One of the wisest things a person can do is learn about themselves. Take the time to answer all of those whys. Why do I act or react to certain situations? Are my actions something I should change in order to grow and rise to a different level of a good person? Or, maybe, just maybe my actions are how I was made, and I am fine with that. Just because I am right-handed or maybe left-handed really has no need to be changed. Just know it and make the best of it. Well, my type of hunting was sort of like that. This little idiosyncrasy of mine began when I could finally stand up and walk. In those young learning years, Mother used many adjectives to get my attention. When she used my full name and enunciated each name, I knew it was time to either run and hide or put on a second pair of pants. But when I started kindergarten in 1950 my teacher used my birth name a lot more than my mom ever did. “Kenneth pay attention”.  “Kenneth sit still and behave”.   “Kenneth go back to your seat and do your coloring”.  Well, I tell ya in those days, coloring within the lines on that silly paper was not a goal of mine. I was not like “little miss goodie” who never colored outside the lines. My colored cat usually looked like a porcupine. Or that bouncy ball looked more like a blown-up puffer fish with spikes all over its body.  Except in second grade when I fell madly in love. I was a perfect student that one year.   But anyway, on with the story. You see, I could never sit still for more than a minute or maybe two. To go into the woods and sit for hours at a time never fit into my character. I had to keep moving. Thus, I had to learn the old fashion way to have a successful hunt. I had to learn, find the track, then find the deer. Do just what I could to outsmart this creature. That was indeed my challenge.
This was the third year that I had hunted the south side of Saddleback. I was after that trophy buck. One of my friends had successfully brought home one weighing over 275 pounds. Mine just had to be bigger. I was also held by the rule that it just had to be a clean shot. One shot only. Not like that fella that bragged it took him 16 shots and finally he brought home his animal. I had seen and trailed this one awesome buck up and down the mountain more than once. He was always able to outsmart me and that irked me.  I realized this was his living room and I was in his home, but he was always the winner of the day. I respected that but did not give up.

There had been a nice fresh snow during the night and made conditions just right to track. But I knew his habits and wanted to outsmart him.  I slowly made my way up through the rocks and ridges to get above this fella. I was as quiet as a ghost sneaking through the woods. I soon spied a set of antlers that appeared to be looking down the mountain where I had traveled the day before. The heart stopped and I stood frozen still.  This could be the one, this could be the day I was the winner. But I did not have a good view of the challenge. I had to move up the mountain to get a better view.  Inch by inch, step by careful step, I floated higher up the mountain. always taking a quick peek at those antlers. They had not moved yet.  I could feel this was the day I had outsmarted my tormentor.  Ok, the time was right and all I had to do was step out into the small clearing and end this challenge. I hesitated because I had enjoyed our game over the past few years. I had seen him many times, but the time or area was just not right. It seemed almost a shame to shoot while he was laying down waiting for me. But I convinced myself this was part of life. My family and friends would not waste any of this precious gift and we would be thankful.
So, I stepped to the side and took aim. Now, this was a great time to use Dad’s favorite words. I surely did say many of them. I had been stalking an old white birch stump. Those roots looked like an awesome set of antlers. I said some more words and shot that stump three times. That ended my hunt for the day. I went home to eat supper.  It would be beans and red-hot dogs again tonight. Outsmarted by a stump. I am sure there is a moral to this story, but I am not sure which would apply the best. Stumped again probably would fit the best.   Ken White COB mountainman

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