The Hunting Partner

Firetruck perched on his favorite spot, my shoulder.

Firetruck perched on his favorite spot, my shoulder.

I have a cat that loves to sleep on the seat cushions of porch chairs. On different days of the week, he can be found lounging on one of several porch chairs at any of the four houses in our small neighborhood. He’s not picky and, apparently, he enjoys a regular change of scenery. His name is Firetruck. He is an immensely personable little being. And I was only slightly surprised this morning when Firetruck joined me as I walked off into the woods under a full moon in search of a deer to fill my freezer.

I’ve never been hunting before. I did learn to shoot squirrel and soda cans at a young age, though I would advise against eating the soda cans. I am a fairly decent shot and the idea of hunting has always appealed to me….it’s just not something that I grew up around. Nevertheless, I had an inkling of an idea that having a black cat tag along was not the best idea I’ve ever had. But then again, it wasn’t exactly my idea.

I managed to get into position downwind of a few deer trails we have been monitoring. I dry-fired a few times, going over the advice my neighbor had given me the week before. He is somewhat of an expert, so I listened closely. Practice looking through the scope with both eyes open. Line up your shot. Aim for the opposite shoulder. Close your left eye at the last moment. Squeeze the trigger back. Do not close your open eye. Watch the animal drop, and know that it was a good death. I had practiced it all before, but now, as I sat waiting for the sun to rise, it was more than a little different….there was a cat involved.

I got into position with the rifle pulled tightly into my shoulder. Firetruck carefully climbed up my back onto my shoulder to sit. He was a parrot in a past life. As I began to line up the crosshairs on an imaginary target, my eyes came into contact with a different set of hairs. Firetruck swept his bushy, black tail straight across my eyes. Shit. He flicked his tail once and suddenly I had a big, bushy mustache draped across my upper lip. Damnit. I almost laughed out loud. Double damnit. I quietly barked at Firetruck to get his shit together because once I loaded the ammo, this couldn’t be happening. So he settled into my neck and started making biscuits in my neon orange sock hat. Better.

I finished up with my dry-firing and loaded the ammo into the rifle, put the safety on, and proceeded to wait. I tried to listen for sounds that would alert me to an approaching deer…yet all I could hear was a low purring sound in my right ear. Firetruck had moved up onto my right shoulder and if, at that very moment, I had happened to have another black, fuzzy cat on my opposite shoulder, I would’ve had a perfectly respectable set of ear muffs. I giggled. Shit. At this point, I figured I just had to sit still long enough for the sun to clear Midland Hill. This actually had very little to do with hunting deer and lots more to do with proving my husband wrong in his prediction…the one where he guaranteed that after half an hour sitting still in the cold, I would get bored and walk back to the house. Well guess what betches….I sat for an entire hour….because I had a cute little kitty cat to play with.

After sitting mostly quietly for one very long hour, Firetruck and I decided to go for a walk. He continued to sit on my shoulder like a parrot while I resisted the urge to walk under some strategically low branches. Then we saw it. We crouched down low and slowly approached…it was a very cool, very old trash can. Yes. I love junk. I have no idea how it got there and I was only slightly disconcerted that there were bullet holes in it, but I knew I had to have it. And even though a more reasonable person would have called off the hunt at this point in the story, I felt something pulling me along our southern boundary. We continued to walk….scratch that, I was the only one walking. I continued to walk, a little less quietly, with a water bottle and rifle slung over my shoulder, a bulky knife on my side, a parrot-cat peering over the top of my neon orange sock hat (still quietly purring), and an old trash can with suspicious bullet-holes in it. I only knew one thing for certain at this point: I was no longer scared of running into our resident mountain lion for the simple fact that I looked batshitinsane. I was also kindofsortofmaybe starting to question my ability to get close enough to a deer to shoot it.

I slowly and awkwardly traipsed through the forest along our southern property line, wondering if my particular approach to this whole hunting thing was going to be fruitful…and then I saw it. I immediately realized two things: 1. I was facing a very tough decision. 2. Someone has been dropping random, albeit very cool, items on my property. I came up to it and gently tapped it with my foot just to make sure it wasn’t some freaky portal thing. I still don’t know what it is, it’s best described as a sturdy wire form in the shape of a pyramid about 4′ tall. I quickly knew that I could not carry freaky portal pyramid and old trash can with suspicious bullet-holes. This is when I decided the hunt would be over for the morning because, clearly, it had already been wildly successful.

I made my way back towards the house with freaky portal pyramid thingy (which I just couldn’t resist). I stashed old trash can with suspicious bullet holes for a later pick up time or maybe some target practice with a cat on my shoulder. My mind was reeling with the possibilities for my new finds with the occasional thought of ‘how the hell am I going to explain this to my husband.’ But that second thought was pretty much cleared up when I walked up to the house with a big, stupid grin on my face and a freaky portal pyramid thingy in my arms. My husband just shook his head, most likely he was struck speechless by my sheer awesomeness. And now, as I sit here weighing my options, I figure I’ll go out and give this whole hunting-thing another shot. If all else fails, I have a standing offer to use my neighbor’s “Executive Blind” otherwise known as “their porch” which often overlooks a small group of sunning deer. Who knows, I might take them up on it. After all, my hunting partner has a thing for porch chairs…

The Hunting Partner surveys the fresh kill....shortly before trying to eat it.

The Hunting Partner surveys the fresh kill….shortly before trying to eat it.

UPDATE: Later that same evening, I was able to get close enough to a yearling doe to get a clean shot. And yes, Firetruck was right by my side….The. Entire. Time.

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