The Okayest Hunter: A Short Story on Being Mediocre
It was a brisk November morning, the kind where the chill in the air nips your nose right as you step outside. Craig heard birds chirping through the window as he rolled out of bed, eyes crusted shut, at a clean-cut 4:00 AM. He looked in the mirror as he stood in his boxers, his unimpressive frame staring back at him.
“What happened to me? I used to be fit,” he said to himself, only slightly disappointed at the 45 pounds he’d put on since getting married. (Gotta love cold Busch Lattes)
With no time left to gawk at his own stomach, he got dressed, put on his boots, and walked out the front door.
He made his way through his dew-covered lawn and hopped in his truck. The check engine light popped on again, but Craig disregarded it as it’s been like that for about 6 months.
After a 30 minute drive, Craig was in a new world. No family, no job, no responsibilities. Just him and the wilderness (80 acres of publicly shared wilderness).
Craig unloaded his rifle from its case and trudged through the woods to a treestand he had left there the year prior. He had high hopes for this spot- he’d actually seen a deer here before which is better than his other spots.
Craig sat down and felt the wind blowing softly on his face as he waited for his opportunity. For a second he thought about the honey-do list he had waiting for him at home, but quickly cleared his mind of this thought.
“Not here,” he whispered to himself, “you can’t get me here.” Just like that, the thoughts of cleaning the gutters, raking leaves and putting kids to sleep vacated him, and he transitioned into “full-hunter-mode”.
His head was completely unclouded, as he focused on the landscape before him. He was downwind of a clearing, the sun was just rising, and he could barely even hear the interstate.
Just as he began to enter his own earthly Nirvana, he noticed a motion up ahead. He rubbed his eyes in disbelief, as he saw what could only be one thing- a doe. He began to frantically pray, thanking God above for sending him this divine blessing. Before he could even come to, he looked back to see not only another doe but a spike buck trailing the first doe.
This isn’t real life, he thought. Could it be true? Had he actually not only seen a buck but been given a shooting lane?
Sure enough, it was real. He looked down the sights, ready to bag his first animal in four seasons, and a buck nonetheless. He pulled the trigger and watched the buck drop.
He began to shake. Was it from the excitement and adrenaline, or the lack of light beer in his system? We’ll never know.
Craig approached his kill, still in awe of the moment that had just taken place. He placed his phone against a tree, set a timer for the camera, and proudly posed with his 2-pointer.
He gutted his deer, only nicked the stomach liner, profusely sweating from having to bend over the whole time; his body wasn’t built for this anymore.
He made his way back to his truck, loaded up his harvest, and got in the front seat to immediately text a photo to his buddy.
He got home, showered, and got ready to return to his mundane life, a bit less bitter than before because of his perfect morning. Suddenly, he felt a buzz in his pocket. He looked to see his buddy had replied to his message.
“You ACTUALLY shot that thing? That’s a spike! You’ve gotta be the okayest hunter I know.”
At first, Craig got ready to defend himself, but then he realized something. Maybe he is an Okayest Hunter. He doesn’t have time to invest all he’s got into hunting, because he’s got work, a family to provide for, friends to drink beer with, etc. But that’s okay, because, on top of all of that, he’s still a hunter.
Getting outside and doing what he loves, that’s his little escape. That’s what keeps him going to be a good father, husband, employee, everything. So Craig just replies, “Yes I am,” because Craig is proud to be an Okayest Hunter.