Shoots and Ladders

Shoots and Ladders

Trying to elevate your bowhunting game could be your biggest downfall.




Illustration by John "Lefty" Wilson


Trying to elevate your bowhunting game could be your biggest downfall.


"What are you doing here?" my wife, Three, asked when I walked into the kitchen.

"I live here whenever I'm not bowhunting or at the archery range," I said. "No matter what the neighbors say or how many petitions they get, I'm not moving. I like it here. It's only six miles from the archery range."

"I just thought you'd be over at The Yup's to stop him from killing himself," Three said.

"Like always, I don't understand what you're saying, Three," I said. "The Yup ain't going to kill himself. He just bought a new bow. Maybe you better start over and give me the necessary details."

"Did you, or did you not, get a call on your cell phone 20 minutes ago from a woman named Priscilla?" Three asked.

"Yeah, I did," I said. "I couldn't hear her very well. I thought she was a telemarketer trying to sell me some replacement windows, so I hung up."

"That was The Yup's wife," Three said. "Prissy called here looking for you, and I gave her your cell number. She said she needed your help because The Yup was on another ladder and she was afraid he was going to kill himself."

"Why didn't you tell me that in the first place?" I said. "The Yup doesn't get along with ladders. If I hurry, maybe I can get there before he does kill himself."

TWENTY MINUTES LATER I pulled up in front of The Yup's house, jumped out of my truck, and ran around the house. What I found was The Yup standing on a long board supported by two eight-foot stepladders in the middle of his backyard. The ladders were straddling his kids' trampoline. He had already shot several arrows into the ground. When The Yup saw me, he waved and motioned for me to stay where I was. Since I knew The Yup's history with ladders, I looked for some cover.

The Yup drew his bow and shot an arrow into the ground about 15 yards away. Then he put his bow down on the board and jumped from his perch onto the trampoline and then walked over to where I was hiding behind a gas grill.

"What are you doing here, Mag?" The Yup asked. "I didn't mean to be rude, but I've got moles tearing up my backyard and I'm trying to get them with my new bow. If you had walked out into the yard, they would feel the vibrations and quit burrowing. Man, I almost nailed one of them with that last shot."

"Prissy called me and said you were fooling around with ladders, and she was worried about you," I said. "In case you forgot your history with ladders, let me refresh your memory."

WITH THAT, I GAVE The Yup a quick summary. It started the month before when he bought an extension ladder to climb onto his roof to practice shooting his bow from a treestand position. I told him if he did it, his neighbors would start putting up BEWARE OF THE NEIGHBOR signs like mine did.

Of course, he told Prissy he bought the ladder so he could cut a tree limb that was banging on the roof. So he climbed up there with a rented chainsaw. Since this was the first time he had used a chainsaw, he didn't realize it would buzz through that limb and right on into the shingles. To keep from cutting completely through the roof, he just let go of it. The saw rolled down and knocked the ladder off the gutter. The ladder then fell through the bay window and wound up on what was left of a glass-top table.

Ladder disaster number two started when The Yup saw a guy on television fishing for bonefish from an elevated platform on a boat. He figured that would work for carp, so he persuaded Owlface to let him mount an eight-foot folding ladder in his boat when they went bowfishing at Grant Lake. He had it tied on both sides of the middle seat, but he didn't realize how unstable it would be when he climbed up on it. If he had stayed sitting to shoot, the boat wouldn't have turned over. Luckily they were in shallow water, or Owlface wouldn't have seen The Yup's feet sticking out of the water and pulled him out of the mud before he drowned.

Even after all that, The Yup untied the ladder from the boat and set it up on the bottom of the lake and then climbed up to spot rolling carp. Owlface righted his boat and rowed to the shore, and while he was getting all the moss and muck out of his boat, a man and his son came down to the lake to fish. When the boy spotted The Yup, he asked, "Dad, what's that man doing out in the lake on a stepladder?"

"I have no idea," the man said.

"Mister, do you know what that man is doing?" the boy asked Owlface.

"Son, I never saw that man before in my life, but you might want to stay away from him. He obviously ain't got all his oars in the water," Owlface said.

"SO NATURALLY, YUP, you can see why I rushed right over here when Prissy said you were messing around with ladders again," I said. "It looks to me like you've got everything under control this time though. You even took the time to provide yourself with a safety cushion in case you fall off that board. Guess I'll head home. Good luck with your mole hunt."

"Thanks for checking up on me, Mag," The Yup said. "I'm going to have to put my mole hunt on hold. My next door neighbor was in his backyard a little while ago giving me weird looks like he always does whenever I'm shooting my bow. His wife told Prissy that her husband had said if I spent as much time taking care of my lawn as I do playing with bows and arrows my yard might look almost as nice as his. So now I have to spread fertilizer to keep him and Prissy off my back."

"Don't worry about him," I said. "I'll take care of him on my way out.

A few minutes later I rang The Yup's neighbor's doorbell. When he answered, I said, "Good afternoon, Sir. I'm from The Acme Lawn Service. I was wondering if you might be interested in hiring us to help you make your lawn look a lot better than it does now."

"I don't need any help," The Yup's neighbor said. "Horticulture happens to be my only hobby. I've worked hundreds of hours on my lawn and would never pay anyone to work on it. You better go next door and talk to my neighbor. He'd rather play with bows and arrows than make his property look as good as it should in this upscale neighborhood."

"Oh, I already talked to him," I said. "He doesn't need our

help. He's found a really inexpensive way to aerate his lawn. You might talk to him about doing yours if you can't afford Acme. Your lawn obviously needs more help than his does."

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