The common mantra during the whitetail rut is to sit on stand all day. After all, bucks often move randomly, and many good bucks are killed between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., hours when many hunters are back at camp, eating and napping. It’s something I believe in, having shot several really nice deer during midday hours. After all, you can’t kill ’em from the couch, right?
But I’ve also spent countless hours on stand when nothing was moving. Not even squirrels, Tweedy birds, armadillos … nada. It gets lonely out there, and when it does, the mind tends to wander. My mind is like that most days anyway. It wanders off on tangents a lot. It might be a full day’s sit on stand, a long hike, a weekend solo backpack trip — anything that gets me away from the hustle and bustle and the noise of everyday life and allows my mind to wander free from normal outside stimulation and influence.
When it does, I sometimes think weird thoughts. So I thought — there I go again — I’d share my Top 10 random thoughts while alone in the woods for an extended period of time. I won’t state the obvious one — sex. We all go there, right? So why dwell on it. So, here we go:
10. Pompous A$$e$
How many people act like experts, but really are not? Reminds me of a conversation between Dorothy and the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz:
S: “I haven’t got a brain. Only Straw.”
D: “How can you talk if you haven’t got a brain?”
S: “I don’t know. But some people without brains do an awful lot of talking. Don’t they?”
D: “Yes, I suppose you’re right.”
9. Life is a Carnival
Why is it that the closer to the horizon the moon gets it appears larger, but the closer to the horizon a ball gets, the smaller it looks?
8. Voodoo Children
I look at all the stars that appear on a dark, moonless night, and wonder: How did the Vikings, in those little ships with no charts, no GPS, no maps, no tide tables, crappy food and not enough fresh water, successfully and safely navigate the North Sea, using only the stars?
7. The Paradox
One of life’s interesting mind games is the paradox. An example: the Liar Paradox, which offers up the simple sentence: “This statement is false.” If this is true, then the sentence is false, but if the sentence states that it is false, and it is false, then it must also be true! Does that make your nose bleed or what?
These are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected, and frequently humorous. There are a million of ’em. A couple of my favorites: “I almost had a psychic girlfriend … but she left me before we met.” “Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.” “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” And finally, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.”
5. Is That You, Mom?
I always think about my mother, who gave up any dreams she may have had for self-actualization to raise my brother and me. She was my best friend, and when the cancer took her, it left a hole in my heart that can never be repaired. And I think, when you lose your mother, you
lose the one person in the whole world that loves you unconditionally. When she is gone, that is it. No one else will love you like that again for the rest of your life.
4. There IS A God
The wilderness always affirms my belief in God. When you observe the intricacies of an ecosystem unsullied by the hand of man and begin to understand how every plant, rock, liquid and animal – and the vagaries of weather — all have their place in the working of day-to-day life, and then break it down as far as you can to the interactions between various individual elements, how can you believe anything but that it was all part of some grand design, and not random?
3. What Have I Learned?
Why is it that something always breaks no matter how much we’ve checked our gear beforehand? I’m not exactly sure. But I am sure such random acts simply teach us that life is not a smooth road, but a bumpy rollercoaster of a ride that requires us to have patience, persistence and preparedness if we are to succeed — and survive.
2. What Might Have Been
The older we get, the more we tend to reflect on our lives. Part of that is wondering what might have been. Sometimes it’s like an out-of-body experience, where you’re talking to yourself as if you were four different people, all asking about you. When that happens I think weird stuff like, “I wonder what my ex-wife would say about me at my funeral?” “In high school, did the girls think I was as dorky as I thought I was?” “If the apocalypse came while I was on stand and I was the only person left alive, would I hurry to eat all the ice cream before the power shut off?” And my favorite: “It’s only 11:00 a.m. Why did I eat all my lunch already?”
1. Just Shoot Me
One thing that drives me bonkers is observing regular folk get mesmerized by cable hunting TV shows when they’re in camp. These folks wouldn’t be caught dead watching this stuff any other time. These days, outdoor TV reminds me why television is called a “medium” — because it certainly is not rare, and definitely not well done.
What about you? Where does your mind wander on those long, lonely vigils on stand or in the wilderness? Drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and share them with me.