In the wee hours of that night, we woke to the lights on and some ramblings coming from Tommy. We have to understand that Tommy had a hard time in Vietnam, but very well decorated. Making the best of life as left to him, medications sometimes took their toll in dealing with simple necessities. Anyway, there was Tommy all duded up in his Kenny Roberts best ready for a night on the town! It took Butch a good while to convince him that it was time to stay in bed. The next day we watched as Tommy headed off by himself – the guys knowing was only going about earshot away at most. Nonetheless, we were cautious to keep tabs on him. He would not be left out, and his good friends would not leave him out of a good time up-country. I came back about midday from my fun but fruitless efforts to find Mike coming back with Tommy from his “spot”. Mike had found him sleeping like a baby against a tree. When aroused, he’d only give his name, rank & serial number, and being startled, reached for his bow as if it were a gun. Fumbling in confusion, he proceeded to roll down the hill into a bee’s nest. Mike had a hasty chore ahead to extricate Tommy from the whole scene. Poor Tommy finally realized just where he was and that he was with friends. Needless to say, Tommy did not gun-hunt anymore!
Another outing with Butch took us on different paths to the “orchard” – a place of frequent deer congregations. This day was fruitless, but amusing. I had made my way up through some tough cover to the edge of the orchard and squatted in the bush at the edge to wait for Butch. After a good while, I heard a crashing through the woods on the other side of the clearing. Readying my bow, I thought for sure Butch had pushed a nice fatty my way. Everything was wet from the night before, and instead came Butch, soaked to the gills with a “rassin’ flassin’ freakin’ floos-a-buggerin’ sonoffabee…” blasting from his hairy gob. I came out to meet him and he just stood there with a twisted look on his face and said, “How’d you stay dry through all that?” I just said, “I didn’t touch anything”. That may have been a little less than tactful, as a pronounced growl came from somewhere in his girth.
Back at camp one afternoon, Giff was cooking up boar sausage and thick bacon slabs from one of his other hunts. Mighty good! Some eggs, chunks of bread and beer to wash it down were hearty fare after trolling on foot all day. We all decided to head down to the local bar/restaurant for the evening meal & festivities. This place had character – and characters! A shanty bar with funky old memorabilia, a couple of pool and ping-pong tables, and a limited but tasty menu set the scene. Many drinks and full belly later, Giff and I found ourselves playing ping-pong with a few girls who had abandoned their drunken boyfriends & spousal units – passed out after that day’s football game. Giff was pretty lit and eyeing one of the girls with a silly grin. I was pretty lit and having a nice conversation with another. Next thing you know, it’s my turn at ping-pong with the girl Giff was entertaining. Now, this girl was playing hard and not getting the best of me. I was just volleying for fun and I made the mistake of saying so. She got pretty riled and said, “don’t do me any favors!” Fine, I’m pretty good at ping-pong and proceeded to decimate her. Later Giff says, “You should have let her win. Now she won’t talk to me”. I reminded him we were both married and there’s no way they were going to leave that bar with us anyhoo. He chuckled and we both agreed we were done for the night.
On a solo expedition, I started off for the orchard early one morning. Sure enough, a big buck and a big doe were standing there browsing. With no shot, I tried to figure the wind and made a play for a closer shot. Bagged, they took off at full sprint down an amazingly steep hill. I pulled a judo arrow for a “what if” shot at where they had been standing. Boink! Right in the sweet spot. Should have taken it even though it was a long one. I looked at where they dashed off to and decided they were only going as far as the stream at the bottom of the hollow. I flanked around nice and wide for a chance at catching them again. The soft ground and pine bed along the stream allowed for quiet, fast movement. I found some huge moose tracks and got distracted by them. All of a sudden, snort – whoosh! The two deer I’d been tracking were just on the other side of a couple of big old pines that obscured my view. As you can tell, I’m not a great hunter and have no patience to hang in a tree. But I sure love to be out there stalking and savoring those fleeting moments of “Am I lost yet?”
One day we all headed out for a “Team Grizzly” push. There were two favorite spots, one called the “5 minute piece” and the other called the “20 minute piece”. The 5-minute piece was a logging road that went up a hill to a pasture at the top. Four of us lined the road, while Mike and Giff drove further down to jump in for the actual pushing. This was a first for me. I had the station second up from Tony at the bottom, then Joey, with Rick at the top. In a blaze of gray fur, three deer came screaming out of the woods between Rick & Joey up the hill.