|No Frogs, Please|
I'm sure I'm beginning to sound like a broken record (or is it now culturally correct to call it a "broken CD?") with my insufferable griping about the warm weather patterns of Spring and Fall. However, this thing has begun to cut into our lifestyles so deeply that someone's got to say something. Had such a trend lasted only one year, I'd be willing to dismiss it as an "aberration". And if it endured for two years, it might pass as a mere "coincidence". But this is the third year of deer-hunting that sees me both underdressed and over-sweaty, (a sight my wife says few people should ever have to witness) and this newly added "rain" factor has got me wondering if there aren't greater forces at work than basic random weather patterns. Do I sound like too much of a Northern Minnesotan if I suggest that what we may have here, my friends, is a full-blown "conspiracy"?
Don't get me wrong, I won't go as far as blaming the lack of deer on this weather thing. There never were, as all we true outdoorsmen know, any actual deer out there in the first place. They are, like the legendary Phoenix, strictly mythical creatures that appear from the roadside grasses every seven years and hurl themselves destructively into the grillwork of our oncoming vehicles. As far as sitting in a stand in the swamp and waiting for a live creature to pass by so we can shoot it, the odds of that happening rank just slightly behind the possibility that a rotund man with a red suit is going to pop down my chimney in late December. But that's getting into another conspiracy theory about the state's DNR. Today we're only directing our paranoia at the weather.
This weather trend poses several hunting problems. The warmth of the past three deer seasons, for instance, has effectively eliminated any need I might have for the $17,500 worth of bright-orange, insulated clothing that occupy a large corner of my garage. Where else can a guy expect to wear that stuff if not during deer hunting? Despite the description, one doesn't look too "bright" wearing a blaze orange ensemble to church or a Vikings game. In fact, one looks kind of like a real mo-mo in that color anywhere but up a tree.
Unarmed with the standard "to keep my face warm during deer-hunting" excuse, I'm now forced to shave each morning. This may, at first, appear to be a minor issue since I'm expected to do it every other day of the year, but it is magnified in the face of a deer-hunting identity. In short, how else, with no orange in my wardrobe or deer blood on my hands, is John Q. Public supposed to recognize my status in the hunting world if I don't have stubble on my face. Arrrggghh! I fought so long for that grizzled reputation only to have it stripped away by a ruthless Tropical Depression.
But the rain is the final, killing blow. It's difficult to look macho in the face of warm air, it's downright impossible in the rain. From the glory days of suffering when a frostbitten finger and a frozen tendril of snot signified a masculine effort in the woods, we've followed an increasingly steep downward spiral. The warmth of the last two Novembers was a tough defense, achieved only through stubborn insistence that we actually were still suffering out there, just with less clothing. The rain, however, has lowered us to a level of pity. One can appear "defiant" in the face of extreme cold or "persistent" when faced with adverse seasonal heat, but one can only droop in a downpour. Our families now receive us at the end of a hunting day with the same condescending tone that they might lavish on a wet dog forgotten outside in a July thunderstorm. 'O you poor baby' or 'Come inside and dry off before you get sick' are lines that are setting the deer-hunting world back several decades. I was much happier with the old sarcastic standard 'you didn't get one today again, did ya?'
So if this is truly a conspiracy, who's to blame, and why? I'd like to point an accusing finger at the Canadian Ministry of Natural Resources, like I always do for any of my personal problems, but the weather is beyond even their control. Is there a greater power at work here? Is this less of a conspiracy and more of a 'Divine Nudge'? In an area of the world like ours, so addicted to deer hunting and so loyal to church (we boast the highest number of congregations per capita of any region in the state) are we missing an obvious message? The Israelites had Moses and a burning bush, maybe Too Tall Tom and a television are the updated version. With Sunday morning attendance so thin in early November, is it fair to assume the "Big Guy" is steering us indoors for at least one of the two deer-season services? Or maybe we're to consider opening the traditional 9 day hunt on a Friday and thereby avoid engulfing a second Sunday altogether? Given the potential for reasonable deer-hunting weather, I, for one, would make the effort to attend that single "hunting" service. Maybe even, coming from a pew rather than a tree stand, my prayers to have a deer walk by would be answered.