The folks over at High Mountain Seasonings is having a contest this fall. Nope, it’s not a big buck contest…although it would certainly make sense that a company catering to providing meat handling supplies would have such a themed contest. In fact, this contest is one that any hunter can win whether successful in the field or not. The company is asking hunters to provide their funniest moments during the hunt.
Not that I’m entering this novel contest, but it got me to thinking what stories would I possibly pick out to include in my contest entry, had I chosen to enter. I guess the first one that comes to mind is an incident that happened out in Montana back in 1993.
We were on a mid-October antelope hunt and the weather had turned unseasonably warm that year. So warm, in fact, that much of the hunting clothing we had brought with us was way too warm to wear. This presented a problem because some of the hunters didn’t have any blaze orange clothing to wear except for their heavy insulated coveralls, etc.
One of the hunters, Bill, was an older gent (who has since passed away) but a very avid hunter. He asked me in hunting camp that day if I had an extra orange vest he could wear to stay legal. Well, as luck would have it I did have a vest…so I gave it to him to use.
Now keep in mind that when you’re out on the Montana prairie and the temps get warm this time of the year things get active…especially rattlesnakes. During the previous day we had encountered several rattlers on our journey so the word in camp was to stay on the careful lookout for snakes so we don’t have any accidents. This was made even more important because it was at least a three hour drive over some terribly rough terrain just to get out of this country if we were in need to get to the closest doctor. That was even more of an incentive to do whatever it took to avoid getting bitten.
So with the thought of rattlesnakes weighing heavy on everyone’s mind…the group set off to hunting. Three hunters, Bill, Mitch and John had glassed some antelope and decided to watch them from atop a butte. They hunkered down in the prone position and glassed the antelope for nearly an hour while some other hunters from our group attempted a sneak attack by coming around the flank. The day was windier than hell…and I’m talking one of those Montana prairie winds that will just about rip the hair off your head.
As the hunters were laying there Bill suddenly heard what sounded like a rattlesnake close by. He whispered…”Mitch, I can’t move ‘cause I think there’s a rattlesnake right next to me.” Mitch looked over and observed nothing. He told Bill he was nuts. Of course, this didn’t completely ease Bill’s mind. Then Bill exclaims, “there, I heard it again. Mitch, where the hell is the rattlesnake! I know I just heard one right near me. I don’t dare move or it could bite me.” By this time Mitch could sense the growing anxiety showing on Bill’s face…but again Mitch witnessed no danger in the form of a venomous reptile.
Now this was one of those instances where you need to trust your hunting partners, but sometimes your mind will play tricks on you. Bill kept hearing the snake and he knew by now it was none of the guys playing a prank on him. After all, Bill was a seasoned outdoorsman and he knew damn well what a rattler sounded like when he heard one.
Finally, Bill told Mitch he heard it again and this time it was so close it sounded as though it was crawling on his back. By this time Mitch had figured out what good ol’ Bill’s problem was. He was getting all worked up because what he thought was a rattlesnake turned out to be the tag on the borrowed orange vest. It seems that Bill had been wearing the vest inside-out all day and when he would turn just right in the wind the tag would flop rapidly sounding just like an angry rattlesnake. To make matters even worse for Bill, he was hearing it so well because it was right behind his ears.
Now mind you, I’ve never bragged about how I’ve always hunted with the brightest minds in the outdoors. I mean…let’s face it, if you put your hunting vest on inside-out you’re only asking for trouble. Wouldn’t you say?
Funny thing is when I got my hunting vest back from Bill the now infamous back tag was mysteriously missing. Yes, indeed, he was determined to kill that pesky snake and he did so by using his pocket knife to remove that trouble-causing tag. As you probably can imagine, tales of this little incident were quite popular back in camp that evening, much to Bill’s chagrin.
© 2006 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction Without Prior Permission.