By Kyla Elverud
There are many benefits that come with hunting close to home. Reduced travel costs and being able to hunt the evenings after work are two major “pros” that led us to buy the forested and conveniently located property we have. With creeks running nearby and a natural corridor to the high ridge behind us, we have a fair number of critters passing through. Despite zero success thus far, I continue sitting on well used game trails within a short walk from home.
Seems like a bow hunter’s fantasy, right?
Enter the “con.”
Approximately 30 minutes into my morning sit one weekend, I heard a faint meow. It was apparent that Ringo, also known affectionately (by me) as “Bitch-Ass Cat”, managed to follow me to the ground blind and was actively searching for me. This is not a unique phenomenon, as he has been known to travel miles from his lush digs in the backyard shed. I stayed quiet, knowing he would soon give up his search and wander back home.
Shortly after, I heard a rapid rustling through the grass outside and nocked an arrow in anticipation. I’d already had chipmunks poke their heads in, but this sounded loud and determined. My hands shook in anticipation; it was certainly a buck. Probably a big one. I should have put Pope and Young on speed dial.
The snake welcomed himself in without so much as a hello. Being accustomed to snakes, I stayed sitting on my chair and waited for him to make his way back out. As a non-venomous and typically shy species of garter snake, I was sure that with some encouragement, he would vacate the premises.
The situation went from mild amusement to “fuck, oh dear” in the few seconds it took me to poke its tail. The snake decided to take a few hot laps around the interior while doing its best impression of a king cobra and throwing in a strike on occasion.
I don’t mind snakes, but this one was extremely fast and clearly intent on climbing up my pant leg and making an attempt on my life.
I evacuated the blind and was immediately met with the reason the garter snake wasn’t acting like a garter snake: Ringo. The cat was still outside, smirking and batting at the angry serpent every time it tried to leave, effectively keeping it corralled in my space and cementing my opinion that all cats are assholes.
Abandoning the bow and any chance of seeing a deer, I grabbed the most menacing stick within reach.
First, I chased the cat off. Then I spoke some soft words to the snake. Its ears perked up, and I could see the kindness and gratitude in the snake’s eyes as he slowly approached me and allowed me to remove him to a safer place. We shared a hug, and, with a misty eye, I watched him depart.
Alternatively, a less courageous person might have used the stick to fling the snake through the door of the blind and into the woods. In that situation, the snake may have come darting mightily back, jaws gaping and trying to attack said person again. It’s probably only natural that such a person would flail around like an old lady fighting off a bee with a broom and commence to play profanity-ridden golf with the snake until the bastard finally gave up the fight and slithered away.
No cats were harmed during the making of this, unfortunately. I can’t say the same for the snake.