"Time-out, Ump!" I yelled.
I stepped out of the batter's box during a Little League game, slightly embarrassed. I had forgotten to remove a gold chain hanging around my neck with my initials dangling on it (just like the big-leaguers). Rules prevented players from wearing jewelry during games for safety reasons. I tossed the necklace into the dugout—my time-out was over and the game resumed.
Fast-forward 28 years and I was hunting a new deer stand—a stand with great promise, the kind of stand location every hunter dreams of on opening weekend of the archery season.
I was at least a mile from any house in all directions, and I know there are deer crawling all over this ground. I had seen them while turkey hunting in the spring, while deer scouting and planting food plots for the fall. I had been counting down the days unitl opening weekend when I could hit the woods, crossbow in hand.
I bought a fancy new deer stand that swivels 360 degrees in pure silence. My hunting lease is situated in Unit L. The "L" stands for liberal. Wildlife biologists consider the area overpopulated with deer and encourage hunters to take up to three does per day (three bucks per season).
It is still hunting, however, and unlike my Little League game, there are no time-outs allowed. I understand that all too well now.
I saw deer during a short hunt Saturday but none within bow range—except the doe that mysteriously appeared, staring at this camouflaged fool as I was putting my smartphone away from texting. Yes, I hung my head in shame.
On Sunday morning I was intent on not messing up the morning's hunt with texts to my hunting partners, no silly Facebook posts or even reviewing work emails. This day would be serious hunting business only.
An hour into the hunt, I was focused and waiting. But as they say, "Time waits for no man," and nature was not waiting on me -- nature was calling, loudly.
For those who are unfamiliar with crossbows, they are difficult and cumbersome to carry. They are difficult to quickly unload, other than firing a shot. To more swiftly answer nature's call, I opted to leave my crossbow hanging in the stand—what you might call a figurative "time-out."
I was on the ground unarmed, not in danger by any means, but totally unprepared for the one moment I had worked toward for months. But I thought everything would be okay because in my mind I said, "Time-out."
I was trying to take care of business as quickly as possible when I peered into the field and saw a deer heading directly toward me.
Under my breath I whispered, "But deer, I said, 'Time-out.'"
This spike buck didn't hear or didn't care. Unlike my wife, it wasn't concerned about the huge amounts of money I'd spent, the days working on the food plots, how far I'd driven, or about my mental calisthenics agonizing over which stand to hunt. He especially did not care that Mother Nature had taken over control of my body.
My crossbow hung in the stand overhead, but my phone was in my shirt pocket. I had to immortalize this story and quickly snapped a picture as the buck, obviously upwind, sauntered closer and closer. I looked around, wondering where the umpire was who might enforce my imagined time-out.
With no umpire in sight, I could only think that I was being tortured for the sins of my past as the buck came within 15 feet and stopped before easing on its merry way.
Miraculously, I was able to regain my stand and crossbow. But it was too little, too late, leaving me distraught, embarrassed and understanding all too well that there are no time-outs in deer hunting.
Erik Almy is an avid hunter, fisherman and Nooga.com reader from Cleveland, Tenn.
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