Articles and memes circulate on social media and sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference between the two. You know the articles…with titles like “Women Who Spend Time with Their Sisters Live Longer than Loners” or “Scientific Research Proves People Who Have Three Cats Make More Money than Those with Labrador Retrievers.”
In the last week, two different Facebook friends shared such an article, based apparently on research done by a professor of behavioral science.
“Unmarried Women with No Kids are the ‘Healthiest and Happiest Population Subgroup,’ Says Expert.”
I exercised a great deal of restraint when I saw these posts. In my mind, I wrote a pithy and tart comment like “that’s a lie from the pit of Hell, but whatever.”
The hunting man and I have been out on the stand three times now; morning hunt, evening hunt, and rainy afternoon hunt. We saw nothing and after the latter expedition, he dropped me off and said “you should go out on your father’s land by yourself.” He suggested a familiar spot I’d written about here on this blog.
I was nervous. I geared up early Saturday morning and went through the motions he’d taught me. I drove over to our land 45 minutes before sunrise and parked the Jeep where I always do. Baumer’s Field was breathtakingly beautiful in the dawn light. I was drawn to that field and starting walking quietly through it and away from where I needed to be. I looked down on my boots and thought of the Andrew Wyeth painting “Trodden Weed” even though my boots and the landscape looked nothing like Wyeth’s. In a surreal moment of mystery and beauty, I was captured inside a canvas. There was another painting I saw in my mind’s eye; I snapped out of my trance and turned around. I was not where I needed to be.
I’m embarrassed to admit the first thing I did when I settled into my spot was post a picture on Instagram. I wrote “I should be watching, but instead I’m thinking about #andrewwyeth paintings like #turkeypond and “troddenweed.”
I put my phone down and looked up.
Damn, there was a buck in the field, halfway between the hackmatack tree and me. I put the deer in my sights and noticed it had two small spike horns, about four inches high. I would later learn this aged the buck at about a year and a half. I took the safety off the rifle and watched. The buck came closer and I sat unmoving. My mind was racing. Was it big enough? What would happen if I killed it? What if I missed? How would I get it out of the field?
I forgot I had an “any deer permit” and I forgot rifle hunting season ends on November 30.
The buck looked up, smelled the air curiously. It didn’t see me. It eventually walked into the woods, looking bigger with each step it took away from me. The title to the social media article I’d write would be “Maine Women Hunters Facebook Page Keeps Unmarried Childless Woman from Shooting Her First Deer.”
Moment of truth…I’ve been following the page on Facebook and noting all the big-ass bucks Maine women have killed this season. Some of these women are really beautiful and put-together in their Cabela camouflage. Comparing my potential buck to theirs influenced my decision. The hunting man brought that to my attention last night as we talked through my future “hunting alone” strategy.
He hates social media. I wish I did too, because I regret not taking that shot and going up to Butcher Boys in Bowdoin to have my deer weighed and processed. Life is not a flat and sanitized canvass of images and feel good lies from the pit of Hell. If you’d ever been to Butcher Boys at the end of a hunting season day, you’d know that.
Hashtag damn it all.
I’ve got to take a searching and fearless inventory of my refrigerator and cupboards today; get organized so I can go out hunting more next week and put a Thanksgiving dinner on the table.