This article was first published May 10, 2019, at sportingclassicsdaily.com.
It was at my family’s annual campout during Oklahoma’s black powder season one year that I developed my disdain for the cold. The air mattress I’d been sharing with my oldest brother sprung a leak in the middle of the night and when we woke up he was practically on top of me.
“Hey, Kerry, do you mind rolling over a bit?”
“Ungh,” he grunted. “Which way?”
I guess he was cold, too.
But winter’s cold shoulder isn’t the only manifestation of Mother Nature’s mood swings I’ve learned to dislike. I’ve been drenched with Her tears and sweated through Her hot flashes, too. Less than ideal conditions, sure, but nothing that could keep me out of the woods or off the waters that I love. Not for long, anyway. In fact, those mood swings are but minor inconveniences compared to the bane of all outdoorsmen’s existence – the wind.
It’s the wind that we outdoorsmen well and truly despise. Wind not only makes liars of weathermen, it forces fishermen back to bed. And it frustrates hunters to no end.
Summer wind is miserable. There are afternoons in August when the south wind feels like an out-of-breath Labrador is sitting on your lap and panting in your face. And nothing ruins a fishing trip quicker than the wind. Whether it’s white capping waves on a lake or bouncing bobbers on a pond, a gale, or sometimes even a gust, is often the guilty party when live wells and stringers come up empty.
But winter winds are the worst. Tree stand hunters start second-guessing their decision making and mentally updating their wills when the wind howls in from the northwest. With wrist-thick branches whipping around like Double Dutch jump ropes and ancient oak trunks groaning like aged arthritics, other pastimes can seem pretty appealing. You know, things like swimming with Great Whites or skydiving without a parachute, maybe.
It’s not just the physical discomfort that makes me want to knock the teeth out of the wind. Like a kiss from Judas’ lips, the wind betrays me, conveying my scent straight to the nostrils of unsuspecting whitetail, whitetail all too eager to huff and puff and blow their houses down at me. Not satisfied with simple betrayal, the wind then carries news of the deer’s displeasure to every nook and cranny of the county.
On the rarest of occasions, though, the wind actually helps instead of hinders. I once had a cock pheasant get his directions mixed up and try to flush straight into a formidable west wind. The wind caught him like an infield pop fly and held him in the palm of its hand, presenting me with what amounted to a bench shot at a stationary target. As a penance for all of its previous transgressions, the wind offered me the gift of this one shot. I missed, though.
The blasted wind had blown my eyelids shut.