Friday, May 24, 2013
By BOB HUMPHREY
I was coming out of the woods the other day when a non-hunting friend pulled up and asked, "Did you catch anything?" That question generally evokes a response depending on my mood. If I'm feeling indulgent, I'll explain that fishermen catch things. Hunters kill them. Not a bad thing; it just distinguishes that there's no such thing as catch-and-release in hunting. If I'm feeling frolicsome, I might say something like, "I caught one but let it go because it was too small," then enjoy their look of befuddlement. Maybe I should be more understanding, but the hunter's lexicon offer so much fodder.
Deer hunters typically use one of several methods to reduce their quarry to possession. One is still-hunting, wherein the hunter is not still, but moves slowly and quietly through the woods hoping to spy an unwary whitetail. This is not to be confused with "still hunting," which is the proper response to the age-old question "Did you get your deer yet?" if you have in fact, not gotten your deer yet and are still hunting.
In that case you may want to employ one of the other tactics. One is "stand hunting," where, oddly enough, you spend most of your time sitting, on your stand (see what I mean?). The other is driving, which in no way involves a vehicle. One or two hunters (but no more) move along trying to herd a herd of deer toward a stander, who in this case probably is standing.
Once you employ a vehicle it's called road hunting, which is also a misnomer because you're not really hunting; you're driving, just not in the sense referred to above.
Mainers are fond of proclaiming the difference between a partridge and a grouse. "If you approach it," they'll begin, "and it walks away, it's a partridge. If it flies away, it's a grouse." There's a third possibility, especially for road hunters (see above). If it stands stock still on the roadside, it's a trap.
Whenever someone tells me, "I saw a flock of Canadian geese," I ask, "How do you know they're Canadian?" Most give me that same confused look as the I-caught-one-but-let-it-go folks, until I explain. The proper name is CANADA goose, not Canadian goose. The latter could be any species of goose (and there are several) that was born in Canada. Boy, doesn't that get their gander.
Then I ask if they know why, when geese fly in a vee formation, one side is longer than the other.
The Cliff Clavins of the world usually offer some explanation involving aerodynamics and how the lead goose cuts the wind, reducing the drag and wind resistance for those behind him (or her), making it easier for them to fly. Nope. That's why they fly in a vee; but it's not why one side is longer than the other. The reason is there's more geese on one side.
A pet peeve of mine is corruption of the word "fisher" to describe one who fishes. A fisher is a large and sometimes vicious member of the weasel family, perhaps most well known for being among the few creatures that will kill and eat a porcupine.
I don't know why. Anyone who has eaten a porcupine will tell you it tastes horrible, though there's no shortage of toothpicks.
If you must bow to political correctness, "angler" is a much more appealing appellation. Maybe I have too much time on my hands, but these are the things I ponder as I sit in my stand, still hunting, because I haven't filled my tag yet.
Bob Humphrey is a freelance writer and registered Maine guide who lives in Pownal. He can be contacted at: