Wayne Gretsky, the hockey great, once talked about being "in the zone." To him that meant he could see in his mind's eye where the puck was going, even before he hit it with his stick. My zone came a couple of weeks ago while hunting in North Dakota with both boys and an old college roommate. My old roommate and I are well into the Social Security age, ahead of the Baby Boomers by a few years, while my sons are still hard chargers.
We had driven 14 hours to Wishek, N.D., only to clip a little deer 10 miles from our destination. The eldest son was the driver, and he suggested that maybe somebody else wanted to drive. We allowed as to how the odds of him not hitting a second deer in the next 10 miles were probably pretty high, so he better just stay behind the wheel.
We arrived at the small town of Wishek, which boasts 1,200 people. With the beginning of the pheasant season, the town fills with bird dogs, hunters in orange, and a lot of anticipation. We were not disappointed, as there seemed to be birds everywhere.
On the first day, the oldest son limited out in less than an hour and a half and had to be the guide for the rest of the day, while the other three of us continued seeking birds.
On day two, both boys had their limit in the morning and were delegated to driving the two old timers around, looking for some wily ring-neck pheasant. We stopped at a draw filled with cattails and my partner and I stood blocking the area; translated, blocking the area really means little walking. Both sons waded into the cattails, soaking their boots and scaring every pheasant within a couple of square miles.
My reputation for missing easy shots had not gone unnoticed by the rest of the hunting crew, as they kept asking me if I had enough shells. At this particular moment, three roosters came out, one to my right, one straight ahead, and one to the left. By some miracle of divine intervention, I managed to bag all three birds, putting on a shooting display that I'm sure Annie Oakley would have made and been proud of. In my 13-second moment, my limit was filled. I blew the smoke out of the end of my gun like the movies, looked at my watch, and said, "Why, it's â€˜High Noon.' Gary Cooper must be back in town or, on second thought, it is probably like the scene from â€˜Shane' where Alan Ladd walks into the saloon and has a major shootout."
By now the rest of the group was groaning and saying, "We are going to have to listen to this for the rest of the day."
A short time later, my old roommate and I were walking together, and he commented, "It's good to kick the young boys' rear once in awhile, isn't it?" I know it felt good to me.