Tuesday, December 19, 2017



THE SOUND OF TWO ROCKS CLACKING- Misses, Misfires, Fuck Ups and Woundings

    For those not in the know, today at sunset was the the end of 2017 deer season. Here's the recap:
 I missed the first part of the season because of eye surgery,  but by the time the rut was kicking in, I was cleared and lucky enough to get in the stand. The first evening in the tree I went to the orchard stand at GNJohn's. This is my favorite spot of all my places that I have the honor and privilege to hunt. The land is owned by my great friend Good Neighbor John and overlooks the field  that used to be the Denniston farm. The Dennistons are buried in that field, as is Andrew Jackson (not the president) but Ray Gilkey's uncle. Ray's ashes are also buried there. It's hallowed ground.
    I wasn't in the stand an hour before I spotted a buck cutting across the swamp, heading for my stand. It was a pretty nice 7 pointer, but I let him walk. It was the first night. I knew I could do better. And I was right. On the last day of bow season in Savage's stand I saw the "monster" and well.....you already know that story. Most of gun season I hunted that stand. Even though Savage would chastise me every time I told him I veered from my time in the "office," I had to change it up a bit. If it was up to him I'd have moss growing on me. After the first few days of the season (seeing nothing but does and spikes) I stopped seeing deer altogether.
    The temperature dropped and the snow fell. Finally you could see tracks. And around the office there was no evidence of deer at all- no tracks and no scratching for acorns. Still, with the vision of that massive buck seared in my brain, I kept at it.....to no avail.
    Before i knew it, the second rut was on, there was 6 inches of fresh snow on the ground and my spirits lifted. Then the reality that I had not killed any turkeys in the spring and my freezer held nothing but ice, set in. I was now more than willing to take a doe. At this point I couldn't lay eyes on a whitetail of either sex. My only hope was the last days of the season when we put on deer drives  with Savage, Mupp, and UB. Savage had killed two good shooter bucks, a ten and a nine, Bird had been hunting a big buck and had scored with one doe. UB had killed a doe. Only I was empty handed. It's not a competition.......but then again it kinda is. We hunters seem hardwired to think that way.
So as painful as it is for me to relive any of this here goes:

6:15 am
   I walk, in the dark, to my stand behind the house.
Approx. 8:00
   I spot movement about 200 yards in front me in the woods. It's a deer. It doesn't look too big and I can't tell if it's a spike or a doe. I can only legally shoot a doe or a big buck. Then I lose sight of the deer. It beds down behind  deadfall. I can only see a head. It stays there. I'm to meet Mupp, Savage and UB at my house at ten. I have no watch.
Approx. 10:00
    The sun comes out and it looks like about 10 am. I howl like a coyote. The deer gets up and I see it is too small to shoot, climb out of the tree and head back to my house. The hunters are waiting. The first drive after coffee is behind the cemetery. I pick a spot by Carlito's stand and Mupp pushes two does right to me. The first one is a mature doe on the run. I bleat and slow her to a trot, pull up the gun and fire. She spins, stumbles and crashes into the thick stuff. I'm elated to have finally connected. Mupp comes out of the woods, picks up the trail and finds blood. I figure I'll find a piled up doe. Think again.
    UB sees my wounded doe blast by and has no shot. The snow begins to fall. A relatively good blood trail is obliterated within the couple of hours, while we let the deer lay, hoping it will bed down and die. It is gut shot. In the meantime we put on another drive where I missed another doe and UB killed one, giving me the deer. This is my first "pity deer." I am disgusted with my lack of shooting ability and perplexed as to just what I am doing wrong, but thankful for the meat. Late in the afternoon we get back on the blood trail, but it peters out and I never find the wounded doe. A bad season has just gotten worse.

Hunt one last afternoon in the "office" and see nothing.

Hunt UB's farm. We have radios. I'm in Charlie's stand and UB and Savage are driving. UB comes over the radio: "Osti, there's a good buck right below you in that thicket." I'd already had my gun up on what I thought was a doe, then I saw it was a spike. This was a good buck? Oh well, farmers sometimes think differently and if that buck gave me an opening I was gonna shoot it. Instead UB gut shot it and Savage finished it off. Turned out there were two bucks in the thicket. UB shot the wrong one and I never saw the other "good buck."
3:00 pm
   We ended the day at Mupp's with another drive. I dropped UB off at the agreed spot and continue up the hill. I kicked out four deer and a fifth one stopped. I take a knee, settle the cross hairs on her chest as fire. "snap." The gun does not go off. I franticly take out the primer and insert another. The deer is still there. Again I settle the crosshairs....."snap." She stood there for one more misfire and then pranced away.  UB said later he thought I was cracking rocks together to scare the little thing away. After missing and wounding a deer  I shot the gun on Sun. to see where it was shooting. It was right on. I then cleaned the gun and must not of dried it properly before reloading. The powder had turned to mush. Another self inflicted wound.

8:00 am
   The hunters arrive. The last day's drives are always planned for my place and Paradise Pond. The first two drives put out one deer and no shots. But at the PP it was a different story. I was in Uncle Harold's stand, Mupp was in Milawyer's stand and UB and Savage were driving. I heard something behind me, looked to my right and a doe was coming fast from behind. I bleated her to a standstill raised the gun, put the crosshairs on her front shoulder, clicked back the hammer and fired. The gun echoed across the lake and the deer rocketed into the woods. Then there was another shot. I hadn't touched the deer. It was like I was shooting blanks.
    We looked for blood and found nothing. The second shot had been two other hunters who just happened to be trespassing in the woods. They didn't score either. In the end Savage gut shot a little one, which Mupp finished off, which  they also gave to me- pity deer #2. By now lead from the guns of Mupp, Savage and UB had laid down the two deer on my porch and I had nothing to show for a long and frustrating season.  It takes a village.
3:00 pm
The last drive of 2017 was the back ridge above the Denniston/Jackson/Gilkey/Resnick farm. Savage and I drove and put UB in the notch and Mupp by Extension Road John's. By the time Savage and I were in position deer were moving. "Osti there's two bucks coming up the ridge." came over the radio from Savage. I looked over the ledge and saw a small buck run into an opening. Then I caught another deer heading right for me. It was a big doe with a buck (I couldn't tell how big) on her tail. I turned, took a knee, figuring they would give me a shot. The doe popped her head up about ten feet in front of me like a wack-a-mole. I never had a chance to raise the gun. She snorted and spun. Then the buck came up and gave me a good broadside shot. He was a nice size deer with a small six point rack. I could've shot. Maybe I should've shot. But I didn't. The buck kept on that doe and disappeared.
   By sunset UB had killed a another really nice, big, doe and we all ended up at Ray Gilkey's grave with the sun over our shoulders. It's one of the most beautiful places on earth, Ray's ashes tucked in by his uncle Andrew Jackson and a couple of Dennistons, welcomed us. We drug that doe out and congratulated each other on all coming out of the woods safe and in one piece. The sun was just sinking on the other side of the Neversink as we loaded her into the back of the pickup and drove back to the church.
    This has been probably the most frustrating, and in many ways worst deer season I've ever experienced. I had malfunctions, mistakes, and just plain mysterious misses. My confidence is at a low ebb. I think that maybe my ability has left me, or for who knows what reason,  I should give up and just stop hunting altogether. I'm at a loss to explain it. I can't blame it on anything apparent....not  my eyes or even Trump. But what I do know is, like more successful seasons I will always remember it. I contemplate every miss and malfunction and grieve for that wounded doe. It's not easy. But, like my old man was very fond of saying, "Nothing worthwhile ever is." Thank You! to whoever is listening.        

Monday, November 20, 2017



    It's not the one you are thinking of. It's not the one about Louis CK luring female comics back into his room to try on new material...naked with a hardon. Nor is it the one about church elder Rob Kennedy. I'm paraphrasing : "So the wife and are are having a little matinee and I'm about to get down to business when i feel this "pop" in my boxers....." Wait, Kennedy wears boxers? "I look down and ....." I told you it's not about that. You'll have to ask him for the story. It's a doozy! No. In fact this is an actual hunting story. A tale of life and death, hope, heartache and failure.....yes surprise......failure.
     On September 26th I had my left eye sliced open in the shape of a pie. Then the Dr. peeled back the whatever and poked a hole into something or other in order for who knows what to work properly. I trust he knows what he's doing and put my sight in his hands. Almost two months into the process, my healing has been sufficient and a normalcy is returning, but not 100%. So when I was finally given the green light to bow hunt again I wanted to make sure everything was working properly. I shot a few practice arrows and I was on. During the rut I let a few smaller bucks pass and never had the bow string back. On the last day of the season that all changed.
   The thing with bow hunting that is so challenging is trying to remember all the little things you have to do in order to kill a deer with an arrow. And make no mistake this is not some gut strung, traditional long bow. I shoot a sighted compound bow...state of the art. But even with all these modern advantages the task is not an easy one. Over the years I've wounded, missed and killed plenty of deer. And you want to think that you learn from your mistakes. Next time I won't do that. Or next time I have to remember to do that. This is what brings me to the release.
    We had gotten into the stand about one thirty in the afternoon, my nephew Waders and myself. I set him in Milawyer's stand and I went further into the wood's to Savage's spot. I'd only hunted it one morning and had seen nothing. I had low expectations and would have been happy to see a few does. By 2:30 I was settlled back and absentmindedly scanning the woods, when I heard a rustle in the leaves. I looked up and saw a deer coming towards me about 50 yards out. It was a "slob," "a brute," "a hog....stud.......monster, slammer, BIGGEST BUCK I'D EVEN SEEN!" So I calmly turned to my left, lifted my bow from the hook, smoothly stood up, He kept coming and never saw me. At 20 yards he went behind a hemlock tree and I drew the bow string back....settling the top pin on his vitals. He stepped out from behind the tree and I remembered something I usually forget. I remembered to level the shot. There's a little bubble (just like a carpenter's level) on the bow sight, it makes for a more accurate shot. So with that massive buck not fifteen yards from me, seconds from a swift death, I looked at that bubble and with my good eye could not for the life of me see it.
   And here's the parable part of the tale. I had my finger just floating above the trigger of the release. I was so ready to kill that buck.......that beautiful, magnificent, creature. But in that split second before settling that pin and pulling the trigger I hesitated. And when I doubted my instincts and my sight failed me, I twisted the bow (ever so slightly) in order to find the bubble and before I knew what had happened the arrow had released........ it was gone. I would never be able to call it back. Instead of a satisfying "thump" I heard sickening the "swish." I had hit dirt. The buck spun  and was gone. I was sick. I'm a hunter. I had failed.....miserably.  So for the vegans and PETA kids in the bleachers this ones's for you. And this is the thing. That experience was rough for me. It brought up so much other stuff... fears....inadequacies.....and at the same time I did take the time to level the bow....even though I couldn't. I learned that at that distance that was overthinking.  And out of that, that buck lives. And now deer season has begun. The next time I pull the trigger may or may not be on that buck, but for now he's all that's in my head.  

Friday, October 20, 2017




    Here's just a few of the powerful men deserving of the walk of shame alongside Harvey Weinstein- R. Kelly, Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby, Woody Allen,  Anthony Weiner, Bill O'Reilly, and Roger Ales. Add to this, plenty of less than public players and stacks of rape and abuse files in every police department in the country and the #Metoo hashtag (that was started 10 years ago) takes on more and more urgency in this most recent viral incarnation. Peering out of one good eye, unable to hunt, chop wood or even have sex, I'm left with CNN and social media to entertain myself and look inward at my own flaws and inadequacies on a variety of levels. Between hurricanes, mass shootings, impending nuclear war, and a steady diet of Trump's sociopathic narcissism, blink and you'll miss something. One eye is just not sufficient.
   Almost every woman I've ever gone out with, married or cohabited with had at least one episode of sexual abuse at the hands of a creepy uncle, neighbor, ex boyfriend or complete stranger. So when these me too testimonials and confessions played out, I wasn't too surprised. Reading all this history in order to tell my family's story, it became glaringly obvious how oppressed women and children (of all colors) have been throughout history. Slavery, of course, is the most horrific of all institutions,  that even today continues across the globe, serving to exploit women sexually and otherwise.  It has always been, and still is, women of color who suffer the most. It's only an accident of birth that I'm a white man and not a black woman. My position of privilege is secure, but that doesn't mean I can't be introspective and use my tiny white man's brain for self examination, reflection and empathy. So did I? Was I? Will I? Have I ever? Me too?
    Along with the outpouring of support that these victims of sexual abuse have garnered, there has also been a grumbling of disappointment concerning the male response to the hashtag. Why aren't more men stepping forward to either confess their sins or tell their own stories of abuse? It's a little like trying to answer the question "Have you stopped beating your wife?" It's tricky to wade into this hashtag pool. But I'll try. I have no abusive incident to share. I've searched my memory banks,and although I have been in less than healthy relationships from time to time. I can honestly say I have never been taken advantage of sexually (by man or woman), nor have I consciously use my position of power (HA!) in order to take advantage of another human being sexually. Whatever depredations I have perpetuated or endured have been consensual. Booze usually figured prominently.
    To shine a light on these powerful scumbags like Weinstein is a good thing. It should have been done years ago. Women like Paltrow and Jolie, who have been powerful Hollywood icons for years get little sympathy from me, as they join the shaming , calling for Weinstein's head. To say you kept quiet for your career rings hollow. Quentin Tarrintino is in the same boat. If career trumps your well being (and those that walk in your foot steps), the hashtag will never go away. To my great nieces and nephews, I only hope you never have to experience abusive behavior of any sort or say "#metoo." But if you do, tell someone, anyone, and we will take it from there and try to make you safe. You are loved and we will do everything in our power to protect you. #Youtoo.        

Saturday, September 16, 2017