Tag Archives: trucks

WHEN THE SNOW FLIES

My last-minute run to the woods to fill my tag with a big buck was not thought out particularly well. I dressed warm, threw my pack, blaze-orange hoodie, hunting vest and shotgun into the idling truck. The tank read half. The windshield was frost-free. In spite of a couple good snow storms in the last week, the roads were generally clear and the three-speed straight-six did its best against a ridiculous W/NW gale.

Now, of trucks and deer hunting, there are a couple well-known rules that should be noted once the snow flies:
1. Make sure you’ve got weight in the bed of your truck. As long as I can remember my dad having a truck this has been a seasonal ritual. Putting sandbags in the back. It’s the one thing that separates you from all the yahoos whose trucks are buried in drifts, ditches or the rear-end of some unsuspecting Prius. Unless that one thing is beer, in which case sandbags won’t make them a dang bit of difference.
2. When a front is moving in and the wind and snow go horizontal, it’s best to grab a beer and watch the game. For all intents and purposes, that’s what the deer are doing.

Of course when it comes to rules, well-known doesn’t mean always-followed. Take my present situation for example.

My lack of forethought pertaining to rule #1 struck me as I pulled a u-turn to park the truck on the side of the road where we walk into our woods from: I’ve got zero weight in the bed of the truck. I pulled onto the shoulder, getting as close as possible to its edge without sliding over, in order to allow enough room for the fly-wing of the County’s plow truck to leave my mirror attached.

If I get stuck, I told myself, standing in the squall, I’ll cross that bridge when I’m done hunting– effectively dismissing rule #2 as well. This is how the male hunting-mind works. It’s a complex and inexplicable animal.

I suited up, locked the truck and started the 1/4-mile hike across a wide-open field to the woods.

Once in the woods, I spotted a half-dozen new rubs, but no fresh tracks. I was confident that this would be my afternoon. I settled into the stand, hung my gun on its hook and lit my pipe. The wind blew snow in whirls and clouds through the hardwoods around me. I was warm enough from the hike in to leave my gloves in my pocket for a while. Life was good.

Twenty minutes passed. No longer warm from the hike in, I put my pipe away and fished my gloves from my pocket. To my right, a big doe walked out from behind a thicket of trees, picking her way toward me. A doe was not on the docket for today’s hunt, but I grabbed my gun from its hook in case my buck was sniffing around.

She stood facing my direction at 40 yards. If I moved, she’d bust me and the jig would be up. I sat like a rock. Every direction she looked or turned her ears toward, I followed with my eyes. Five minutes later, she lied down right where she was standing. No buck. Just a bed comfortable enough to ride out the storm, complete with a view of a blaze orange testament to what happens when you don’t follow the rules. Shit.

So there I sat. Wind and snow. Dropping temps. More wind and snow. Nose running like a track-star. After two hours, she continued to lie there chewing her cud, body almost snowed-over. Snowed-over as well, and right about the time I started talking to the squirrels in neighboring trees, I decided I needed to stand up. Success. Daylight gave out twenty minutes later and she busted me climbing down out of the tree. I could sort of feel my fingers and toes again as I traipsed out of the woods to the field, a fading gray and drifting tundra.

In the end, the truck didn’t get stuck. That’s not to say I didn’t come uncomfortably close, mind you. I pulled slowly from the shoulder to the road. Fishtails dictated that 35 mph was all the truck would allow. Slow and steady. Which was fine by me. I had nothing to prove that I suppose hadn’t already. Besides, the game wasn’t starting for another hour and twenty minutes…and the beer wasn’t going anywhere either.

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Filed under In the woods

1985

I was in 8th grade.
Live Aid and We are the World.
Reagan was sworn in for a second term.
The first WrestleMania went top-rope at the Garden.
Somewhere in Canada, a brand-new, black Ford F-150 Stepside rolled off the production line.

Some twenty-five years later, the new version of We are the World failed miserably, the Cold War is now hot-as-Afghanistan, WrestleMania is bigger than all of us, and that pickup found its way South to my driveway in Upstate NY.

It’s been a while since I last owned a truck. Incomplete doesn’t quite describe how I’ve felt all these years. Borrowing my dad’s is OK, and I’m grateful for his generosity, but the logistics tend to be a pain in the ass. Drive my car over to their place, get the truck, use the truck, clean the truck if I make a mess of it, put gas in the truck if I drove it any distance, take the truck back and drive my car home. And the projects I undertake – whether landscaping, hauling trash, hunting or fishing – always finish up at times when I’d much rather park the truck, then park my butt, have a beer and relax.

Having a truck again simplifies things. Having an old truck (oh yea, 25 years old puts it in the antique category…crap) with an indestructible straight-six engine allows me the ability to get my hands dirty instead of making appointments and paying someone else to change the oil, plugs, wires and all that good routine maintenance stuff. I can tweak, tune, repair, replace and generally mess with it till my heart’s content.

I can fill the bed with topsoil, mulch, firewood, plants or powertools. The kid’s bikes and sports gear…hell the kids themselves (for short rides anyhow).

I can throw a kayak or canoe in the back, tackle boxes, poles, coolers, waders, boots, tree stands, ground blinds, decoys and whatever I pull out of the water, carry from the field or drag out of the woods.

No roof rack. I’ve got bungee cords and tie-down straps.
Forget camp chairs. I’ve got a tailgate.

I can put a sticker in the back window of Calvin peeing on a Chevy or Dodge logo (don’t hold your breath for that one), or for Ducks Unlimited, Air Assault, Canandaigua Lacrosse and a list of other gear companies I hunt, fish and camp with. How about this one: My kids can out fish your honor student.

A truck is a new perspective: accomplish more by slowing down. It’s not the destination anymore. I’m enjoying the hell out of the drive there. Much like my decision to spend more time this year hunting, fishing, enjoying down-time with the kids and simply paying more attention. I know there’ll be a time when my kids won’t sit up on the bench seat next to me anymore and go for a ride, as cool as the day is long. These moments are not sitting around waiting for me, that’s for sure. So, until then, we’re going to put that new antique through its paces and get back to slowing down.

25 years has gone entirely too fast.
Thank God for trucks.

The new antique

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Filed under Fatherhood and venison jerkey, In the woods, On the water