Coughing up an opportunity

I went hunting with Doc Holliday on Thanksgiving.
Well, it wasn’t really Doc, but he sounded pretty close.
And, honestly, it wasn’t really a “he,” it was “me” but the deep lung attacks that brought on a cough that seemed to come from someone else.
I’d be walking in ninja-mode, navigating tricky brush on the outskirts of muskegs with the greatest of delicacy, and from the depth of my lungs came a tickle and uncontrollable hack. It was a convulsion that could not be muffled in my sleeve.
And yeah, that’s gross because yeah, it is gross, but you know how it is when you’ve got the upper respiratory distress that is dormant 90 percent of your day, but makes that 10 percent miserable.
On a day like Thanksgiving you forget to be thankful for things like not hacking. You want to be able to utilize stealth to get near a deer that will go nicely in the freezer, but first comes the tickle and then it’s over. If there was buck in the general vicinity, the violent puking of air tips it off.
Anyway, I had hoped to go to Thanksgiving dinner with a great story of a perfect stalk, perfect shot, then a deer piggy-back ride back to the truck. I’d tell it to the twenty other people who were eating turkey, some of whom had been on their own Thanksgiving morning hunts. But no. All I had was an uninteresting story of walking, sitting and calling for hours. I did find a shed from a 4-point buck. So I was in the right spot, just, you know, a year late.
So I listened to stories as I usually do. One poor guy had to hear variations of the same “warning shot” joke about the fork he shot at and missed that morning. Another told stories about a stubborn bear that hung around a lodge up north. It never learned to fish, so it nightly visited the trash to gorge on its favorite dishes of diapers and citrus fruit peels, hopefully to cleanse his palate.
I ate too much, which is hardly worth typing because everyone does, and woke up the next morning ready for redemption.
The previous two years I had bagged a buck on Black Friday, both at the same spot. Thanks to snow I wasn’t able to get there, but my buddy Abe had a plan. One of us usually has a plan when we hunt together, but of all the times we’ve hunted, only the first time did either of us even see a buck. On the drive home after six hours of walking we saw a little fork and I shot it.
This time we didn’t walk for six hours, but we did walk for six miles. About halfway through our day we came to a nice spur off a spur, off a spur, off a spur, off the main road. Abe asked if I wanted the muskeg or what was left of a road that had been completely washed out. I chose the muskeg.
I ninja-ed my way to the edge, reached for my deer call, thought, “here we go” and heard a crack.
Abe had a buck.I felt a tickle and coughed excitement and envy.

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