Friday morning I was ready to hunt. Problem was I couldn't get out of the yard with the 2WD truck or the front wheel drive Volvo. I called my cousin's son, Troy, to ask if I could borrow his 4WD pickup. He said "Sure." I soon learned the battery was dead. The jumper cables wouldn't provide enough boost. I put the charger on the five year old battery for an hour. The truck finally started. I drove to town to find a new battery. It was 1:15 PM when I arrived. My home town of Mayville, North Dakota, rolled up the sidewalks and shuttered all business establishments at precisely 1:00 PM the afternoon of Christmas Eve. I turned around and made for the interstate. Grand Forks is only 30 some miles away. The quarter tank of gas was rapidly consumed by the vintage pickup's engine in throaty gulps. As the needle dipped below "Empty" I switched to the second tank. I was greeted by sputtering, surging, ca-chugging noises. The backup tank was empty. I switched back to the other empty tank as the truck decelerated on interstate 29 halfway to Grand Forks...65...55...45...35...sputter, Vroom! The remaining gas took hold. I took the next off ramp for the prairie community of Thompson. The gas station was closed but the pumps were open. A polite stranger complimented me on my "beauty of a truck" and asked me what year it was. My reply of "I have no idea" earned me a puzzled glance. Refueled, I drove back to the interstate and again turned north. I exited and drove to the first open auto care location, the WalMart. "I need a new battery" I said. "What year, make, and model?" the helpful clerk inquired. "I have no idea" I replied "It's some sort of Chevy." "Guess we'll have to go look" she smiled. In about 30 minutes I was back on the road.
It was approaching four in the afternoon. If I hurried I might still sit the woods for an hour or so. I drove south toward the Goose River and turned on to the minimum maintenance road. Yeah, this time of year minimum maintenance means approximately no maintenance but I was driving a gas guzzling four wheel drive pickup with really big noisy, knobby tires. Within ten minutes I was stuck but good. I called our local hunting buddy. I'd been told he was in Washington state visiting family for the Holidays but I hoped he could refer me to a neighbor with a tractor who wouldn't mind coming out to help a stranger on Christmas Eve. "Where are you?" Tim asked. "Just off the main road, halfway down the hill by the old culverts" I groaned. "I can come get you after church" he said. "You're in town?" I suppressed a squeal of joy, well I think I did. "Yeah, see you in an hour or so." I took a nap lying on the monster truck's bench seat. The tractor's light and the gaping maw of it's snowblower attachment were a welcome sight. I was released in no time. The rescue complete, Tim invited me to his home for a splendid Christmas Eve meal with him and his extended family. I was so tired even the lutefisk tasted good. As I left he said he'd blow out the road coming in to his river bottom from the east.
Christmas Day I slept in despite the best of intentions. Come mid-morning I packed my kit, loaded up the truck, and made for the woods. As I made my last turn I realized I had everything I needed in the truck except my bow... I returned with my bow and made my way to the stand where I spent a quiet day. Toward quitting time I saw a nice doe - the only deer of the day - coming in from the west. The wind had been from the north all day so she should have crossed right in front of me. She didn't. She crept around, looked my way for a long while, then trotted into the trees to the north of me. The sky darkened, the white snow became gray. The day was over. As I began my half mile walk back to the truck I realized the wind had shifted during the day. The breeze from the southeast had carried my scent directly to the doe. Hmmn, guess that's why we call it hunting.
I got back to the truck, loaded up, and climbed in for the drive home. I turned the key and nothing happened. The brand new battery was dead. As I checked all the dials, levers, and gauges I found I had left the lights on, which was really frustrating because I had driven to the woods in broad daylight. I called Tim again. "I'll be right there" said the saint. When he arrived I apologized that my hunting trip had been more work for him than for me. "Are you going out in the morning?" he asked. "No, my head is not in the game." I said "I'll think I'll get a good night's sleep and roll for home." I drove back to the farm and put the charger on the battery. I baked my pizza, cranked back the Barcalounger, and watched Bladerunner for Christmas. Peace on Earth to Men (deer, and replicants) of Good Will...