Earning a Quick Buck is Deer to my Heart

It's that time of year again. No, not time to pay your taxes, pump your septic tank or visit your mother-in-law, though it's quite possibly just as distressing. It's time, of course, for none other than Cook County's annual zenith of bad writing, poor spelling and lame, testosterone influenced jokes: My annual deer hunting column!

Yes, it's time again for the recurring editorial where I rationalize my display of manliness and try to explain why getting up at 4:00 am, stumbling out into the cold darkness to spend the day sitting in a tree is fun. I don't know why REAL MEN, LIKE ME, have this innate drive to hunt. I think it may be one of those "evolutionary things" like women having smaller feet - you know, so they can stand closer to the kitchen sink.

Speaking of evolution, I've determined that when it comes to breeding, deer have something in common with humans: Size matters! Apparently, the bucks with the biggest racks are the most appealing to the does. Paradoxically, it's just the opposite in the human species. (Um, sorry about that one, ladies.) If any of this nonsense begins to sound the least bit sensible to you, would you please explain it to my wife? Ah, on second thought, best forget it.

REAL MEN, LIKE ME, often increase our hunting odds by using a scent attractant. I bought a new bottle of Doe-in-Heat (deer pee) and then discovered that I still had some left over from last season. I opened the two bottles, spilling some of the vile liquid in the process, but they smelled about the same to me. Doing a little research on the internet (that great fount of truth, knowledge and all human wisdom), I found (and this is all true):

1. Preserved deer pee should be good for 2 years.
2. You must buy new deer pee every year.
3. Unrefrigerated deer pee more than 3 weeks old is no good at all.
4. One should never touch or smell deer pee because you can catch all manor of scary afflictions (Oh-oh. Too late. And I was worried about anthrax.)

Anyway, remembering the mind-numbing boredom I experienced last year, I also armed myself with all the latest deer calls. I brought the Snort/Wheeze, the Dominant Grunt and, a favorite of mine because it reminds me of my bachelor days, the Estrus Bleat. I also brought along a set of rattling antlers because, during the rut, the deer are all supposed to come running when they hear a good fight in progress (kind of like ladies night at the Howling Wolf).

While none of this stuff actually helped me bag a buck, it wasn't a total waste. You know how sometimes an annoying song pops into your head, gets stuck and refuses to leave? Some people call this "stuck-tune syndrome" or "brain-itch," but I prefer the term "earworm."

The monotony associated with deer hunting always gives me a bad case of earworm and I've had some doozies. Some of my worst experiences have been with The Knack's "My Sharona," Disney's "It's a Small World After All," Los del Rio's "The Macarena," or (horror of horrors) Barney's "I Wuv You, You Wuv Me," (Oops, there goes my san-ah-tee).

This year's worst offender so far was Queen's "We Will Rock You." Rather than go silently but surely mad, this time I played along with the song in my head using my deer calls. It was great fun and went something like this:

Snort/Wheeze; Dominant Grunt; Rattle-Rattle; Rattle-Rattle.
Snort/Wheeze; Estrus Bleat; Rattle-Rattle; Rattle-Rattle.

I entertained myself like this for hours on end. While I didn't attract any whitetails, I'm pretty sure I fooled a lot of other hunters. Why else would so many have taken shots in my direction?

I suppose the prime benefit associated with tree-stand hunting is all the time it gives you to quietly enjoy the beauty of the fall season. Personally, the frost on the ground and the chill in the air filled a REAL MAN, LIKE ME, with peace and serenity. They also filled me with thankfulness that I don't wear nipple jewelry.

I also had time to ponder current events and came to the surprising realization that, at that very moment, Osama bin Laden and I were much alike. I remembered that videotape of Osama squatting in front of a cave, sweating, wearing camouflage and a funny hat, with a rifle in his lap. And here I was, squatting in a tree, shivering, wearing camouflage and a funny hat, with a rifle in my lap.

But then I realized there was one small difference. When a noise above caused me to look up, all I saw was a raven. When Osama is surprized from above, it's more likely to be a B-52. It's different living in America, don't you think?

And finally, before I forget, a short message to all our former servicemen who risked their lives for our freedom: Happy Veterans' Day! You deserve to be honored. And to all our current men in uniform who are risking their lives right now for the best country on the planet: Happy hunting! Real men (& women), like you, are in our prayers.

A column written by Daryl Popkes (BirchLake.com)

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