Have you ever had “city folk” ask to hunt your ground? It happens a lot around here. I have let many people hunt our ground over the years. Sometimes it worked out well… other times not so well. Let me tell you how I deal with these requests nowadays.
In Missouri, we lived on 2,000 acres, complete with woods, creeks, and pastures. Many of my buddies from work asked to hunt after visiting my little piece of heaven. I have a rule about this: I always go with new guys the first time they hunt my ground. I want to show them around, and I want to see what kind of hunters they are.
One of the first things I do when I get a “city” guy out there is head straight up the bluff as quickly as I can. If the guy is a smoker, he usually won’t make it up the hill. Then, while he’s sucking for air, I explain to him how old the oak tree is that he’s clinging to, and how long it would take to get a fire truck out here if an ash off his cigarette happens to start a fire. That is usually enough to keep them from smoking while they hunt my ground, and once it was even enough to cause a guy to quit those cancer sticks.
I had a city guy ask to go deer hunting a while back. His name was Glen. He came from Ohio and was a self-proclaimed great hunter. Now, Glen pulled up in his truck all dressed in camouflage, and I have to say, he looked like he knew his stuff. He was ground hunting with a compound bow, and he was blending right into the woods completely with all that camouflage. So I let him go ahead, telling him I would catch up. “You’ll never find me,” were his words as he disappeared into the trees. “Don’t worry, I’ll find you,” I told him.
I waited a few minutes, then started tracking him. I lost the trail after he crossed our creek, which told me he was walking up the middle of the creek just to lose me. I walked around for an hour without finding him, so I sat down on a stump to take a little break before I back-tracked again, when the tree next to me suddenly came to life. It was Glen.
“Hey Glen” I said calmly, as if I knew he was there all along. Truth be told, he scared the daylights out of me, but I would never let him know that. “How did you find me?” he whispered with a puzzled look on his face. “These are my woods, my friend. Nothing happens in here that I don’t know,” I told him quietly.
When I came into work the next Monday, Glen had told the guys his story, and he left nothing out. He said I was a throw-back from the old days of Indian scouts. I never told Glen the real story, but I never lied either. What harm could it do to let them all believe I was a great hunter?
From then on, when my work buddies came out to hunt, they were very careful about what they did and how they carried on within the boundaries of my land, for they never quite knew where I might be.
That was fine with me. I imagine that is how legends get their name sometimes– with a little luck and a buddy who can tell a great story. Old Glen may have embellished a bit, but it all worked out for the best.
We’ll see you all next week!