The lady across the street saw me standing in my driveway with a shotgun in my hand, camo from head to toe, and a full face mask. Now, anybody else would know it is turkey season, hence my choice in clothing and accessories, but not this lady, no, she doesn't know about things like that. I could tell by the look on her face that she was concerned as to what was going on.
Now this is the same woman that thought I had been using her water one month when her bill was more than normal, and then asks me to crawl under her house to check for a leak after I assure her that I hadn't been. After taking one look under her spider-infested crawlspace, I wish I'd told her yea, that I'd been running a hose across the road at night and watering my marijuana patch that she probably thinks I have growing on the creek.
I should've waved and lifted the net off my face just to let her know it was me and not some ISIS combatant about to put the drop on her, but I don't think. I just slipped into the woods as casually as I could, or like the ninja she thought I was. As I eased on, I could hear her talking on the phone, probably to her son, who would've been more afraid than she was.
I sat down under the big hemlock, close to where I saw turkeys feeding up the hillside the day before. The same hemlock that my wife sent me to to trim a few branches from for the Christmas wreath she was making. I remember that I was in my slippers and pajamas that cold December morning.
Easing my shotgun into position, I noticed a yellow rubber ball in the grapevines and running cedar below where I sat. My son punted it down in the woods years ago, and there it sits. It was about this time that I heard the girls squealing and laughing back up the hill at the house, on their swing set. I'm starting to feel like an idiot, hunting just yards away from where my dog takes a dump in the back yard. Some woodsman I am.
Speaking of taking a dump, my stomach started cramping, and I knew it wouldn't be long. I found myself thinking, Now should I just go in the house and use the bathroom, or be a real man and grab hold of two saplings and rare back, and clean myself up with leaves? If I do go in, do I take my mask off, or leave it on? And, what about my shotgun? If I leave it in the woods, will some rouge come by and steal it while I'm gone, or perhaps hold me at gunpoint with it and rob me?
I'm so close to the house that my wife doesn't have to open the door and yell, Supper's Ready! She can say it in a normal voice from the table and I can hear her from where I am sitting. Not exactly the back-of-beyond experience one would be looking for, but I was hunting.
As suburban as this setting seems, and as idiotic as I might be trying not to squawk the box call so loud as to stir the dogs up, I felt proud just to be sitting in the woods. Proud to be outside, just trying to interact with nature again. You know how it is.
You know how it is when you're depressed, and it robs you of everything you once enjoyed; how it makes you feel like there's no hope, no reason to get out of bed some days. Fear takes over and you're not the same person you were before. What was once very important to you seems like such a daunting task that you don't even bother. It's hard to immerse yourself in the woods when you are so deep inside of your own head. It's hard to escape that, but I did.
And gathering up my hunting gear and getting all camoed up was a big step for me. When I walked into the woods for the first time this year, I felt much like that prodigal son you heard about in Sunday school-- I had finally come home. So spending time hunting, no matter where, or by what ever means, is a big deal to me. Real big. For two years I didn't think I'd ever return to it.
As for my neighbor, she may as well get used to seeing a big, scary, gun toting booger walking the edge of the woods across the road from her house. It will just give her something else to be suspicious about.