Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

Deer Camp - Saints, Intercessors and Superstitions

Friends, Hunt'n, Deer Camp, , Religion, Strange But True

Many, many years ago when my wife and I were first courting I had occasion to attend her nephew's confirmation at a local Lutheran Church.  

I was raised a typical Roman Catholic kid that went to catechism class on Saturday, church once a week, devotions on occasion and church camp every summer to learn how to shoot a rifle and draw a bow.  I also read the The Lives of the Saints.  I still have my original hard cover copy. 

I topped it-off by getting a couple of degrees from a Franciscan university.  Until I met my wife-to-be I hadn't had much opportunity to hang-out in a Lutheran church.

Before the start of the confirmation ceremony Jill and I settled into our places in a pew.  

Lutheran gal.

Catholic guy.

We're sitting there waiting for the service to begin when I lean over and whisper-

Psst.  Where are they?

Where are who?

You know.  The saints.

What are you talking about?

The saints!  All the saints have gone missing from the walls and there is nothing but a big bare cross up there.  Up in front.

Are you nuts?  There are no saints on the wall in our church.  And nobody on the cross!

Hey.  I'm just saying - I'm feeling a Little lonely here without The Virgin, St. Joseph, St. Gerard, St. Dismas -  you know - my pals!

Hush-up!  I'll explain later.

What did I know?

Have any of the rest of you ever had to deal with blended families and blended belief systems? And step mothers? 

I digress. 

So began the tortuous journey of navigating our respective beliefs and spirituality.  Which ultimately led to the tidy civil marriage performed by my cousin's husband who happens to be a judge. 

You're probably thinking - What the heck does this have to do with deer camp and deer hunting?  There you go again rambling-off on a weird tangent.

Humor me for just a bit as I am a creature of habit.

Particularly when it comes to deer camp.  There are certain habits and rituals that are not to be meddled-with.

Call it whatever you want - but you hunters know what I am talking about.

Deer camp juju.

For instance  - you don't mess with the crew's needs.  Which means you don't reduce the menu budget.  You don't cut corners on the comfort.  You never, never forget about safety.  You don't cut their liquor ration after the weapons have been secured for the evening. Idiosyncrasies are both observed and respected.

Finally - you don't question the stuff  that cannot be easily explained.

Call me superstitious or call me religious but I don't take any chances with deer camp.

This all goes back to an experience I had more than a decade ago.

I was driving up to camp on a Thursday evening just like tonight and the first sign of supernatural intervention was my near miss with a big buck on State Highway 57.  To this day I have no idea why I didn't collide with that deer, or head-on with the vehicle approaching from the opposite direction or roll over in the ditch. 

Guardian angel maybe?

On Friday the following day the plan was to connect with some of my friends and neighbors for beers and burgers at Joe and Nancy's Bar in Rosiere. In the itty-bitty town of Rosiere is St. Hubert Catholic Church.

In Catholicism St. Hubert is the Patron Saint of Hunters. 

I parked the car and with thoughts of my near-miss the prior evening walked across the street from the bar to the church and found the door open.

I entered - eyes adjusting to the dim light - I walked in and immediately felt at home. 

The saints were all around me.

So I stuffed a Lincoln into the box, lit a candle and sat there for a spell.

I got to thinking about the fun the fellas and I would have over the next four days or so.

No entreaties or promises were made. I simply sat there.  

Alone in the church. 

It was Zen-like.

After a while I got-up, left and walked back across the street to join-up with my friends and neighbors at the bar. 

The next day - opening day - we had eight deer hanging from the meat pole before sunset.

A record.

To this day I scratch my head over the coincidence of those events and that year's hunt. 

Angels and saints maybe?

One of my secular habits is to always close my first evening alone with the Cowboy Junkies.

Tonight I have the wood burner stoked, the Junkies on the stereo and deer camp oxtail soup started on the stove.

To you hunters - safe travels, shoot straight and above-all be safe.

And don't forget your St. Christopher medal...


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