Mom serves son humble pie in Family Deer Challenge
By Louis Black (Susan's husband)
Our son Cameron plays baseball for Victory University in Memphis, Tenn. While home from school a few years ago, he learned a lesson: Never underestimate a woman, and never, EVER, mess with Mamma, even if Mamma didn't grow up in the country.
To preface the story, my wife Susan is a city girl, and for her, hunting is finding a bargain at Macy's. She certainly didn't understand late one Saturday night when Cameron and I returned home late after a long, frustrating day in the woods.
She asked, "Why the long faces? And why are y'all so wet?"
Cameron and I had gone to bed way too late Friday night and gotten up way too early Saturday morning. We were cold, soaked, nasty, miserable, angry, bleeding and exhausted.
Cameron began telling her how he'd seen the biggest buck in his life that day, and how he shot at and apparently missed the deer.
"We looked and looked and walked and walked in this cold rain for hours and hours. In all that mud and mess, we just couldn't find any sign I'd hit that buck," he explained.
Mamma laughed. "You gotta be kidding me! You have a gun with a scope, so how hard can it be? You just put the crosshair thingies on the deer and shoot.
"And why did you let it run off? If I'd shot, it would've dropped right there in its tracks! And then I'd . . ."
Cameron cut her off and the competitive juices started to boil. Susan is super competitive, too, but I knew our son wasn't going to let her back down from those statements.
That's how the Family Deer Challenge began.
We bought Susan a hunting license and had her try on hunting clothes Cameron had outgrown. Our son was going to show Mamma it's not as easy as it looks. Like it or not, she was going to the deer woods.
The big day arrived and we took off for the deer woods. It was a beautiful sunny day and not too cold for an afternoon hunt.
We parked the truck, geared up and headed to the stands. The first stand we got to was our son's stand, which is a single-person stand about ten feet tall.
Mamma had a fit! She couldn't believe the stand was "that high." To her, it might as well have been the Empire State building.
I laughed to myself and thought, goodness, just wait until she sees our 16-foot two-man stand; she'll really freak out!
Cameron climbed into the 10-footer, and his mother and I quietly made our way to the taller stand a few hundred yards away.
You should've seen Susan's face when she looked up at the 16-foot ladder stand. She was NOT happy, and flat out refused to climb it. That's when Mamma decided she was going to sit on the ground!
We had a whisper-argument right there in the woods. I don't know if you've ever tried to be quiet when arguing, but it's not easy.
Next, and to my shock, Susan pulled out a solid white Neiman Marcus picnic blanket! She uses it when Cameron has a chilly baseball game, and she'd brought it in case she wanted to wrap up.
I could not believe we were actually going to spread out a white blanket to hunt on. We might as well have had a red flashing neon arrow pointing at us.
We got everything situated, and Susan saw my binoculars. "Why did you bring those?" she asked.
"To watch where the deer runs after you shoot," I replied.
She smiled. "You won't need them. When I shoot, the deer will drop in its tracks."
Then she leaned back against the tree with my .30-06 across her lap and said, "Well, okay, where are they?"
I thought to myself, here we are on the ground, not even in a ground blind, sitting on a blazing white blanket and talking. There's NO WAY we'll see anything.
I'd pretty much mentally resolved the afternoon as nothing more than a good opportunity to watch the sunset with my lovely wife. And maybe Cameron, who was about 300 yards away, would get a shot.
I figured I'd just be a good sport with all this white-blanket-on-the-ground business. But taking a deer? No way.
Those were famous last words.
We hadn't been sitting 20 minutes when I saw a flicker of white about 50 yards away. I pulled up my binoculars, and sure enough, it was a very good-sized doe.
"What are you looking at?" Susan asked.
"I think it's a doe," I whispered.
She got very excited. "Where is it? Why can't I see it? How far away is it? Why doesn't it have horns?"
I could not have directed the next few moments any better if I had been a movie director.
This deer was going to see the white blanket at any moment and bolt to the next county, but to my surprise, it kept coming and kept coming, and my wife could now see it.
I told her if the deer walked in front of the big white oak tree 40 yards in front of us, to shoot.
I would've bet my favorite hunting knife this doe (actually, it turned out to be a yearling buck) was going to see or smell us at any second, but it didn't.
It continued, passing directly in front of the white oak tree. It even stopped and put its head down to graze.
I whispered. "Shoot."
Susan couldn't get the safety off, so I reached over and helped her. She took a deep breath, let some air out, then squeezed the trigger. BOOM!
I watched through my binos and, to my amazement, the deer collapsed in its tracks, kicked one time and sent about a thousand leaves into the air. That was it!
"Where is it? Where did it go?" Susan asked.
"You see all those leaves fluttering down? They're landing on your deer."
My cell phone immediately buzzed. It was Cameron.
"Dad! Did she shoot? Are you and Mom okay? Or do you have a hole in your foot?"
"You need to bring a sharp knife and the four-wheeler, boy," I told him.
"Dad, you have got to be kidding! I will never, ever live this down. Please tell me you are kidding!"
Turns out, Mamma shot a buck that had knocked off its antlers, I told him. Now she was asking questions.
"Where's the boy with the four-wheeler? Tell him I'm getting cold and I'm ready to go."
Cameron had to eat humble pie for about a year after that day. Mamma kept showing her picture anytime the subject of deer hunting came up.
But the next season, Cameron got his own trophy, a 250 pound 8-pointer that seemed nearly 7-feet-long. His Mamma was actually proud enough to let him hang it on our wall.
I've hunted for 40 years and seen some crazy stuff, but that deer walking right up on top of us while we sat on a white blanket was the most bizarre thing I've ever witnessed in the woods.
We joke if Susan hadn't shot that deer, it would've just walked over and laid down on the blanket with us!
That's our family's favorite deer hunting story!