Jan 10, 2014

He Said, She Said

By: Hannah Dumke

My father and sister have slowly become hunting buddies. They are a perfect pair; they both enjoy the special ambiance nature imbues during the early morning, they both love the long time spent in the outdoors, appreciating nature’s miracles along the way, they enjoy the sport of hunting, and most importantly, they enjoy each other’s company. Even though this pair is a perfect match they do not always see eye to eye. Now when I say they don’t see eye to eye, I’m not talking about politics or the time of my sister’s curfew I’m talking about the retelling of a story. For as long as I can remember, my family has been going on camping, canoeing, hiking and fishing adventures, and as with all adventures, things don’t always go as planned, especially where is my Dad is concerned Somehow we always manage to survive, and with survival always comes a story. In my Dad’s version, he is the hero (a.k.a he got us out of the mess), and my sister’s version, he is a zero that got us into the mess in the first place. The rest of us find it quite amusing to hear the dramatic difference between the two versions, never quite sure who to believe. Listening to the two is similar to reading children books with alternate endings, parts very comparable and others so diverse it creates a whole new story. One of my favorite stories I love to hear is the time my sister shot her first buck. As soon as the memory is brought up I settle in ready to hear the alternate versions of the same experience…

My father begins the story with how they were the first two up in the entire cabin and the last to leave. His version: it took her way to long trying to look cute, her version: he couldn’t find his important stuff, like the bullets and one of his boots. His version, Maddie, and I take off; we are forced to hustle to the stand with only twenty minutes until opening. Being late, we are not able to enjoy a calm peaceful walk we are forced to enter stealth mode, trying to go fast enough to enter the stand on time but slow enough not to break a sweat. Maddie’s version, “We walk slow, we walk fast, we walk slow, we walk fast, what’s up with that? Why can’t he make up his mind?” His version, on the way to the stand, Maddie thought she heard something causing us to stop and listen. Minutes pass and sure enough a magnum buck comes out of the fog. Due to the low light condition and the haze of the early morning we were unable to count the tines but we could easily detect the tremendous mass of the rack. The buck very slowly begins walking towards us checking the wind. He is now in range and several steps away from bow range. I was thinking this would be the easiest kill in the world; he was browsing and due to the wind direction fully unaware of us. Unfortunately, we had seven minutes before the season opened. I certainly did not want Maddie’s first buck to be shot before the season started so we excitedly sat down and waited for the minutes to tick by. As we waited, I realized we were directly in line with a buddy and his young son, there was no way we would be able to take the shot and we were in a dangerous location ourselves. As hard as it was, it was best for us to move on. We stepped over a ridge and snuck out undetected, hopefully leaving the deer in prime location for my buddy, Bill, and his son, Topher. We finally got to the stand, Maddie putting on all her clothes plus my extra clothes to stay warm. After sighting our first buck, the morning was pretty dull, only seeing two does. By 8 o’clock Maddie was cold and hungry ready to go in. This about killed me; it was like walking out of a Packer Super Bowl game early in the first quarter…unheard of! The rest of the afternoon was spent as father- daughter time, we went to lunch, the cheese factory, and a craft show. As fun as going to a craft show on opening day (or anyday!) was, I was really, really fighting the urge to get crabby. For my sanity, we needed to get back in the woods. Mind you, normal opening days I would enter the stand at dark and not leave until dark, and if I did so happen to leave my stand, I would never leave the woods.”

My father’s eyes are bright and the excitement in his voice is contagious as my sister shakes her head thinking his story is all wrong. My father continues explaining how the real story was about to begin,

“We returned to our stand by 3 and within minutes Maddie begins to hear a noise coming from the valley. The way the stand was set up, only one of us could look down into the valley without much movement. The plan was she would keep watch on the valley and I would watch the fence line and the corn field above us. After a moment the noise was recognized as a deer, after another moment she confirmed the deer to be a buck. Through the process my daughter would talk in a nonchalant, calm voice telling me what was going on. “It’s getting closer dad, it’s getting closer,” because she was so relaxed, I was thinking about 250 yards away. She continued to whisper, “it’s getting pretty close dad.” In a calm, monotone voice she whispers, “it’s right there dad! Try looking on the other side of the tree.”

I poked my head around the tree and OMG!! The buck is broad side at 20 yards, angling closer yet. At this point the wheels fall off the bus, I have full-fledged Buck Fever. As the deer approaches, I realize Maddie is on the wrong side of the stand, so I picked her up, sat her on my knee and switched sides; making a tremendous amount of noise. At this point, I am shocked the buck didn’t run away. She picks up the gun and puts it on her left shoulder; I move it to her right. The fight over which side to have the gun goes back and forth until she whispers, “Dad I shoot left-handed.” While I was trying to put the gun on her wrong shoulder, the deer moved to 12 to 15 yards away. It was a miracle the deer did not bust us; we were making more noise than if we were juggling garbage bags filled with empty Old Style bottles. I am so filled with adrenaline that I don’t think I could’ve shot it. I kept whispering for her to shoot but she doesn’t take my encouragement, the deer jumps the fence and begins to trot away. I grunt and it stops, once again, I excitedly tell her to shoot. I was surprised when she actually shot, not thinking she would have the courage because she didn’t shoot when it was at an easier range. I could tell the shot was a perfect hit to the chest. We waited about five minutes and unloaded the guns; we could barely climb down the ladder we were shaking so hard. I then showed Maddie where the initial hit was and instructed her to track the deer herself while I followed behind. Sure enough, she hit the deer with the skill of a seasoned hunter, I couldn’t have been more proud.”

My father has a smile so big as he relieves the moment, you could just feel the pride for his daughter radiate off him. He then nods his head, confident his story is the precise version of what actually happened. I look towards my sister, who rolls her eyes at dad’s dramatic enthusiasm and the fact that he screwed up the entire story. Once again we settle in to hear the “real” version.

“There was frost everywhere, dad and I were bundled in warm clothes. We were walking up the trail slowly when I heard a rustle in the woods. I whispered to dad, “I hear something,” he kept telling me I didn’t hear anything. I continued to persistently whisper, while he continued to ignore me, thinking that I am a lame loser. Crabby at his disregard, I make him stop and listen, sure enough he hears it too. In a small clearing through the brush a large buck appears, unfortunately, it is a few minutes before opening. As we sit behind a tree, we realize we couldn’t shoot because we might be in line of other deer hunting people. Sadly, we carried on with our walk through the frost, running late as usual. Before we get to our stand, we hide behind some logs and lay there for quite some time. No deer cross our path, so we continue our journey to the stand. We sit there way to long, bored and hungry I convince dad that we need a hunting break and that we should go into town to get fresh cheese curds. Being the persuasive daughter I am, I was able to convince him to get lunch at the Milk Jug Cafe, fresh cheese curds at the cheese factory, and also convinced him to go to the craft show. Dad was NOT overly thrilled. He felt I had procrastinated long enough, and drags me back to the deer stand. Once we arrived, he left me to go track a deer that our friend had shot. I sat in the stand alone enjoying nature, reading my book, and doing very little hunting. After some time dad returns, we sit and sit and sit some more. Opening day was coming close to an end, but I kept hearing rustling giving me hope that today would be a successful adventure. I whisper to my dad that I hear something, “No you don’t,” he responds.

The whispering goes on, annoyed that he is ignoring me again, I persist, “DAD I HEAR IT!”

“Maddie, you are going crazy.”

“DAD I SEE A DEER, no, no dad I see a buck!”

Dad still not believing me asks, “Where is it? There is no buck!”

“Look behind the tree! Dad, a buck!”

After awhile, my dad takes my advice and, sure enough, there is a buck in rock throwing distance. I didn’t have much time to gloat about being right (yet again) because my father was practically peeing his pants in excitement.   I am on the wrong side of the stand to have a good shot, in response dad literally picks me up and throws me on his lap. Dad then forces the gun onto my right shoulder but I shoot left handed so I switch sides. He keeps trying to force the gun back to my right while I pull it left. I calmly look him in the eye and tell him that I shoot left-handed, and he says, “Oops,” at which point I start laughing uncontrollably. Like in church, when you know you aren’t supposed to, but the harder you try to stop, the harder you laugh. He is shaking and so worked up, making it harder to stop laughing. Dad is trying to shush me, advising me to shoot. The deer is perfect distance, perfect stance I line up my scope right on its heart. I don’t shoot. There was a leaf in the way and it really bothered me. He has a harsh whisper once again telling me to shoot. The deer starts trotting away. Dad makes a buck call with his throat, the deer stops and I shoot it right in the heart. It leaps, runs about 75 yards and collapses. The stern whispers now turn into shouts of joy, “WE GOT IT MADDIE, WE GOT IT!”

Climbing down the stand was quite the task, we were both convulsing with excitement. Once we get down we followed the blood and found the buck lying there. We walk back to our stand because my cousin, Mac, was nearby and we didn’t want to ruin his chances, so the sitting continued until close. Mac ended up getting a six point buck and I got an eight. We then proceeded to gut our deer and haul them back to camp, where we celebrated our first bucks.”

As you can tell there are some significant differences in the two versions of the same experience, however, as I listened to my sister finish her moment in the spotlight, I caught myself smiling. I wasn’t smiling at the drastic alterations of the two stories but rather the fact that we were together. I realized it doesn’t matter whose story is wrong and whose is right. It does not matter what, when, where, how the story precisely unfolds. What really matters is the art of storytelling, the time spent with the ones you love, the ability to relive a memorable moment. Just sit back and enjoy your escape from reality.