We were up at the house on the hill last week and there was a knock on the back door. As I rounded the turn from the kitchen to the back hall, I could see the glare of blaze orange through the glass. Oh yes, how could I forget … that wonderful time of year when hoards of Wisconsinites adorn themselves in highly visible colors, take to arms, and head into the woods in search of the great white-tailed buck. Don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to hunting at all. In fact, without hunting or some alternative to control the deer population, I am quite certain I wouldn’t be able to drive up the driveway through the herd in a few years. Yet with my family walking about, and our dog Bella looking remarkably like a pygmy doe running around, I simply don’t want anybody blasting away at rustling noises and movement. It is an annual conversation with at least one would be hunter.
I opened the door and was face to face with an in-law of one of my neighbors. He is about 75 years old. He starts talking about wanting to hunt the land down around the south side of the woods. He is not being specific about wanting to hunt on our land, but that is the question he is really asking. I give the answer I always give, that in fact I really don’t want anybody hunting on my land. I indicate that he needs to stay east of the property line over on his in-law’s land. The only problem is, deer apparently aren’t complete dim. This time of year, I actually think the 75 acres of land that we own becomes a sanctuary for the overgrown antlered rodents. I know this by sightings, and by the fact I have amassed an impressive pile of deer sheds over the years. I think all the local hunters know it too. I am not going to win any popularity contests at the local pub on blaze orange days.
He shifts back and forth a bit, and offers up the fact that he’ll only come onto my land if he is tracking a deer. That is fine I say, but I don’t want you bringing a gun onto the property. Confused by the statement, he says “Well how am I supposed to hunt then?” Well, maybe you should consider hanging from a tree branch, and when the deer walks under you, you could drop on him and wrestle him to the ground. I don’t think he sees the humor in my suggestion, for he changes the topic to the great weather we’ve been having. The lightheartedness of the conversation is short lived, for he delivers a monologue that starts with global warming, moves into the Mayan calendar and Nostradamus, highlights Moore’s Law of computerization, and ends with the fact that he does believe the world will end in 2012. He cites the source of his information, and ultimate conclusion, as The History Channel.
Almost speechless, I can only offer up a bit of advice to him. I don’t really think that the end of the world is just around the corner. In fact, I am one of those eternally optimistic people that thinks we will pull together and figure out a way to solve our major challenges. In the meantime, maybe he should lay off The History Channel and switch over to TVLand. A few episodes of Andy Griffith solving the problems of Opie, Barney and Ernest T. Bass will restore your faith in humanity. He squints his eyes very slightly, lets out a faint grunt, and shuffles away … dazed, orange and confused.