So there we were…all 13 of us gathered at my parent’s house last weekend for a combination Mother’s Day and birthday bash. It was a beautiful day – the temperatures hovered in the mid 70’s and there was ample sunshine. It was woodchuck weather if there ever was any.
The party really started half way through dinner when the wily rodent poked his head up from his freshly excavated lair. There is something about a sunlit woodchuck that invokes the desire to kill and the conversation quickly shifted from grilled chicken to fresh woodchuck. Farmer Wayne would be disappointed if he broke his hay wagon in a woodchuck hole and it was obvious something needed to be done. His distance from the house was similar to a challenging par three on the local golf course and the ensuing stalk would remind me that my distance game is good but my short game could use some real work.
I grabbed my Dad’s bow along with three arrows and crawled around the west side of the barn so I could make an approach from behind the log pile. Mr. Woodchuck was sunning himself about 100 yards from the pile but was at the base of a hill that provided a nice backdrop to collect errant arrows. I covered the open terrain from the barn to the wood pile but it wasn’t without its tense moments. He spotted me and headed for his hole but hung up on top long enough for me to get behind cover.
I judged the range to be about 100 yards and drew back for the first shot. Now, I’ve only shot Dad’s bow a few times so the whole endeavor was based on a set of assumptions and estimated guesses – kind of like my entire life. His draw length is a couple inches shorter than mine but I was able to find his 50-yard pin through the peep site. I centered the pin on a tree halfway up the mountain in the distance and touched the release. It was a glorious few seconds while that arrow sailed towards Chuck, but he only flinched slightly and I knew the shot was off. The line was good but I lost sight of the arrow somewhere between the bow, the woodchuck and halfway up the mountain, so I couldn’t tell how far off I was.
Not one to be deterred by failure, especially while still holding two arrows, I contemplated my next move. It was at this point that I realized Mr. Woodchuck couldn’t see me all that well because the sun was directly at my back, so I decided to advance on his position by walking straight at him in the open field. I closed the gap to approximately 80 yards and nocked another arrow. Aiming slightly lower on the mountain with the 50 yard pin I let another arrow fly. This time his reaction indicated a little more concern, but he went back to sunning himself and I knew I missed.
With only one arrow left, I threw all caution to the wind and walked straight toward him. At 60 yards he was still holding steady so I decided to do the same. With the 50 yard pin slightly above his head I released my third and final arrow. This time the arrow was close and he dove for cover, but I had clearly missed. Out of ammo and with my adversary holed up, I walked toward his den to retrieve my arrows. Instinct took over and I slowed as I approached his cave. When I could see over the fresh mound of dirt I saw his dumb little buck-toothed face staring back at me. For a brief moment, time stood still and we intently studied each other. He was undoubtedly surprised by the sight of my pale legs (first time in shorts this year) and I couldn't believe he was just sitting there staring at me! If I’d had a shovel I could have whacked him. But I didn’t and I was out of arrows. Disgusted at my luck I finally moved and he scurried to safety deep underground.
I located all three arrows on the hillside above him and took up an elevated position 5 yards to the east of his hole. At this point Josh had had enough of watching from inside the house so he walked out and joined me on stand. Together we waited.
Mr. Woodchuck eventually poked his head up from safety and scouted the area to the west where danger had a history. Five yards away in the opposite direction Josh and I were positioned perfectly. I drew Dad’s bow back and with celebratory fireworks going off in my head I released again.
There’s not much I can really say except that I’ve always known my short game needs work. As the sayings go, “It’s not how you drive, it’s how you arrive,” and “Drive for show, putt for dough.” Missing that five yard shot is equivalent to three putting a par five, a feeling I know all too well. The good news is that golf season is just getting underway and Chuck will only be getting fatter. There’ll be plenty of time to work on my short game. At least, in the meantime, it will give me a goal to shoot for until deer season rolls around.
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