By Jody Fuller
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, were assigned to the first firing order on qualification day to set the standard for the rest of the platoon. It was a lot of responsibility, but something I took great pride in.
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. I lit the broad side of the barn up; 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.
We didn’t see anything due to the unseasonably warm weather that day. 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.
I posted a photo to Facebook of me holding the rifle as if I was about to drop my first deer. I was critiqued from the clothes I wore to how close my eye was to the scope. For what it’s worth, the critiques were justified. In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t see a deer, or I would have come home with another black eye. My friend popped me in the other eye for being too loud.
We stayed until dark, and then went to another friend’s deep processing facility. I’d told him we were coming either way. I’d never seen so many deer in my life. He even let us rip out some guts and saw off some legs and other accessories. I love trying new things.
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. 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.