama enjoy the perks of the great outdoors. One of these perks is hunting season.

With the start of October comes squirrel season, which is an excellent chance to break out the .22 rifle and test one’s marksmanship. It is also a chance to get back in touch with Mother Nature. Last Saturday, this was my full intention, but things took a very strange turn. From what should have been a routine trip into the woods I have not learned several valuable lessons that I would like to share with anyone else who will listen.

Lesson number one, if you are squirrel-hunting stick to the format. While I was strolling through the woods I came across my good and elusive friends the wild hogs. Since I had never bagged one of the critters before and have a serious addiction to pork I could not resist the temptation to bring one down.

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This brings me to lesson two. Make sure you are armed with enough firepower to get the job done. I learned this weekend that from a heft distance a .22 rifle would do little more than give the larger hogs a bad attitude. I finally got my critter, but not before making he and a couple of friends very, very angry.

Lesson three, consider how much trouble it will be to recover your game and weigh this heavily in the decision to pull the trigger. In my excitement I chose to pull the trigger on a critter across a fairly deep creek. Anyone else who was out and about Saturday morning will tell you it was not good weather for a swim. However, that is exactly where I ended up.

My first encounter with the cold, cold water leads me to lesson number four. Do not trust a foot-log for anything. I was lucky enough to drop this hog close to the Robert E. Lee natural bridge (which the true Andy Griffith fans can identify as a fallen tree). I was very unlucky in that there was a clump of wet, slippery mud at the foot of the bridge. Before I knew it I did not have to worry about how cold the water was going to be. I got a hands on, freezing cold experience.

Of course this leads right into lesson four. I you are going to enjoy the great outdoors leave the technological world behind. In my negligence I left my least favorite tool of all, the dreaded cell phone, in my pocket. It gave me great pleasure to see the cell phone destroyed when I fell in the creek, but it also made my life extremely complicated.

Luckily, in all my misfortune, there was no one there to point and laugh. This brings me to lesson five, which is always hunt alone. Contrary to what people may tell you about the buddy system I have found solitude in the woods to be a wonderful thing because no one can see when goofy things happen to you. I fell into a creek and made a fool of myself multiple times over a period of about one hour. But no one was there to see it but an unfortunate hog and myself.

Hopefully, as hunting season hits its peak in mid November these tips will come in handy.