Starting from square one
By JEFF LUND
November 25, 2013
I told them if they have dreams of going to college, but as a sophomore they are carrying a 2.4 grade point average, college might end up being just that, a dream. Unless, of course, they consider the future, engage and get to work.
I take my own medicine too.
Before I moved back, my lifetime blacktail resume was exactly one deer long. It was once upon a hot August afternoon in the alpine of an almost snowless peak. After smoking the first shot from 250 yards, I put one on the 2x3 with a borrowed .270. The buck then hopped over the ridge on its three good legs and settled onto a ledge halfway down a steep incline I’d barely be able to navigate myself let alone with a dead animal. This second shot had to be true, or it would roll, and roll, and roll, and roll. Thankfully I dropped it and proceeded to slide down the steep slope to gut it. I had help, but she was 18-years old and had never gutted a deer either, though she loved to hunt and had already killed twice as many deer that day as I had in my life. Her dad waited on the ridge and gave his surgically repaired hips a break while we dragged the animal up the incline. Upon inspection, he complimented me on removing everything well, except the heart, a lung, and the urine bag. Thankfully nothing was being pumped or leaking at that point.
So that’s where I am. That’s my honest baseline. I’m a dude who owns a rifle and a hunting license more than I’m a hunter. I can catch big rainbow trout on dry flies I tied myself, coax a brown trout out of a cutbank or limit out on silvers with a spinning rod before lunch but when it comes to hunting, I one day aspire to be a neophyte.
In advance of my first hunting trip as an Alaska driver’s license-bearing almost resident, my buddy Abe and I went out to sight in my .270 which I have had for half a decade, but never aimed at a deer because I never saw any during the two seasons I bought a license in California.
After 200 clicks the scope hadn’t responded to my request to hit the middle part of the paper target and could no longer click to the right. I asked around the next day. Probably a broken spring. In the meantime I’d need a replacement, so I went to the local supplier of hunting toys and talked to a high school senior about scopes. I inquired about a model with a price on target with my level of employment as a substitute teacher.
“I haven’t used this brand,” he admitted.
“You could tell me whatever you wanted, as long as you do it in a convincing way I’ll believe anything you tell me.”
He sort of laughed, either wary of permission to mislead, or confused by my honesty.
I picked out a scope then he took my rifle in back to mount and bore sight it. I returned home and felt dangerous, excited and maybe even a little confident. It’s part of the process, part of my reintroduction to life in the 49th state. I figure if my learning curve stays on its modest trajectory by the time the zombie apocalypse rolls around, I might be a good enough shot survive the first day or two.
In the meantime I’m going to have to be willing to work through the honest incompetence of a beginner.
But if I do fail, I can always go get a burger and wait until the next weekend.
Jeff Lund ©2013
Jeff Lund is a Teacher and Freelance Writer living in Klawock, Alaska