Over the weekend, I took the kids down to the Buck Fever Festival, which is held in south Arkansas each year to celebrate the opening of gun season. If someone had told me 10 years ago that I would one day be dressing my kids in camo and partying in the deer woods, I would have declared them certifiably insane and laughed my ass off.
The only camo I ever purchased in my single-girl days came in the form of a skirt, which I figured would make for a cute clubbing outfit.
One day, I wore that skirt to work (yeah, I know, but women in their 20s have questionable fashion sense) and it immediately caught Hubs’ eye. At that time, we didn’t know one another, other than exchanging random hellos in the newsroom.
Anyway, Hubs saw that skirt and thought he’d finally found himself a gal who liked to hunt.
We started dating in September 2000, and when Buck Fever rolled around, Hubs invited me down to Banks, Ark., where his family has lived for generations.
“So you’re the latest girlfriend,” Hubs’ dad said with a laugh.
I determined right then that I would somehow distinguish myself from the other women who’d been dragged down to the deer camp.
And that night, as we sat around a campfire drinking bourbon and Coke, a moment of brilliance struck.
“I’d love to go hunting tomorrow evening with you,” I purred, sidling up to an elated Hubs.
So the next day, Hubs decked me out in hunting garb. All you could see of me were my eyes — which shimmered delightfully thanks to three shades of sparkling, autumnal eyeshadow — and my hands, which boasted 10 fingers tipped with shiny, burgundy nails.
When we got to to Hubs’ favorite spot, I trotted dutifully after him, prepared to prove myself as a sporting sort of girlfriend.
“OK,” he whispered. “Sit here and DO NOT MOVE.”
I plopped down into a position that I figured I would able to hold for the 30 or so minutes I estimated it would take Hubs to get a deer.
An hour passed.
And then another.
By this time, I desperately had to pee, but I knew that Hubs would frown upon A.) moving around and B.) leaving my scent behind after a drop-and-squat. He’d already made me shower with some sort of descenting soap. I figured peeing in an area where deer roam probably wouldn’t go over too well.
Please, oh, please just let him kill a deer, I prayed.
Bear in mind, I really had no idea to see a buck die. But in my haste to prove myself as The New and Improved Girlfriend, I’d neglected to ponder the fact that I would have to witness death in the woods.
Finally, just as my potty situation was becoming truly dire, Hubs silently and speedily pointed his gun.
“Yay!!!” I cheered, hugging him. “Now we can find a potty!”
But when Hubs tried to drag his buck out of the woods, it became clear he would need help. This was one big deer.
Crossing my legs, I mulled over my choices.
I could lag behind, maybe cop a squat when Hubs wasn’t looking. Or I could help him haul that damn deer out to the truck.
Believe me people, when I say that only a bathroom emergency would enable me to touch a dead animal.
After we heaved the buck into the truck, I ordered Hubs to take me to Grandma Hattie’s house, where a wall-papered, old-lady bathroom awaited.
And thus, my introduction and initiation to deer hunting was complete.
I married Hubs the following spring and I have never set foot near a deer stand again.
Instead, I take the kids to the Buck Fever parade, the Buck Fever catfish lunch, the Buck Fever Talent Show and the Buck Fever Beauty Pageant.
I find these activities both fun and totally surreal. And when I hear the occasional boom of gunfire, I thank my lucky stars that I got that ring on my finger before my second hunting season with Hubs.
And these days, my camo isn’t deer-woods friendly. It’s pink. And meant for sleeping.
The mighty deer hunter
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