Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Whole Earth Catalog

I used to read Whole Earth Catalog religiously.

I don't know what the catalog has evolved into, but I'd like to get back to that Seventies frame of mind. Read and re-read something like the Whole Earth Catalog. Find something to try.

I remember an article about shooting deer at a salt lick. Written by a Native American. Don't remember the tribe. He put out a salt lick, and he'd go down there and wait for the deer to come. Pretty soon, one of the deer would let him know it was ready to die, and that's the one he would shoot.

I was living in Arkansas at the time. The Corporation For Public Broadcasting gave some grants out to public television stations to build news and documentary teams, and the station in Conway, Arkansas, hired me and a friend to buy the equipment and make some documentaries to get them started.

I was editing some film one afternoon. The TV was on in the editing room, and a game commission film about deer hunting was running. They had drugged an old buck, and he staggered around in a clearing, until the hunter and the camera walked up on him and the hunter shot him. Something about that film pissed me off.

So, I spent a few weekends that year, creeping through the woods of Arkansas and Texas, with whatever reluctant cameraman I could drag along, "still hunting" whitetail deer. Still hunting doesn't mean sitting in a blind or a tree, of course. It means stealthily approaching a deer on foot, until you get close enough to shoot it. It's hard for one person to do. For two people, lugging a camera and recorder, it's impossible. I saw one deer. Saw him out of the corner of my eye as he tip-toed away, one big eye fixed on me. When I tried to turn, he was gone.

The salt lick seemed like a reasonable compromise.

I bought a block of salt, and my wife and I drove up to the Buffalo River and found a clearing with a stream running through it. I put the block of salt out by the stream. The next weekend, we drove up, spent the night in a little motel cabin. We heard wolves, howling in the night, cooked oatmeal in the room on a camp stove before dawn.

We went down to the salt lick. We set up the camera and listened to the wolves while we waited for the deer to come down to the stream and tell us which one was ready to die.

1 comment:

quinn the eskimo said...

Maybe they were waiting for one of you to tell them YOU were ready.