I’ve just gotten back from my first bowhunting trip.
In related news, I will now only be responding to the name Katniss.
No, actually, that is definitely not true. But I did go bowhunting for the first time ever. So of course, it must be story time.
This story starts last Friday, when Mum, Dad, and my compound bow and I got in a car and drove south for longer than I’ve ever wanted to.
Five hours after we set out, we arrived in southern Oregon, and we visited the couple whose property we were hunting on. We kicked around outside the house, waiting for our hosts. My dad noticed some oddly featured wooden heads poking out of the couple’s garden. Recognizing a chance to amuse himself, he called Sam, one of our travelling buddies who came in another vehicle, over to his side and asked, “What do you think about these?” Sam obliged my dad with a few lines about the possibility of the heads being full bodies buried very deeply.
Then he continued, “you know, cos we’re probably Orcs to them. We come with fire, we come with axes,” he slipped into a British accent, “Gnawing, biting, breaking, hacking, burning…”
My parents, though not really geeks, definitely know a geeky reference when they hear one. I grinned and gave dad a knowing look.
See, on the drive over, we had been discussing our travelling partners: Rod, my dad’s New Zealand hunting buddy, and Sam, my dad’s producer, and, as we found out not long after we met him, a Lord of the Rings fanboy.
(And no. I would not let that fact go to waste.)
Five hours in a car provides you with more than enough time to explore the strange inner workings of the human mind, so it’s perfectly normal that I gave dad some odd advice for our upcoming adventure. I told him I had a buzzword for him to say when Sam was around. “If you say this, he will love you forever. Well, he may already love you, but this will help.”
“Okay, okay,” Dad humored me. “What was it again?”
“Mash ‘em, boil ‘em, stick ‘em in a stew.”
“Mash ‘em, boil ‘em, stick ‘em in a stew,” he repeated.
“Yes! And it would be best if you could say this when potatoes are nearby or something. Taters. Call them taters, and then say your line.”
My dad’s a good guy.
His challenge accepted, I spent the rest of the trip trying to give dad meaningful looks whenever I thought he could say his line. Things got in the way pretty quick, though.
On this adventure, we stayed in a warm little house with no shortage of cozy blankets, DVDs, or Ritz crackers. My bed was right by the front door, and, to my delight, a convenient distance from the TV.
One thing you could not miss about the cabin was that it was incredibly charming, a word which here means, “lacking in indoor plumbing and had mousetraps littered around in a somewhat threatening manner.”
Okay, I thought to myself as I walked in. That’s fine. I’m adaptable.
When I first marked the startling lack of running water, I asked our guide where the restroom was and crossed my fingers that it was anything but a bush on the side of the house.
I was led to the backyard and directed to an outhouse.
Good, I thought. I thanked the guide and silently reminded myself how adaptable I was.
Just for the record, it’s easy to think that you’re adaptable until you lock yourself in a bathroom with a bat whom you have just awoken. We have to learn lessons somehow.
The next morning at 7:00, we set out on my hunt.
As we were stalking around in the forest with my bow, I figured it was a good time to pretend I was Katniss. This didn’t last very long, because judging by the way I stomped down the path in my massive hiking boots, I was a bit too Peeta-like. I briefly considered Legolas, but if that were the case, my hair would have turned out much better than it had that morning.
Actually, come to think of it, as far as my hair was concerned, Merida would have been a far better comparison.
But anyway, it was hard to concentrate on make-believe between the nervousness of my first bow hunt, the prayers for an animal to show up, and the constant mental singing from the song stuck in my head (Want to get it stuck in your head too?).
It was a very long hike. Thank goodness for my lungs, Rod stopped every five minutes to haul out his binoculars and stare with intensity at nothing in particular. Sam would trot up next to him and ask, “What do your Elf eyes see?” (The reference was lost on him, but it was still not wasted)
Eventually, those Elf eyes spotted a Corsican ram, standing thirty-two yards away. I thanked the Lord, drew my bow, and, by some miracle, we were cleaning out the animal thirty minutes later.
(I didn’t shoot the animal through the eye socket, though. Katniss still has much to teach me.)
When we got back, we told my mum the news in between desperate gasps for air ( thank you, half-hour, uphill hike), and then Rod fixed us a fabulous breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns.
My dad saw his chance. He grabbed his plate and sprang into action. “Mash ‘em…” he said. “Boil ‘em…”
Sam beamed. “Stick ‘em in a stew!”