Our neighborhood has been invaded by gangs. These bands of heavily armed men slowly cruise our gravel roads as they peer out the darkly tinted windows of their powerful SUVs.
Yup, it's Hunting Season once again.
Hunting is an entrenched ritual in this part of the world. It's something we do each fall, sort of a carryover from our primitive past when we celebrated autumn's arrival by sacrificing a chaste young maiden. Many things have changed since then. For one, Equal Opportunity has made it so that young maidens now ride shotgun in those SUVs.
No annual hunting ritual is complete without a visit to a sporting goods store to stock up on such hunting-related items as camouflage trousers, camouflage shirts and camouflage underwear. Camouflage clothing can render a man virtually invisible, an invaluable feature whenever a guy's wife decides it's high time he got going on her "honey-do" list.
A friend and I recently made our pilgrimage to a certain mega-store that specializes in outdoorsy merchandise. I won't say which store it was, but the letters of its name can be rearranged to spell either "able sac" or "lab case."
The store proved to be a Mecca for outdoorspersons of every age and gender. Even though it was still more than a month until Hunting Season, the place was packed with hunters hunting for hunting stuff.
All I personally needed was a new scope for my old rifle, a seemingly simple mission. The trouble was, there were WAY too many scopes to choose from.
"How about this one?" said the clerk as he handed me a barrel-sized scope which had a magnifying power roughly equal to that of the Hubble Space Telescope. I peered through the scope, then quickly put it back down. That thing nearly sucked my eyeball right out of its socket!
It was certainly a nice scope, but its value exceeded that of my old rifle. I opted for a cheaper set of optics.
My friend had a shopping list as long as his leg, so I was free to roam the store for a good while and was thus able to observe hunters in their natural habitat. I perceived that they weren't simply hunting for hunting gear; they were after an Ideal Hunting Experience such as those playing on the TV sets scattered throughout the store.
In these films of Ideal Hunting Experiences the weather is always perfect, the stalk is always stealthy, and the hunter never misses. Such films make guys like me -- guys who, according to our wives, can't even hit an immobile porcelain target -- believe that we too are capable of an Ideal Hunting Experience.
The films of Ideal Hunting Experiences were backed up by a panoply of mounted game animals placed high along the perimeter of the wall. Here is an excellent elk, there is a winsome whitetail, that is a crafty cougar, and there's a...Labrador Retriever?
False alarm. The Labrador was, in fact, a plastic facsimile used to display a hunting vest for dogs. What's next? Doggy tuxedos for those nights out on the town with that comely canine companion?