Why I Don't Hunt with No School Teachers! Part One
Copyright 2012 – Stephen Redgwell
I learned a long
time ago never to go huntin' with school teachers. I didn't much care for them when I was a kid, but they really angervated
me when I got older! I've been meanin' to tell my grandkids this story, but their daddy is a teacher himself and there hasn't
been any peace around the house since before the weddin'.
The big problem with teachers, and my son in law especially,
is they don't know when to shut up. Just gettin' Dalton to clamp it at the end of the day is impossible! He prattles on every
chance he gets. The poor kids! Teachers just don't understand that no one cares to listen to them on holidays, after school
or on weekends. Did I just say weekends? Heck, especially then!
This is what I'm talkin' about. One Saturday
afternoon, I went over to my daughter's house. Standing on the front porch, holdin' up a well used, 600 page copy of Hans
Dietrich Von Kurfurstenburger's Advanced Grade School Grammar - Fifth Edition (Revised), was Dalton. It was the weekend and
you could hear him from the street, tryin' to cram some English into two terribly bored, fidgety children. That man is pure
"But daddy, it's Saturday! Can Jo and me go play on the swings?" That was my youngest granddaughter,
Melissa. She was only six and listenin' to her daddy was torture.
"No, no, no, Melissa! It's 'MAY
Jo and I play on the swings, please?' You are asking permission, so we use the word 'may'. And it's 'Jo and I', not 'Jo and
me'! One final thing: you simply wish to play, not to 'go play'. Grammar is important!"
turned to a smile when she saw me walkin' up the driveway. I waved at the kids and shouted,
don't you think them kids get enough of that during the week, or are you into S&M?"
Jo, the oldest,
smiled at me, waved, and asked, "What's S&M, daddy?"
Dalton turned six shades of red and told the
children they could play on the swings. He seemed a little ticked off and asked,
"Why do you insist on speaking
that gutter talk every time you visit?"
I smiled and told my son in law it was time to pull the chalkboard
out of his ass and act like a real person. "Hey Dalton, I think I used a simile. Here's another. 'Now shut up like you
know how!' "
Dalton started to answer. "Actually, that's not a..."
But I cut him
"I'll be damned what my daughter sees in you. One day, when I'm an old man, lyin' on my death bed,
I'll likely have an epiphany. You know what that is, Dalton? I'm talkin' about havin' a sudden understanding or an insight
about you. On the other hand, it's unlikely that I'll ever figure you out."
Dalton just shook his head and
called for my daughter, Sam. That's short for Samantha. Still shaking his head, he went inside the house. A couple of seconds
later, my daughter came runnin' out the door.
"Hi daddy! I'm sorry that you had to see that. I've tried
to tell Dalton that weekends are for having fun, but he thinks the kids need to be prepped now for college!"
"That's okay, honey. Tell you what, I'm gonna give you and the girls a break. I figure to break Dalton of that annoying
habit of always bein' a teacher, and take him huntin'. Would you like that?"
Samantha gave me a big hug
and whispered in my ear, "I think that's wonderful, daddy, but Dalton isn't the outdoor type..."
worry little girl, what's the worst that can happen? Maybe we'll lose him and my grandkids won't have any more weekend English
The following Saturday, I showed up at three thirty in the morning to get Dalton. We
stowed his gear in my pickup and took off. He looked tired, which was good. At least he wouldn't be tryin' to correct my English.
Heck, I was speakin' it before he was a twinkle in his old man's eye. Come to think of it - and this might sound mean spirited
- it was probably a good thing that his dad died young. He didn't have to watch his son grow up to be a moron.
I greeted Dalton in a loud, clear voice. "Hot damn! A weekend of deer huntin' - just you and me! Ain't that something?"
"Oh yes, it's something alright..."
"Don't get sassy, boy! By ten o'clock, we should
be up to our armpits in deer guts. I brought plenty of beer, bacon and gummi bears to snack on."
"That's right. Them and beer are two of the world's most nearly perfect foods. Listen here,
Dalton. When this earth was made, all the lower forms of life was made to munch on plants. That fattened them up for the higher
forms - us."
Dalton had a disgusted look on his face and said, "Not everyone eats meat, you know. Some
people have seen the light. Too much meat means high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, acne, clogged intestines..."
"Shut up, boy! It means hickory smoked heaven, hot off the stove. You'll change your tune when you smell bacon
fryin', as you're wakin' up! In the meantime, here's a brick. Just one quick blow to the head and I figure things should be
peaceful for a few hours, while we're on the way..."
As we was drivin' down the road, I realized that this huntin' idea might not have been the best thing I ever thought
of. Then I had that epiphany I told Dalton about the week before.
There was almost two hundred miles of dank,
deep and dirty ditches on both sides of the road between his house and my deer camp. It was awful easy for things to go missing
in all that mud...
Dalton was nice enough to keep quiet for 150 miles of the trip. It didn't last though. Just
before we reached the turnoff to camp, I pulled into Tom's Husky station for some gas, and he woke up.
you really need to replace this old pickup with something more fuel efficient. It's destroying the ozone."
What he said ticked me off. I bought this pickup new in 1988 and had it paid off in four years.
here, Dalton, I've been drivin' this Ford for twenty-five years - twenty-one of 'em without a monthly payment. The motor has
264,000 miles on it, without any major repairs. It's a 351, but that probably don't mean nothin' to you. What it means to
me is that it's dependable."
Dalton rolled his eyes.
"Watch it, boy. This old truck has
moved tons of firewood, camp supplies and venison since new. Your wife went for her first ride in it when she was six years
old. It carried what little furniture you owned to your first apartment, when you married Sam. It has a history with my family.
Put another way - a way you might understand - it has tenure. Somethin' you don't have."
"First, it was destroyin' the ozone. Now it's ugly. Listen close! It don't burn no oil.
The paint is faded, but there's no rust. The radio still works. I'll explain it to you this way - in twenty-five years, this
is the only vehicle I've owned, but you and your friends have owned three or four new vehicles each. How environmentally friendly
is that? Then there's the money it's cost you. You've always been in debt, and for what? Just to own a hunk of new steel!
That don't seem too smart to me. Dalton, you're stupid, but you're too dumb to see it."
My son in law went
silent when I got out to fill the tank. The owner of the station, Tom Chapman, came over to say hello. “Hi Bill, I ain't
seen you in a couple of weeks. I...oh, I didn't notice your son in law sittin’ there. It's Dalton, right?"
Dalton nodded, but said nothing.
I couldn't resist one small jab. "Yep. Just lookin' at his face,
you wanna slap him. Still, he married my little girl. I wonder what possessed his folks to name him Dalton?"
"I dunno, Bill. I'll bet that when he was a kid though, he got beat up a lot at school. I think this is one of those
times when you can genuinely blame the parents for how their kid turned out."
I looked at Tom and whispered,
"I figured to bring him with me deer huntin', but he's gonna be a lot of work. Wait 'til he finds out there ain't no
real toilet at camp!"
Both of us started laughin'.
I finished toppin’ up the tank and
filled a couple of five gallon gas cans for the generator. I figured to park beside the restaurant and make sure everything
was okay before we headed down the twenty-mile dirt road to camp.
"Dalton, I'm gonna check the trailer and
make sure the load is secure. You get us a seat in the restaurant. Order me a coffee and a BLT. I won't be long."
Tom walked over again and asked how long I'd be stayin'.
"Just a couple of days. That's about
all I think I can handle with Dalton. It's not really about gettin' a deer. I wanted to give my daughter and the grandkids
a break. Since it's the first weekend of the season, I'll get him to give me a hand settin' everything up. All things considered,
the fresh air will do him some good. It ain't healthy spendin' all that time cooped up in a classroom, starin' at a computer.
Heck, maybe I can turn him into a real person!"
"Good luck with that, Bill. It took me ten years to
break in my son in law. He's dumber than a bag of hammer handles, but he's good with tools. I think you got your work cut
out for you. This is gonna sound unkind, but he don't seem too bright to me..."
"Thanks Tom. I know
what you mean, but I gotta make the effort. It's for the grandkids, right?"
I went into the restaurant and
saw Dalton talkin' to Tom's wife, Jean. She ran the place. Jean smiled and said, “So you've finally brought Sam's husband
in for me to meet. He's, um, interesting to talk to, Bill. Let me get your coffee."
Dalton sat quietly,
staring out the window. I sat down beside him and said,
"This time of year sure is pretty. Fall is the best
for me. Always has been. The kids are back in school and there ain't many tourists around. But I think what I like the most
is watchin' the trees change colour. I ain't no art critic, but God must be a painter. He's good with vibrant colours, splashin'
them around all over."
"Wow, that actually sounded nice! I'm surprised to hear something like that
"Don't worry, boy, it won't last. There's plenty to be done and I'm sure you'll tick me
off in no time. Do yourself a favour, when we get to camp, take a few minutes and breathe the air. Smell the forest floor.
It's changin', you know. Mother Nature is gettin' ready for her winter's rest. You cannot experience any of this back home,
breathin’ in car exhaust or listenin’ to an iPod!”
Jean brought our food to the table and we
ate in silence, starin’ out the window. It was cool outside, and I was lookin’ forward to a campfire later on.
I bought the
camp in 1992, the year the pickup was paid off. It is 120 acres of mixed hardwood and pine - complete with a cedar swamp at
the northern edge. There is even a small creek runnin’ dead centre through the middle of the property.
Over the years, I built a small cabin, an outhouse, a woodshed and a small play area for Samantha. Her outdoor toys consisted
of a worn out tire tied up with some rope, and two ancient swings, saved from the junkyard when they tore down the old public
school. It wasn’t fancy, but made her happy for many years. Now, I hoped my grandkids would get to use them.
There weren’t a lot of creature comforts inside. The furniture was a hodgepodge of homemade 4x4 cedar, rough-cut
local wood and castoffs from home. The centrepiece of the two room cabin was an aging pot belly stove, bought second hand
from a flea market beside Tom’s Husky station. It was the only source of heat. My wife loved the place and called it
‘rustic'. I called it comfortable.
It was gonna be interestin' to see Dalton’s reaction.