It's a paradise made for the
male species whether they are there to hunt, or for a few days of
male bonding. Some members are serious hunters, while others come
to socialize in the wide-open spaces and enjoy nature at its finest.
The High Lonesome is so
remote there is no TV, no phone service, not even a cell phone
signal unless you drive miles into the high country, and even then
there is no guarantee.
In the midst of all this beauty
sits the shack. Yes, it is home away from home with all the
necessities. Nonetheless, the name fits! A total of 10 bunk beds
line three walls; there is a small bath, and the remainder of space
is kitchen and eating area. The dining table is a large handcrafted
picnic table. Seating is an assortment of mismatched desk chairs
that swivel and roll. Most were purchased for a song at thrift
shops, flea markets, or possibly pulled out of Dempsey dumpsters.
Gazing at the ceiling, one is in awe of the decorative, exposed
insulation hanging in disarray. It brings to mind the folds of a
flag as it waves in a breeze.
When doe season is over,
hunting ceases until fall. Larry, and Joe (a.k.a. Locksmith)
couldn't pass up one last trip, even though the weather forecast was
horrid. January in Texas can be as
wretched as any part of the country.
The first evening they
shared a stand named Motel 6. Yes, these men name
their deer stands! (Oh, Motel 6 leaves entirely too much to one's
imagination.) There they sat listening to one another's teeth
chatter and bones rattle as they shivered beneath layers of
insulated clothing. A number of wild hogs from the out-of-control
population were removed, but they returned to the shack without a
doe. After thawing in hot showers, they opened the door to
20-degree temperatures, did half-gainers into their sleeping bags,
and were snoring like buzz saws by 8:00 p.m. They claim to have
slept like babies with the pristine frigid air blowing a gale
through their sleeping quarters, while ice crystals formed in their
nasal passages. Luckily, the local mountain lions didn't wander
through the open door in the middle of the night.
Each morning would find them
planted in a different deer stand; some stands being ground level,
while others are perched in trees. One can only envision tree
houses for big boy to play in! After sitting perfectly still for
long periods of time, they would then moan and groan as they slowly
crawled back into the Bubba Jeep, and returned to the shack for a
hearty breakfast. The evening routine is pretty much identical,
with the added thrill of playing musical deer stands. If the
morning stand brought no luck, then a change would definitely be in
order. And, it seems all deer stands are not equal when it comes to
comfort. Some are not well built, with wind blowing through cracks
and crevices, and chairs that could destroy the strongest of backs.
Others, such as ones built by Larry, are airtight and constructed to
last a lifetime or two; all they lack is a commode in the corner.
Some stands are built for two occupants, while others are one-man
stands. Rotating from one stand to another seems to be how it's
done in the Texas wilderness, by these great white hunters.
Two days into the trip
weather conditions improved, although the hunting didn't. Still,
everyone enjoyed telling tall tales, eating enormous meals, playing
poker, and simply doing inexplicable guy things.
The last evening Joe was
dropped off at Jake's Valley deer stand, which sits 15 feet high in
a tree. Larry headed off to Boucher's Tripod. An approximate time
was set for Larry to return and pick up Joe.
When that time arrived,
Larry pulled up to see Joe frantically waving his flashlight out the
window of the stand and shouting, "I'm locked in and I've got to get
out of here now! Mother Nature is
calling and I can't wait any longer! I didn't think you were ever gonna show up."
Larry could barely answer as
he gazed upon Joe's panic-stricken face. Through his laughter he
yelled, "Don't you see the white string by the door? Just pull on
it! It really doesn't require a locksmith to get out of there!"
Joe spun around, spied the
string, gave it a yank, and the door magically flew open. "None of
the other stands have locks like this, and I didn't see that stupid
string. What idiot built this thing anyway?" He was nearly airborne
as he scrambled down the steps and sprinted to Bubba Jeep. "Drive
fast, Larry! I'm not jokin."
Away they went, but within
seconds Joe had broken into a cold sweat. Larry was driving like a
lunatic over the rocky terrain, and the old Bubba was clanging and
banging like a bucket of nuts and bolts. "Stop this thing right now
my time is up!" Joe stammered. He launched himself out of Bubba
before they even came to a full stop. The last thing Larry saw was
Joe heading into some scrubby brush, while removing layer after
layer of clothing. His outer coat went one way, and within a few
steps a lighter weight jacket was tossed the other direction; then a
sweatshirt went soaring into the air and landed in some bushes. As
he vanished from sight, Larry could see him struggling with the
straps on his overalls.
Once Larry regained control
and dried his eyes, he realized Joe had one more problem. He
reached into the back of Bubba, grabbed a 5 pound coffee can, and
followed the trail of clothing. When he finally spotted the top of
Joe's head, he hurled the can that direction and hollered, "You're
probably gonna need this!"
The can whizzed by Joe's ear
nearly scaring him to death in the dark underbrush, as well as
almost making him lose his balance! "Oh, son-of-a-gun, Larry! Can't
a man have a little privacy? This is no time to be throwing stuff
at me, and it darn near smacked me in the head. What the! What, a
coffee can? Are you crazy or something?"
"Just relax and pipe down! I
keep a roll of toilet paper in that coffee can so I'm always
prepared. Figured you could use it about now," snickered Larry as
tears ran down his cheeks yet again.
Finally they were headed
back to the shack with Joe begging Larry not to tell the others
about his lock dilemma. He knew he'd never hear the end of it once
he was exposed, and this group of fellas would be relentless. After
miles of bantering, begging, and plea-bargaining, Larry finally
promised to keep his mouth shut.
All seemed to be going well
once they rejoined the group at the shack. The conversation drifted
from one subject to another, and Joe was finally convinced that
Larry truly was going to keep his word. He breathed a huge sigh of
relief as he entered the bathroom to shower. He had just stepped
under the soothing warm water when he heard a deafening explosion of
laughter that would rattle the rafters. He'd been had, and had
bad! Joe could hear the smart
remarks through the paper-thin walls and wanted to simply vanish;
but there wasn't even a window to use as an escape route. In a
matter of hours he'd gone from being locked in a deer stand, to
being trapped in the john.
At last report Joe and
Larry, who happen to be brothers-in-law, were still on speaking
terms. Little more needs to be said, except the deer lease gang
seems to have a passion for nicknames, and Joe returned home with a
new one. He's now known as The High Lonesome
Footnote: This is a true
story, although names have been changed to protect Locksmith from