Going in to the Army, I didn’t know it, but I was really good with a rifle. Throughout basic marksmanship training, I was one of the top shooters, never shooting less than 36/40. I was so proficient with my weapon that I, along with five others, was assigned to the first firing order on qualification day to set the standard for the rest of the platoon.
When the dust had settled, literally, I’d shot a 22/40, thus failing to even qualify. I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, much less little green pop-up targets. I don’t know what happened, but I was devastated. How could I go from shooting expert to not even qualifying? Perhaps I was getting too cocky and needed to be humbled. We need that sometimes. If that’s the case, it worked. I came back and qualified later in the day. I shot 38/40; however, due to my failure the first go around, I could qualify no better than marksman. It was a bummer, but when put into perspective, it wasn’t all that bad.
This past week, for the first time in my life, I went deer hunting. Technically, when I was a kid, we walked through the woods with a shotgun a time or two, but that wasn’t hunting. It was simply walking through the woods with a shotgun. It was more as if we were “hunting wabbit” and we weren’t “vewwy quiet.”
That doesn’t mean that I’ve never killed a deer. From age 16 through 19, I ran over six of them. I’m fairly certain some of them died. I ran over a beaver during that same time span, too. I don’t think I’ve ran over anything since, other than the dead wooly mammoth I ran over in Maine back in November, but it was already dead. I think it was a moose. I’d never seen such a mess in my life.
Back to deer hunting—I knew if I saw a deer that I was going to drop it. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind. We sat in an enclosed tree stand. It was like a little house. Now that’s my kind of hunting. I endured the elements enough when I was
in the Army.
Due to the unseasonably warm weather, we didn’t see anything. I’m sure my loud talking may have adversely affected our success, as well. Either way, the ham sandwiches were really good, and the time in the stand with my friend was priceless. It was a bit of a bummer, but when put into perspective, it wasn’t all that bad.
Even though we didn’t kill anything, it was a great experience. There’ so much more to hunting than just shooting and killing. There’s just something special about being out in the woods and away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. I’m already excited about next season. I’m going to drop one opening weekend, but if I don’t, that’s okay, too. I’m a good shot, and when the time comes, it’ll happen.
Jody Fuller is from Opelika, Ala. He is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com.