When extended family comes to visit, I’m not one to spare the good stuff. “Hey, wanna grill a woodchuck?” I asked my brother-in-law as we were chipping golf balls around the yard one evening. Brock is not one to back down from a challenge and he claims to know how to grill, so I fished the poorly packaged woodchuck out of my chest freezer and plopped it on the table. Silence filled the air as intrigue descended upon the crowd of young children gathered around.
The dark blob on the hillside caught my eye and I grabbed a pair of binoculars off the shelf to confirm what I already knew to be true. Standing there in my parent’s living room, I focused the bino’s on the dark spot but was disappointed to discover it to be a clump of grass. While wallowing in my misfortune, a big, fat woodchuck crawled through the bottom of my field of view. How could one guy be so lucky? The hunt was on.
By the time I grabbed the old open sighted Stevens .22 and had it loaded with three bullets (I always plan on a few misses), the woodchuck had moved to the base of the hill, slightly shielding me from view and providing an opportunity for me to close the distance to Hail Mary range. He suspected nothing but was about to experience everything.
This woodchuck had tormented me for weeks. Ever since I received the text that said a woodchuck had been spotted at the office, I’ve amounted to next to nothing. His stomping grounds were within sight of the window next to the printer, and I made an above average number of trips to it to see if I could catch Woody out basking in the sunlight. He was a wary critter – the type that make the hunt challenging and drives a guy insanely unproductive. Twice before he had avoided certain death, but not this time. Not this time.
Just the other day, my wife and I were sitting in the Woodstock, Vermont, Maplefields Convenience Store reliving a day spent together. She was beautiful, her glowing eyes staring back at mine while holding her fresh cup of coffee on the table between us. The moment hung in time until three older men sat down at the table next to us and began talking. “Well, the woodchuck has been out for two days straight now,” one man said to the other two. After overhearing that I was a mental disaster. Visions of hunting the little devils clouded my ability to carry on a conversation with my wife and my trigger finger started twitching uncontrollably with each passing vision.
Sometimes it all just comes together when you least expect it. As hard as I’ve tried, I have not been able to reconnect with the Chuck from last week’s story. He has not shown his face since I sent that bullet flying over his head. I’ve mowed shooting lanes around his hole and have kept a constant eye in his direction, but he hasn’t been cooperative. I have a feeling that he’s moved away…
So, there I was sitting in my office minding my own business when an employee informed me that Chuck (a different Chuck) had been spotted underneath one of the storage trailers out back behind the shop. He’s been seen quite a few times actually, and he had a beautiful color phase, not unlike that of a blond colored black bear from often seen out west. The only difference is that he’s a woodchuck, not a bear. Anyway, it turns out that it had been a rather close encounter and it gave me hope that I might have a chance to close the deal later that afternoon.