Now, before I go any further, let me just say that I'm totally in support of hunting. Everybody I know hunts, my mom hunts (she can hit a deer at a dead run at 800 yards, no joke...or she can red mist a squirrel off the hood of her car without scratching the paint [they eat the wiring and cause $$$ in damage]). Hunters are fine and people that hunt are fine. What isn't fine is that people with guns get aggressive when I'm trying to rollerski.
To be fair, I was at fault here (much as it pains me to admit it). You see, I was down in Eau Claire and I found myself without a blaze orange vest or jacket or anything. However, since I was rollerskiing basically within the township of Eau Claire, I figured I'd be OK, especially if I put on the lime green T-shirt from Grandma's marathon this year. Lime green is pretty far removed from deer hide brown (I do have a deer brown thermal shirt that I almost wore...if I had, I might be typing this with a hole in my chest).
So I put on the shiny lime green T-shirt that you see in the photo above and set out FROM THE CENTER OF TOWN out on the bike trail.
Now, it's been a long time, but refresh me on the rules, how far away from a road do you have to be before you can shoot at something? How far outside the city limits?
Well, things started to go wrong, I guess, when I started to feel good and decided to do a 3 hour ski instead of just two. So I was going along and going along and going along and I kind of got into that zen-like skier state where you don't feel anything but adrenaline rushes and the occasional hunger pain, when, all of a sudden, I was kind of OUT of the city. Well, I had a look around and thought it over and decided that since I was still within sight of a pretty major highway, nobody should be hunting, so I kept going.
About ten minutes after having thought this, however, I came to an intersection that had three cars parked by the side of the road, and looking up I noticed three hunters striding through the woods.
Now, first of all, seriously, does anybody ever GET anything by wandering around? I guess a lot of people like to do big ridiculous "drives" (ten hunters or so banging pots and pans as they walk along and try to drive the deer towards the guy sitting in a tree farther down the line...and forgetting that the basic premise of this idea puts the deer BETWEEN themselves and the eventual shooter...always hated that). But isn't it better to just get up before the sunrise, sit next to an obvious deer trail (one that you've been dropping corn on for the last 10 months) and just wait for the deer to come by? Who walks around in random corn fields?
Well, anyway, I looked up and felt a pretty nasty, icy chill as I noticed all three of these guys were staring at me. Suddenly that blaze Lime seemed woefully inadequate. Sure, I wasn't wearing the colors of the enemy, but I wasn't wearing the colors of the good guys either now was I?
So I let out a big, "Hello!" with the hope that the bloodlust hadn't made these guys forget that deer can't talk. And they replied with, "Skier...we're HUNTING here" in a voice that implied that they were none too happy with me.
Well, I wasn't in the mood for a philosophical conversation, so I just kept on trucking and then only realized later what a bad idea it was since I was going to have to come back by these jokers in another half hour or so (ample time for them to forget that I had ever passed). I took another look to the left and was a little bit reassured by the fact that there was a major highway over there about two hundred yards away, plus the fact that there was an occasional house gave me hope that these dudes would "know their target" and not shoot in the direction of residential areas or cars, but I still kind of thought it was going to be the end of me.
In moments like that, as your skiing along, you start to imagine scenarios in which you get shot but only wounded and you wonder if the jokers who did it would be willing to admit their error and take you to a hospital, or if they'd just cut their losses and finish you off (none of that came to pass...but still).
Fortunately when I got back to the intersection the cars were gone (maybe they went someplace where there was a chance in hell they'd actually see an ANIMAL and not PEOPLE ON A PUBLIC TRAIL!
So I'm off to Gander Mountain to buy a reflective Blaze orange vest with a siren and a CB radio on it (as well as some phosphorescent flashing lights).
I suppose in hindsight it wasn't THAT close a run-in, but it wasn't that much fun at the time either...Sigh...well, at least in WI they don't constantly nag about seeing your ID when you try to order a frickin' beer...I like THAT!