I’m a music head. So it’s no surprise that a number of tunes have played a big role in my hunting life. Some songs sync up with great memories, some not so great, but they always add to whatever experience I associate them with.
It’s appropriate, then, that my first hunt has a song attached to it—although not really in a good way. I was on a New Mexico hunt for mule deer, and on the second day, I shot a buck at 200 yards. I ran up the hill to where it had fallen, and was relieved to find it already stone still. I’d spent months wondering how I’d react to this moment, and while the guide left to get the truck, I sat in the dirt with this still-warm animal trying to sort through what I was feeling.
But when the truck roared up behind me, quiet time was over. The guide swung open the doors of the cab, hit the cd player, and blasted Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust.
Now, I love Queen. Under Pressure is a personal favorite, and like any good former 90’s high schooler, I never miss the Wayne’s World head-banging cue in Bohemian Rhapsody. But there’s a time and a place for Freddie Mercury’s classic rock achievements, and that quiet field in New Mexico was not one of them.
Since then, I’ve picked up a lot of other song-hunt associations. I sometimes play this game where I come up with the most appropriate song for whatever’s going on around me. Like, on a duck hunt with a jerk of a guide who was mean to his dog and ignored everything I said, I cued up Carole King’s Smackwater Jack (You can’t talk to a man with a shotgun in his hand). And on a pronghorn hunt, when I got lost driving the guide’s truck around a network of dirt roads and ended up, a girl from Manhattan, alone and fending for myself on the windswept plains of Wyoming (for all of 5 minutes) it was hard to keep Bon Jovi’s Dead or Alive at bay (I’ll ride all night to get back home / ‘Cause I’m a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride…). I’m originally from Jersey and drive a little Jetta, so you really can’t blame me.
But my best song-hunt association to date came in the spring of 2006, when I was back in New Mexico on a turkey hunt with the folks from Women in the Outdoors Magazine. Editor Karen Lee is a music head too, and on the drive to the lodge we talked about favorite songs, with Seals and Crofts’ Summer Breeze topping the list that particular afternoon.
But the actual association I’m thinking about came on the last day of the hunt. I was in this awesome spot, where a natural arrangement of short trees and boulders created the perfect place to sit—back rest, gun rest—it was made to order. I settled in and after awhile realized I couldn’t get Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush out of my head (I was hoping for replacement when the sun burst through the sky…). I believe there’s a reason a certain song comes to mind at a certain time, but I couldn’t figure out why it showed up then.
No bird that hunt, but for whatever reason, that afternoon in that spot with that song lives in my memory as one of my most at-home times in the field. Not that it’s a particularly happy song that gave a sense of all being right with the world. It just gave me a sense of things being significant. Maybe that’s all I needed at the time.
Anyway, if you have any song-hunt associations of your own, or just want to talk about your favorite tunes, I’d be very curious to hear what you’re into. –K.H.