I’m glad you asked me this timely question. As this year’s hunting season has begun here in Utah, I’m reminded of something I wrote years ago, which explains my position on huckleberries. I also include below my fond memory of a deer hunt…..
The Utah Deer Hunt
The annual Utah deer hunt and camping event, also known as the “Daddy’s-New-Bullet-Hole-Scar Shooting Contest”, attracts deer for hundreds of miles. The prize goes to the wife of the first heart attack victim. The infarction must have occurred while drunken during a snowstorm in the woods, after hiking at most 100 yards uphill, clothed only in a night-shirt, slippers and orange cap. The deer must have been similarly dressed, except in boxers.
Camping is the art of moving the contents of every room in your house to the wilderness, where the misery is in tents. As Brigham Young, the leader of the Mormon pioneers told his followers at the campfire one evening,
“For it is written in LaPerla 26: ‘Did not the Phystiphytes depart into the wilderness and take their camp unto the place of the Zamalamadingdong to drink of the well of life, ye brethren and cistern’? So too my father dwelt in a tent, first the Ace of Spades, then unlikely followed unto it by the King, Queen, Jack and Ten of Spades. And, further, what is this life but a collection of horse flies ever circling the handcarts of fate around our weary countenances?”
Brigham excused himself to look up the word “countenances”. Then he led the singing of such inspirational tunes as “Nearer, My Gout, to Thee” and “Oh God, Why Didst Thou Lead us to a Wondrous Smelly Lake of Salt?” (These songs were written by an ancestor of Orrin Hatch as atonement for publicly linking the classified persecution of Mormons to the U.S. Government).
Much later many pioneers noticed the letters in “Brigham Young” could be rearranged to form the prophetic wagon metaphor “Aim Buggy Horn”, while the letters in “Orrin Hatch” could be shuffled to form “Hit Car Horn”. Thus were these two prominent figures forever linked in ecclesiastical horniness.
As a hunter only of good restaurants, I camped in the mountains at 9400 feet with my family. That’s so far above sea level that water boils on its own from the lack of air pressure. The site could only have been more pleasant located at 4500 feet back in my living room where the water never boils because the stove’s in the kitchen. Our camp was at the edge of an aspen forest, and it looked over an open field where many deer romped.
I watched the deer with binoculars. How the deer got binoculars I don’t know. On a nearby trail ATV’s paraded past, each carrying a harmless beer-belching hunter and a rifle. Both were loaded. I was in plain view of the hunters as they passed. They shot at me anyway. Deer, being naturally smarter than hunters because they all finished fifth grade, easily detected these men and interpreted them as danger; however, they were unnecessarily alarmed because of the magnification. Eventually we saw a hunter driving with a buck draped over the front of his ATV. He didn’t fool us because the ear tag said “Walmart Sporting Goods, Big Game Decoy Division”. How the hunter got such a tag on his ear I don’t know.
For many days we watched this entertainment while eating such nutritious camp meals as fried potatoes with dirt, pancakes with dirt, hamburgers with dirt, and grits with grit. We looked forward to meals cooked at home where we at least know where the dirt’s been.
On the last day we bagged our own deer. Near camp there was an old deer carcass. It was a ribcage, a skull, and a leg and hoof with a cute little tuft of fur on it. My wife, a first grade teacher, collects animal bones to make soup during classroom recess. We can never tell what are the animals in her collection except for the turkey, which still has the ear tag. We played a joke on the hunters by strapping the collected deer parts to the car hood, then slowly drove past their camp while picking our teeth.
After the deer hunt ends all participants go back to their respective voting districts, and a census is taken. The deer population actually increases as neighboring states’ bucks have immigrated to the safety of Utah’s hunting ranges. Hunter populations decrease, and the winner of the bullet hole contest is announced. And in the spirit of the early settlers who camped with Brigham, Senator Orrin composes new patriotic songs like “God Counts Every Vote” and “Let Not A Loose Hatch Sinkest Thy Ship, Oh Lord”.