I love stuff. Especially when the stuff is associated with a great memory. Matchbooks, coasters, airline tickets, pictures—I’m a shameless pack rat when it comes to remembering anything from a fun movie to a great trip. Since some of my favorite memories are from hunts, I have a lot of personal prizes from the field. Not in the sense of trophy mounts, but quieter prizes, like the spent shell from the first animal I killed, or a pebble from the most perfect turkey hunting spot I ever found.
One of my all time favorite possessions is this “autographed” shed. I was on an NRA Women on Target hunt for antelope in Wyoming< last September, and at one point, the guide and I set off by ourselves to see if a herd we’d been keeping an eye on was visible beyond a nearby rise. After a brief trek through the rolling scrub, we got to the edge of the drop-off, glassed what turned out to be an antelope-free landscape, and decided to go back.
As we turned, I spotted a white object perfectly centered on the peak of a hill to my left. The clouds parted, the angels sang, and a shaft of divine light focused the full force of heaven on that square foot of Wyoming, revealing a gleaming shed. I humbly stepped into the light, picked up the shed, and showed it to the guide. He was less impressed, but nothing was going to ruin my sense of discovery, and I carted it back to show the other women.
That was the last day of the hunt, and that evening back in Glenrock, I brought the shed and a sharpie to the table and asked everyone on the hunt to sign it. So one side of the shed is clean, bleached white, and the other displays all their names.
Of course, I had to get the shed back home to New York, and at the time airport security had just been tightened to exclude things like my Pert Plus from my carry-on. The shed absolutely couldn’t fit in my checked bag, so I put it in my shoulder bag and hoped for the best.
Before I even got to the security scanner, I’d already been relieved of my travel toothpaste. But the shed was still in my bag, which I watched disappear down the conveyor belt and into the machine to be displayed for the employee watching the monitor. When my bag came onto his screen, he stopped the belt, leaned in a little closer, looked at me and said, “Eight-pointer? Cool.” Thus deprived of my dangerous Sensodyne, and still in possession of my horns that had evolved in nature as an instrument of combat, I boarded the plane for home, where my autographed shed now sits on my mantle.
Even non-pack rats must have a least one memento from a great hunt—what’s your favorite? –K.H.