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Last week I came home from work, and my dad was excited. He wanted to tell me that Levi, my 5-month-old son, picked up a fishing rod for the first time.
When I was about six months pregnant, my dad went out and bought two little tiny fishing rods, one with a spinning reel and bait casting reel. He was so proud Levi chose the bait cast reel, unlike his mom who prefers the spinning reel.
“I knew he would pick that one,” he said. “I’m going to teach you how to cast that one so you don’t get it hung up on everything like your mama,” he told Levi.
Casting has never been one of my strong suits even though I have been fishing with my dad since I was old enough to remember.
My dad has always been an avid outdoorsman. Most of my life, he has been a fisherman, and when I was in high school he became more involved in hunting.
The life of an avid outdoorsman can be difficult for a young girl. When my dad and his friends took all the kids fishing, I was the only girl, so they actually had to find me a restroom facility, as opposed to just going to the edge of the woods.
But we always had good time fishing, whether it was at Kerr Lake, Jordan Lake, Falls Lake or the beach. My little sister would go, too, but she usually wasn’t that interested in fishing—she preferred to torture me.
At the beach, I would catch a little croaker, I would keep it in a bucket and watch it swim around. If I had to leave for a minute, she would go and dump the fish onto the sand. Of course, my new pet was dead, and I would cry until my daddy caught another for me.
She was about 3 or 4, which would have made me 8 or 9. We laugh about it now because she rescues everything, and wouldn’t think of hurting a flea.
I remember all of the fishing excursions fondly, but the hunting was a different story. I never went hunting with my dad. I was a senior in high school when he started really getting serious about it.
He started off deer hunting with a rifle, then got into the bow and arrow. With his bow came a lovely plastic deer—with a target on his tummy. The target was placed in his major “kill zones.”
The deer hung out in our back yard for a couple of years. My mom even dressed him like a reindeer for Christmas so he wouldn’t look so out of place. Bless his heart.
After a few kills, our freezer began to fill up with meat. One night my mom announced she read deer meat was very healthy, so she was going to prepare some for dinner. She chose some of the ground deer. We would be having “deer-ghetti,” or spaghetti with deer meat.
I was upstairs doing my homework when I noticed a noxious odor coming up through the vent. Holding my nose, I went to investigate the source.
When I arrived in the kitchen I saw my mom standing 5 feet away from the stove. She had an oven mitt on one hand, which she was using to cover her face, and the other hand held the spatula that she was using to poke at the cooking “deer-ghetti.”
“What is that nasty smell?” I asked gagging.
“It’s your nasty dinner,” she said. “I’m not eating that crap.”
That was her one and only experience with cooking undomesticated meat. If she didn’t buy it at Harris Teeter or Food Lion, she didn’t cook it.
Dad got so much into hunting for a while that he even used a special body wash before he went into the woods. I guess it was important to mask your human smell, so he had this shampoo that smelled like grass and dirt. It even contained doe urine for a maximum masking effect. My mom and sister called it “the doe urine shampoo.”
I had been away at college when the doe urine shampoo appeared, and no one was there when I came home for the weekend.
I was going out to meet my friends, jumped in the shower and saw the blue bottle with the trees and jumping deer on it. It looked fresh. It looked woodsy. Why not try it?
I lathered up, rinsed and jumped out of the shower. The minute I jumped I out, I didn’t feel so fresh or clean. Instead I felt earthy, like I had pieces of the earth on me. I smelled like dirt and something else I couldn’t place.
But I couldn’t—I just showered. I just figured it was imagination and went on about my business.
As I was about to walk out the door to meet my friends, my mom and sister were coming in. “You smell like an earthworm,” my sister said.
My mom started laughing immediately. “You didn’t use the shampoo with the deer on it did you?”
After I realized my mistake, I had to shower again. I couldn’t go out smelling like an earthworm.
Growing up the daughter of an outdoorsman has been fun and challenging. But more than that, it has been memorable. I look forward to my dad and I taking my son fishing.
Hunting, however, is not allowed. He’ll never have to worry about me cooking deer-ghetti or having “doe-urine” shampoo lying around. He may want to avoid the pink bath and body works stuff though.
RENEE SLOAN is a staff writer and page designer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.