Dear Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife:

Here's my hunting report you asked for. And just so you know, I've heard some ruffians grumbling about your new "mandatory reporting of hunter harvest and effort" for everyone who buys a tag. They're all, "Blah blah blah, black helicopters, Big Brother, feds, wiretaps and now this." I think the word "mandatory" is what's setting them off. You might tone that down a smidge.

Personally, I appreciate your interest. It's more or less mandatory for me to endure listening to other people's hunting stories - or reports of harvest and effort, as you like to call them - so I think it's awful decent of you to share the burden.

As far as my own hunting efforts are concerned, don't go adjusting your deer population estimates on my account. I did see a few bucks, but never filled my tag. There was a real nice four-point, but it was hiding in the back of somebody else's pickup and they drove off before I could finish stalking it. I must have stepped on a twig. Or that dinger thing.

Saw another nice buck one evening near the road, so I paused to admire it. Wasn't on the hunt, as it was a couple days before my season. Just reminding myself what antlers look like, you know. He sure was calm. Didn't even flick an ear.

I believe you know this deer, Fish & Wildlife, as my hunting cohort later pointed out some peculiar aspects of this sighting and checked later to find boot prints and saplings cleared to accommodate the decoy. Still, an awfully nice looking specimen. Even if he was styrofoam.

And then that snowstorm. What a hoot that was. Got real close to nature, as nature kept piling up on the wall tent roof, making it sag down to within inches of my nose until I'd get up to clear snow off the roof. Fun.

After the snow, I took to wearing my waterproof Bogs boots, which are warm and great, except for a pinhole leak in the left sole. That makes a wheezing, squeaky noise every time you take a step, which hampered my attempt to creep through the woods like a ninja. Yeah. I sounded like a pet's chew toy every other step.

And I'm beginning to wonder about hunting with that Hiram Rooper, ODFW. He was in the Marines, you see. And I was not. I suspect he feels sorry for me that I missed out on basic training, and tries to recreate the experience by leading me through survival maneuvers every hunting season. This year we repelled down a drainage even deer won't walk through. There was no sign any deer had ever set hoof there. I needed ice-climbing crampons for that mission, not squeaky rubber boots.

Then I poured coffee on my leg one morning. Snow all around, freezing temperatures and I managed somehow to tip the thermos and give myself a second-degree burn. Those polypropylene longjohns sure hold the heat in, ODFW. Yes they do.

So far, a lot of effort and no harvest. But thanks for asking, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. Working with all this data, I'm sure we can improve everyone's hunting experience. Which reminds me. There will be no more chili nights while staying in a wall tent with the Rooper brothers. The aftermath is tremendous.

But I've still got that elk tag. And if that fails, I suppose I can stomach another year of veggie burgers.

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