Before I get into this post, I am a hunter. I do kill deer. I do eat them afterwards. If you do not like this or uncomfortable with the fact that I do, first, don’t bother. I accept you for who you are and I don’t care if you can’t accept me for who I am. Second, good God, quit taking yourself so seriously would you? That said…
It’s October and in Michigan, that can only mean one thing now that my buddy Bill has moved back from the south… It’s hunting season. Now, my buddy Bill and I hunt especially well together. Neither of us need our hands held, we each compliment the others dislikes when it comes to chores (I cook, Bill doesn’t mind dishes, etc.) and while we do rough it in a completely rural campground deep in the woods (no electrical – except our generator, no restrooms, no showers, no running water… Imagine running out to the middle of any wooded area where you can get lost in ten feet if you don’t know exactly where you’re at and calling that a “campground”). On the other hand, we don’t exactly rough it either. Bill brings his generator, I bring the camper, we have heat and watch a movie every night before turning in… We’re out in the middle of nowhere but have many of the comforts of home. Well, we got back late last night from a three-day excursion – Thursday night to Sunday and I’m sore.
From camp, it’s a quarter-mile hike to my blind and another three-quarters to Bill’s so every day I hike out to mine, then back to camp, then we hike back out with a couple of 50 pound bags of carrots and sugar beets slung over our back which we then spread out according to bureaucratic regulations (don’t get me started). We go from my blind, then out to Bill’s, then back to camp for a bit of lunch and maybe a nap… Then we head back out for the evening hunt, come in just after dusk, make dinner (or order pizza if it’s raining and cooking outdoors is made unreasonably difficult), watch our movie while we eat, then we crash. Same exact thing, every day.
Well, I end up with between 2-1/2 and 3 miles of hiking a day over fairly aggressive terrain, lugging a 15-20 pound backpack and either my bow or 50 more pounds of beets (I usually take the beets because they’re harder to balance on your shoulder – less comfortable – because Bill’s my elder)… In other words, it’s not exactly a walk in the park. Between hikes, I’m sitting dead still for six hours in the morning and three in the evening. After a while, even with the decent beds in the camper, the hard miles and extra-long sitting wears on me and my back starts to act up. It’s actually not as bad as it used to be – we tented it one year and stayed another in a motorcycle trailer with a wood floor. This year, by comparison, was awesome.
So, in addition to the hiking, the sitting for hours on end, the one thing that can’t be escaped is the cold. The unrelenting, unforgiving cold… With the exception of five or six hours at night when we’re running a heater, it’s cold. This first weekend, we didn’t top 50 degrees till Sunday (generally speaking, between 34 and 44 F) and only Friday did we have any sun but with winds from 20 mph with gusts up to 40, it was anything but a picnic. Saturday it was cloudy and windy (again with the 20 mph wind) and extra cold. Try that sometime… Dress up as warm as you want, then go for a hike to get the blood pumpin’, then sit still for five or six hours and let me know how you feel. Not that I’m complaining, to do that would be stupid as much money as I spend to do it… I’m attempting to illustrate that this isn’t exactly a trip down to the Y Campground in July. There’s a little more to it.
In any event, while I am in spectacular physical shape, this whole deer hunting camp thing was a lot easier when I was younger and running.
So this morning I wake up and my calf muscles, specifically my plantaris muscles, feel like piano wires and my back hurts as if I was just kicked by a mule. Well, maybe not quite a mule, but I’m hobbling along like a seventy year-old smoker.
Most people in my position would make the incorrect assumption that what they need is a few days to recuperate. Not me, I know what I need – ’bout sixteen miles to spin this out before I take my daughters to swim practice this evening. Really, I have to ride this afternoon… I sure don’t want to take these wrecked muscles out on the club ride tomorrow nigh – and I’d sooner kick my own ass than miss that.