Thursday, October 22, 2009

The SEC and I go hunting

About 6 or 7 years ago, I decided to go out on Opening Day of deer season. At the last minute, I decided to take the little guy with me.

Although there is a law against using dogs to hunt deer in PA, there is no law I knew of against taking a cat with me. I got everything together the night before, of course, and in the morning I grabbed some cat food and fished a couple of tuna cans out of the trash and washed and dried them.

Every year I go out and I spot at least a couple of legal deer, yet I haven’t shot one in years. I’m the laughingstock of the Sportsman’s club I belong to when it comes to deer hunting.

Truth is, I’m too damned lazy to shoot one.

At one meeting, I boasted about actually taking ammunition with me ‘in case one of them tries to trample me’. The guys chuckled. “Hey, it’s dangerous out there,” I said in a pouty-like defensive voice. “A guy could get killed.” More laughter.
Opening day is a special time for me that has little if anything to do with shooting an animal. It’s simply a day when I take a rifle for a long walk in the woods. The rifle stays in the safe all year and I guess it’s entitled to getting out and being taken for a walk every so often.

I harnessed up Tokie and we hopped into the pickup. I improvised a litter box on the floor by putting some kitty litter in an empty beer case. It’s a trek to the happy hunting grounds and I generally stop for breakfast along the way. There’s this little place that makes a pretty good breakfast.

Of course, I had forgotten that I wouldn’t be able to go in with Tokie. Then again, I figured it might be worth a try. We pulled into the lot and moseyed on in. There were a bunch of hunters wolfing down all the stuff that their wives raise hell with them for eating.

“Hunting cat?” one of the hunters grinned.

“You got it,” I said. “He’s got better sense than I do.” Most of the guys there chuckled.

“You can’t bring an animal in here,” said the owner.

“Any off you guys object to the little guy sitting under my chair while I grab something?” I asked aloud. Most of the guys shook their heads to indicate that they had no problem. Nobody voiced any objections.

“Nah, cats are pretty clean animals,” said one guy.

“Sit in the corner bench and keep him out of sight,” said the owner, looking around like some Mafioso making a drug deal.

I was genuinely surprised. I was pretty sure someone would object until I thought that most of these guys probably have animals at home themselves. Most of their hunting dogs probably sit next to them during dinner.

I fished the tuna cans out of my pocket and put water in one and some food in the other and slid them under the bench. Then I ordered breakfast, and an extra piece of ham. Tokie ate and jumped up alongside me on the bench, but on the inboard side where he wasn’t too obvious.

He curled up and took a quick little nap. Then my breakfast arrived and I cut a piece of ham up, fished up the tuna cans and set them up quietly on the bench. I really had to do this to keep him from hopping up on the table and getting both of us tossed out.

Tokie ate some of the ham and behaved himself. That’s pretty unusual behavior for a cat.

I ate, paid the bill and stuffed Tokie under my coat and sneaked him out because a couple of other people had come in while I was eating. No telling if any of them would start something. I

agree that animals probably do not belong where food is being served to the public, and I can see where someone would gripe. I don’t mind this too much.

The thing that pisses me off to no end is the cruel, gutless bastard that really doesn’t mind a situation at all, but simply starts something because he can. This truly frosts my ass. Had anyone voiced an objection, I’d have taken the little guy out and ordered a ‘to-go’ order with no problem.

The ones I’d like to smack are the ones that publicly go along with something than quietly complain to the management. If you have a problem with something, say so. Don’t backstab me.

Anyway, we got to the State Game Lands, and geared up and started off on a long walk down the open swatch by the power lines. I moved slowly because Tokie was being a cat and taking his own sweet time, sniffing everything and exploring the Great Outdoors.

A hawk floated above us lazily, and Tokie made a beeline for a thicket and got under cover. Like most cats, he’s pretty instinctive.

From time to time, we would hear a shot, sometimes two and I knew someone somewhere had harvested venison.

It was around mid morning when the little guy stuck his nose up and headed into the trees. About five yards into the woods, I saw what he was looking for, a gut pile. He sniffed and licked, but I wouldn’t let him eat. I snagged him up and took him away. About 100 yards away, I took out the tuna cans and fed him again.

Another hunter passed and looked and grinned. “Hunting cat?” he asked with a grin. “Highly trained,” I answered with a grin. “Two firsts,” he said. “First time I’ve seen a cat on a leash and first hunting cat I’ve ever seen.” He chuckled a bit.

The look on his face told me he wasn’t fooled. He reached down and gave Tokie a friendly little pet and continued his hunt. We went back out into the power line area and moseyed around until lunch and then retreated into the tree line after air support prepped it.

I got out the tuna cans and my lunch, and Tokie being Tokie gave me his look so I peeled off a piece of roast beef and put it on top of his cat food. He ate it in seconds. Then I reached into my pack for my bayonet, fixed it, jammed the rifle bayonet first into the ground and pulled out a ‘do not disturb’ sign and looped the string through the trigger guard.

Next, I tied Tokie’s leash to my wrist, placed my back against a tree and dozed off for a while. I woke up about an hour and a half later feeling a claw in my thigh. I woke and saw the little guy looking up at something. It was a pretty good-sized buck.

This happens to me quite often on opening day. I take a nap and when I wake up, I see deer. It’s goofy, but it happens more often than not.

Tokie gave a loud ‘Meow’ and I’ll be damned if the deer didn’t mosey on off somewhere. Seeing we were more that 20 feet from the truck, I really didn’t care. I loosened the leash and gave him a lot of slack while I refilled the tuna cans with food and water and watched him go off and dig a hole and poop and quickly refill it. Then I watched him eat.

We started back slowly toward the truck and the little guy caught a whiff of something, so we wandered in that direction. Another gut pile.

I scooped him up and carried him part way back to the truck. We arrived at the ‘parking area’ and there was a Game Warden. He was checking tags. He saw the pair of us and the look he gave us was priceless.

I cased my rifle and put my stuff in the back of the pickup. “You didn’t unload your rifle,” said the Game Warden. “I never loaded it,” I replied. “Please check it anyway,” he said. I opened the back of the shell and picked up my rifle, uncased it and held it up for him. “

The bolt’s out of it,” he said. “And there’s a bayonet in the case. What’s with the bayonet?”
“Bolt’s in my pack. Never put it in,” I replied. “Bayonet is so I can stick it in the mud and use the rifle to hang a ‘do not disturb’ sign when I take a nap. Ain’t nothing worse that being in dreamland and having someone shake you up and ask you if you’re all right.”

He laughed outright. Then he reached down and gave Tokie a little pet.

“I’ve seen hundreds of hunting dogs, and if he was a dog, I’d be carting you off,” he said. “Never seen a hunting cat,” Said the Game Warden.

I opened the pickup, Tokie got in, I followed and we drove home after another adventure together.

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