I am pleased to announce that I have officially performed my rite of passage as a true Sconnie girl by taking my first pilgrimage “Up Nort” to go hunting. I knew it would not be easy, but I knew it was something I would have to do as an adopted member of the Wisconsin lifestyle. The experience was above all things: educational. Here are the seven differences between what I thought hunting was and what hunting actually is.
1. You don’t need to wear camo.
I had intentions to wear full body camo, even paint my face. Anything worth doing is worth doing right….eh? (See what I just did there. Sconnie girl right here ya’ll). I was slightly disappointed to find out that while hunting from an indoor elevated shed, my dress was rather unimportant. The shed got to dress up in camo, but I didn’t need to.
2. Not all tree stands are created equally.
I really thought everyone hunted from a cabin/shed. I’d heard of crazy awesome tree stands that were bigger than my room in Grand Central. Tree stands that were carpeted, heated, complete with couches, TVs, and a full blown mini bar. Ok, maybe I dreamed some of those last characteristics, but I really thought tree stands/houses were awesome.
Wrong. Tree stands are tiny benches attached to a ladder, exposed to 100% of the elements. Rain, snow, wind, cold. No heat. No mini bar. Luckily, the weekend that I went hunting was the rainiest, wettest weekend of the entire fall. It rained for 48 hours straight. So I didn’t have to brave the completely open tree stand. Instead I got to sit in the shed. I’ll be honest though, the enclosed tree stand was only about 10% better. Still no mini bar. And it was still freaking cold.
3. The cool kids don’t hunt with guns.
Apparently all industries have a “hipster”. Even in hunting. Hipster Hunters use bows to kill deer. Not guns. Bows are cooler looking, harder to use, and require a lot more skill. So if you really wanna be taken seriously, use a bow and arrow. However, bows are just as dangerous as guns, which is why I was not allowed to touch it. Now, this is not a sexist thing, it’s a Melissa thing. I was not allowed to use the bow for the same reason I was not allowed to use a knife for the first 18 years of my life. If it is dangerous, I will hurt myself. So I wasn’t able to whip out my inner Katniss Everdeen. Maybe some day. For now, I will perfect my binocular skills.
4. Camping doesn’t mean tent camping.
Sometimes camping means sleeping inside a camper/pop-up that has furnace heating, a queen sized bed, and a kitchen fully equipped with a wonderful chef that makes blueberry pancakes, meatloaf, and roast chicken sandwiches.
5. You don’t hunt drunk.
I always thought the whole reason dudes like hunting so much was cuz you sat around in a tree and drank. I had this mental image of a bunch of dudes in an enclosed tree stand spending afternoons making wizard staffs out of the 85 empty Miller Lite cans that littered the floor (the heated, carpeted floor). First of all, you don’t hunt with other people. Second of all, you hunt at 6 AM, if not earlier, and the last thing that sounds good at 6 AM is a Miller. And thirdly, the whole bow skill thing I mentioned earlier? Ya, weapons and alcohol apparently don’t mix. If you’re a serious hipster hunter.
6. You don’t shoot everything you see.
Just cuz you see a deer, doesn’t mean its worth shooting. It may actually be worth shooting, but sometimes the timing isn’t right. I always thought that you shot the deer, loaded it up, and went home. False. There is this whole tracking thing where you have to follow the deer’s blood track around for hours until you finally find it. And well, if its 5 PM and the sun is about to set, it’s gonna be a pain in the ass to track that deer in the dark, cold, and rain until 11 PM. So do you always shoot? No.
7. In fact, sometimes you don’t see anything.
Sometimes even the deer realize that sitting outside for multiple hours in the pouring freezing rain is freaking crazy. And so not even the deer come out to play. No matter how many times I chanted (well, whispered) “Come here deer!” – they didn’t come.
I went hunting and didn’t see a single deer.
I sure hope that doesn’t invalidate my pilgrimage.