The Deer Hunter

An interview with a Minnesota outdoorsman

Was it a successful hunt this year, Lewis?

Not really, no. It's getting tougher out there. Some of the deer seem to be on to us. They're gaining a sense of the cyclical nature of the hunts. They're developing a feel for the calendar. It was an awfully quiet November in my deer stand...till I got shot, anyway.

Accidentally?

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Oh, yeah, usual thing. Guy thought I was a deer.

It's amazing how often that happens. Yet people don't look anything like deer.

They do when somebody's been drinking. Alcohol affects the judgment centers of the brain. Sober, hunters know I'm no deer. But under the influence I could be a dolphin to some of these yahoos.

Do many hunters drink?

A good number, sure.

Why?

Boredom. You sit in a tree stand for hours, sometimes never so much as seeing a chipmunk. Booze helps convince you you're having a good time.

Is it a good time?

Depends on if you're a stickler for the rules or not. My pals and I are not. For example, Larry didn't get any deer this year. On the way home from Wisconsin he was all pouty and, after a while, rolled down the window and put some buckshot in a Holstein. We're not thieves, we paid the farmer for the damage, but it's still against the rules. And I don't like to wear blaze orange. Which some say is why I got shot in the first place. I hate that color. Makes me feel ridiculous. I like to dress like Daniel Boone, so I can feel "woodsy."

What do you do once you've shot a deer?

Follow the blood trail till I reach the carcass, then slice it throat to rectum, clean it out. I like to lop the head off and take it to the U of M for inspection. Most hunters don't, but I want to make sure it doesn't have chronic wasting disease. Last year Larry had a deer in his sights that was acting all weird. It had tremors, it was stumbling, salivating, had difficulty swallowing. He killed it, butchered it, and fed the venison to his family. That was a mistake. His wife's brain turned to Swiss cheese. The kids weren't affected, thank God.

Is his wife okay?

Oh yeah, if you didn't see the CAT scan you wouldn't know how messed up she is.

Do you ever fire a weapon when deer aren't around?

We all do. Once a gun is loaded it's got to be fired. It's like holding a skipper near a calm lake—you can't help yourself. When I shoot I like to pretend I'm in the military. I never was in the service, so it's kind of fun to imagine this isn't the woods of Wisconsin but rather the jungles of 'Nam. I'll see a crow and imagine it's VC. I either kill it or capture it alive and do the Russian roulette thing with it.

Are you a fisherman?

I've shot fish. I've been deer hunting near a lake and have noticed fish jump and have taken them out.

Are you a bow hunter?

I shot a bow hunter once. He wasn't wearing blaze orange either. I guess in some weird way that sort of evens things out.

Bow hunters aren't required to wear blaze orange, are they?

No, they get to look like Daniel Boone all day long, which probably made me jealous, I don't know. But I shot the guy.

Is he okay?

Depends. You mean compared to Larry's wife?

 
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