It was our last day in a deer stand together one hunting season.
My wife Pam had the left side of the shooting house, and I had the right. We sat on the bench with our backs together, giving us the 360-degree view of the huge field.
Not that we really needed to see it all.
We weren’t actually hunting. We spent what turned out to be a beautiful afternoon doing what we usually do, no matter where we are. Laughing. Giggling, actually. Usually uncontrollably.
“We could have done this back at the camp in the trailer,” Pam said about halfway through the hunt. “The noise we’re making up in here, no animal would ever walk into the field.”
Sure, we could have been back in more comfortable surroundings — you have to understand how crowded a shooting house can be with me in it — watching the NFL playoffs and listening to Lucinda, Prime Prine or Bruce and E-Street Live.
As good as that may have been, it couldn’t have touched the pleasure we were about to experience that afternoon in our little shooting-house mansion on the hill. To this day it remains my favorite day in a deer stand.
I’m not sure what got the giggling started, but what kicked it into high gear was when I realized I forgot to bring bullets for our rifles. I started laughing at myself, which had a domino effect on Pam.
Her back was flush to mine, so when I shook, she shook.
“What is wrong with you?”
I was too ashamed to admit it, so I just kept laughing. The more I laughed, the harder she laughed. It went on for about an hour.
“Well, one thing good about this is that my having to (go to the little girls’ room) won’t hurt the hunting,” she said, which just made the laughing worse, which just made her urge to go all the worse.
I had to get up first in the stand, before she could.
“Bam,” went my head as it centered the low main-beam of the shooting house’s roof. I don’t remember what happened for the next few seconds. I was in la-la land.
When my head cleared, I remember seeing Pam with her hand over her face, trying to hide her laughter. I was sort of half of the bench and half on my knees and half on the floor, if that makes any sense.
“You all right?” she said, needing 10 syllables to get it out past the giggling.
“Yeah, I think so.”
“Good,” she said with the compassion of a mass murderer. “Then get the #@%*& out of my way because I’ve really got to go now.”
From that point on, we were gone. The laughing got worse when she slid back on the bench and got a splinter in her butt.
“Justice,” I muttered, shortly before eagerly volunteering to pluck it out.
“That’s OK, I got it,” she said, knowing full well what bullet she was dodging.
Darn my eagerness.
Despite the laughing and the loud talking — ever notice that you can’t whisper quietly when you’re laughing — we did get some company in the field. A bobcat came first, trotting down a distant road.
“That’s a bobcat?” Pam asked.
“Yep, and I can prove it,” I said, leaning out the window.
I yelled: “Hey, Bob!”
The cat stopped and looked right at us.
“See, he knows!” I said.
Naturally, the cat took off for the hills, and we laughed a lot more until three deer walked into the field on Pam’s side of the stand. She eased her rifle out of the window and found the deer in her scope.
“It’s three does, one big one and two little ones,” she said. “What do you think?”
I didn’t hesitate offering an opinion, hoping she wouldn’t shoot.
“I think it’s a long drag out of the field, so if I were you I’d shoot the smallest one,” I said. “You’ll have an easier time cleaning it, too.”
She pulled the gun back in, laughing and knowing I would have happily retrieved and skinned anything she shot.
“It would ruin a great day. It’s been too much fun,” she said.
I kissed her for letting me off the hook, then I started laughing, the hardest I had all day, when I remembered about forgetting the bullets.
To this day, I wish she would have pulled the trigger.
We’d still be laughing about that.