Toward the back of the place, on a somewhat secluded ridge that’s a mix of pines and oaks overlooking a little hollar (hollow for those with a bit more polish), stands my shooting house. I call it that because it sounds a bit classier than “deer shack” but in truth, that’s what it is, a shack. With Nancy’s help I built it myself. It’s got an old but sturdy and comfortable wooden chair, storm windows I kept when we replaced the windows in the house, a metal roof, and is sheathed in a weatherproof siding that a buddy of mine gave methat was left over when his house was completed. It’s not big or particularly eye appealing, it’s sorta squirrel proof but far from mouse proof, but it’s comfortable and gives me a place out of the weather if I want to hunt.
I’ve sat in there and watched little bucks spar, deer feeding on the acorns under the oaks, a bear as it crossed the hollow in the snow, and a host of birds and small game as they went about their day unaware of my gaze.
One evening I watched the neighbor’s big black house catwalk past a doe at spitting distance and hardly glance at her in the typical aloof cat attitude while the deer watched the cat walk on by, looking a bit surprised if deer
can show emotion. I’ve killed a deer or two there and passed on a lot more for one reason or another. I’ve sat in my shack and shivered against the cold, dozed off, welcomed the morning sun as it slipped thru the trees and into the back window, sipped tap water from my beat-up old water bottle, enjoyed Little Debbie cakes, deer jerky, and my own homemade trail mix, and have had a lot of discussions with my Creator. The last few times I have sat with both my camera and a heavy handgun equally at hand, happy for an opportunity to use either.
If success from my shack were to be measured in deer taken, it would be a very low number indeed. On the other hand, if success is measured in contentment, peace, and enjoying the moment, then my shooting house tops the charts. I feel sorry for those folks who think of hunting assome sort of competition, won only by the number of deer taken, or more taken or bigger than the other fellow’s or whatever, for they’re missing the point. It’s not about tagging out, or how many points the buck had or what he weighed, it’s about the moments and the memories, and I count myself truly blessed in that respect. I hope those other guys figure it out one day.