There Once Was A Man Named Small

Guest blogger Dan Small, who produces Outdoor Wisconsin for Milwaukee Public Television and hosts Dan Small Outdoors Radio, and does so many other things in the outdoors that the list is longer than two arms, pops into The WON here with his tip for passing time in a tree stand or blind. The guy makes up some quite witty and sometimes a little bawdy (imagine that) limericks. With permission from Dan, we reprint his witty blog post from Dan Small Outdoors and encourage you to check out his blog.

Strange things can happen when you spend nine days in a tree stand. Add a month or more of bowhunting before and after gun season, not to mention 10 days of muzzleloader season, and a guy is likely to go bonkers.

Especially on sunny days, when shadows play tricks with your eyes; or on dreary, overcast days, when time seems to stand still; or on any day when you see more squirrels, turkeys and other hunters than deer.

After enough deer-less hours, almost every hunter’s mind starts to wander. You might try to recall all the deer you have killed, or guess which direction the next one will come from. Some guys replay last week’s football game, or imagine a wife or girlfriend in a seductive pose.

Me, I make up limericks.

Don’t ask me why. Maybe I’m nuts, but it passes the time and keeps me alert, as I watch for deer and search for new rhymes.

Here are a few from a recent deer season. Did I get a deer? Can’t you tell?

Too Long in a Tree

When you sit way too long in a tree,
Strange things you will hear and you’ll see.
Sit through snow and through rain,
It’ll mess with your brain,
And you’ll start to go crazy – like me!

I’m always amazed at how many different critters there are in the woods. When I hunted up north, I routinely saw ermine – weasels in their white winter coats – streaking through brown brushpiles like fuzzy little snakes on steroids, and shrikes hovering low over meadows trying to catch voles. Once, a coyote trotted in and bedded down 50 yards from my tree. I figured he would spook any deer that came by, so I waved my hand and he took off. Another time, a goshawk landed in a nearby tree and stayed for an hour.

Elsewhere in Wisconsin, the critter parade is more mundane. And there’s always a chance some foolhardy hiker will blunder past you, heedless of the season or its danger.

Critter Parade

While sitting alone in your oak,
The critter parade is a joke:
Four raccoons and a turkey,
While you chaw on beef jerky,
And a hiker who stops for a smoke.

Try as you might to keep focused on the task at hand, distractions are everywhere. Pay too much attention to a non-target species, as intriguing as it may be, and you’re likely to miss an opportunity at a deer. Who has not put his rifle down to pour a cup of coffee or take a bite of a sandwich, only to have a deer walk by at that instant?

Chickadee Challenge

Orange camouflage works like a charm
’Cause a chickadee lands on your arm.
Then he hops on your gun,
And you think, “This is fun,”
While a whitetail sneaks past you unharmed.

Some deer camps are notorious for partying all night, but who among us has not dozed off while hunting, even after a good night’s sleep? I met a guy who fell from a treestand and broke his neck because he couldn’t stay awake after walking all day. When I saw him, he had one of those halo braces screwed into his skull to immobilize his neck. It’s a good reason to wear a safety harness!

Asleep On the Job

You climb into your tree before dawn,
And you try all day long not to yawn.
If perchance you should snooze
From last night’s cards and booze,
When you ’wake all the deer may be gone.

My mind sometimes wanders far afield from deer hunting. For instance, to fishing, which has its own perils. Like losing a big trout.

Far and Fine

5X tippets are fine in diameter.
To fool trout, they’re a needed parameter.
When you lose a big fish,
You may swear, if you wish,
But just curse in iambic tetrameter.

Limericks are all about meter and rhyme. They are usually nonsensical, often bawdy, and most end with a twist of logic or humorous punch line. They’re pretty easy to write, once you get the hang of it. The trick is to arrange your words in a “bada BOOM, bada BOOM, bada BOOM” beat. In poetic jargon, this is called “anapestic trimeter” (An anapest is a “foot” of poetry consisting of two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed syllable: bada BOOM. And “trimeter” is a line of verse consisting of three feet.), but that phrase didn’t work here, so I exercised (or abused) poetic license.

This next one was actually the first of this bunch I came up with. In the woods I hunt, there’s a spruce grove where several great horned owls spend the day. Crows sometimes roust them out and chase them around raucously, but most of the time, they glide out at dusk and start hunting.

I hear them hooting just before dawn and again after sundown, as they lay plans for the night’s hunt. Their call is not as easy to imitate as the “Who cooks for you?” of a barred owl, but with practice, you can get them to respond. I had the main rhyme for this one for days, but couldn’t come up with anything that worked for lines three and four. Then one evening, the owls themselves gave it to me.

Whooo Goes There?

Great-horned owls are creatures crepuscular,
So they hunt when it’s dawn-ish and dusk-ular.
’Course they hunt all night, too,
Whoo-whoo-whoo-whoo, whoo-whoo-whoo,
Catching mice in sharp talons quite muscular.

One of the biggest challenges of limericks is keeping them G-rated. The last one I’ll make you suffer through is a true story. On a hunt up north a few years back, I had to make a pit stop, so I leaned my rifle against a nearby tree and did my business. I heard three shots, followed by hoofbeats, and looked up to see a doe and a small buck running toward me. I had a doe tag and would have preferred to shoot her, but she got past me before I could grab my rifle, so I killed the buck in mid leap with a lung shot at 15 yards. I felt bad about it, but the season was ending and we had no venison yet.

Call of the Wild

I once stopped on a hunt for my ease,
When a buck trotted past through the trees.
I was done in a trifle,
So I reached for my rifle
And shot him, my pants ’round my knees.

There are more where these came from, but enough, already! My wife wonders when it will end, this limerick rut that I’m in. Guess I’ll just have to quit before she has a fit. Oops, it’s started all over again!

Want to read more of Dan’s stuff? Check his blog here.

  • About The WON

    The Women's Outdoor News, aka The WON, features news, reviews and stories about women who are shooting, hunting, fishing and actively engaging in outdoor adventure. This publication is for women, by women.