While other hunters struggle with buck fever, this genius finds a simple solution.
"Where were you when I called your house earlier to tell you to meet me here at Gert's for lunch?" my buddy Bear Breath asked when I sat down next to him at the table.
"I was watching an episode of Bowhunter Magazine TV I had recorded," I said. "I didn't answer the telephone because I figured it was you calling, and every time you call me it winds up costing me money."
"You've already worn out two VCR's watching every hunting show ever made," Bear Breath said. "Give it up, Mag. The only thing that'll ever make you half as good a bowhunter as those guys is if somebody invents a bow that shoots six arrows at the same time in a two-foot circle."
"You might be on to something with that six-shot bow, Bear Breath," I said. "If it wasn't for shooting high and low and left and right, I'd have a whole trophy room full of animals. That's why I was watching that television show over and over. I was trying to figure out how these TV bowhunters stay so calm whenever they shoot at an animal.
There's got to be a secret to staying cool under all that pressure."
"I was jerking your chain when I made that remark," Bear Breath said. "Even a bow that shoots six arrows at once wouldn't help you. You shake so bad whenever you shoot at a critter you'd shake five of those arrows off their arrow rests and miss with the last one anyway."
"The bowhunter in that episode was a magazine editor who shot several big whitetail bucks and never got buck fever one time," I said. "What I can't figure out is how a guy who spends 90 percent of his life behind a desk can keep from shaking with big bucks so close. How do you think he pulls that off?"
"How would I know?" Bear Breath asked. "All I know is that watching a bunch of expert hunters shoot critters on television will never keep you from going goofy whenever you shoot at an animal.
"Those guys ain't like you and me. They spend tons of money to hunt where they get chances at trophy animals all the time. If we're lucky, we get a shot at a trophy animal about once every five years. If we could hunt trophy animals as much as they do, we'd stay a lot calmer too.
"Besides, those guys have cameramen right behind them recording their every move for television. They know they have to look cool and collected."
"Maybe that's the secret," I said. "We'd probably stay a lot calmer if we were on camera for all the world to see. We should try that."
"We already did," Bear Breath said. "Don't you remember a couple of years ago when you borrowed that video camera from your sister-in-law's husband? I said we should flip a coin to see who got the first shot at a deer and who would run the camera. You said,
'Since I supplied the camera, I get first shot.'
"So I put my treestand above yours in that black oak tree out on Old Man Turner's farm and spent every afternoon for 10 days watching you sleep in your stand while I taped squirrels, birds, and does.
"Then, when a decent 8-pointer came strolling up to feed on the acorns under the tree, I had to kick you in the head a couple of times to get you awake. When you finally woke up you yelled, 'Quit kicking me in the head, you dimwit! If you have to relieve yourself, just climb down and go. I don't need to know about it!'
"When I told you what happened you said, 'Just tap me on the shoulder when a buck shows up. You don't have to kick me in the head.'
"When a 7-pointer showed up later, I tapped you with my foot because you were cleaning your fingernails with your hunting knife. When you finally saw the buck, I nodded and you drew your bow. That was when I realized it was going to be impossible to video you shooting this buck because you were shaking so much. I didn't want to spook the buck, so I tapped you on top of the head with my foot to get your attention so I could whisper to shoot the buck in the middle of one of your shakes.
"When we watched the tape later I realized I had continued moving the camera in time with your shaking because the tape actually looked like you had two bucks under you and you couldn't decide which one to shoot.
"It didn't really matter though, because when I tapped you on the head, you thought I wanted you to stand for the shot. Naturally, when you stood you forgot you had put your hunting knife on your lap, and when it started bouncing down through all those oak limbs that buck was long gone.
"So then I said, 'Now it's my turn to shoot and your turn to video,'" Bear Breath continued. "But you said, 'Technically I didn't shoot at that buck, so I still get to shoot and you have to run the camera. Erase the footage you just shot so we don't run out of tape on my next attempt.'
"If you would have held up your end of the bargain and let me hunt while you ran the camera, I wouldn't have had to put that tape in my safe deposit box at the bank to use as insurance in case you ever decide to stop paying for my lunch here at Gert's Gas and Grub. Here's my check for lunch. Take care of it and don't forget the tip."
"I don't suppose I could talk you into trying to video me this coming deer season, could I?" I asked. "I was at Wal-Mart the other day and saw a video camera that has a built-in anti-shake feature. Those TV bowhunters must have those kinds of cameras."
"If you strapped 10 of those cameras to your body, that might stop you from shaking," Bear Breath said. "Then you wouldn't need me there because at least one of those cameras would always be pointing where you shot. Sounds like a plan to me, Mag. I think you should go for it. Send me a copy of the video. I can't wait to see it.
"One other thing before I leave, Mag. Since you didn't answer the telephone when I called, how did you know I was here at Gert's?"
"I didn't know you were here and I hoped you weren't," I said. "I came here because I had to get out of the house before things got any worse between me and Three
"What did you do this time to ruffle Three's feathers?" Bear Breath asked.
"I didn't do anything," I said. "Three started it. She asked me when I was going to be finished watching my dumb hunting show. She said I'd better be done by noon because her favorite cooking show was coming on then and she wasn't about to miss it. Then I said, 'It doesn't make any sense for you to watch a cooking show, Three. You'll always be a terrible cook.'
"Three gave me the look that means she's about to bust my chops and said, 'You're watching a bowhunting show, aren't you?'"