I broke my usual rule to opt out of Black Friday shopping. I broke my rule because it was a matter of survival. I bought $50.04 worth of hunter orange today to protect my kith and kin.
Up here on the Island, we are at the height of deer hunting season. This means dozens of people are in the woods with guns at any hour of the day, prowling around for animals to shoot. As everyone in this house is an animal and most of the Island is woods, the past few days have been ever-so-slightly tense — and it ain’t because we’ve been playing 6 hours of Yahtzee every day. Mom spoke to the sheriff at the general store last week and the conversation centered around one main idea: this week, if you leave your house without dressing in head-to-toe hunter orange, you’re probably going to get shot.
When Mom reported this, many pairs of eyebrows were raised. We’ve been on the Island at all times of the year for decades and we’ve never been on such high alert. Apparently, there are way more people hunting this year than ever and apparently, my family has been taking our lives in our hands for years, taking out the garbage, walking to the car, opening a window, etc., in normal-people clothes.
Last night, everyone at the house under 40 went out to Nelsen’s for carousing. Nelsen’s Hall is the ale house on Main Road where you can get a bucket of Maker’s Mark for three dollars. We shot pool, we played songs on the juke, we laughed till our sides hurt, and we made sure to check with some locals on the whole hunter orange thing. We simply didn’t believe the sheriff that it was that dangerous outside.
We asked the bartender first. She was beautiful; pleasantly plump, with the creamy skin one can only achieve by being fed cheese curds from infancy. She looked at us all blankly.
“Why do you want to be outside? It’s winter.”
We didn’t end up asking anyone else.
Today, I stopped by the mercantile and I bought fifty bucks worth of neon orange stuff: a vest, a sweatshirt, some duct tape, two hats, and a kerchief that was so stiff you could use it as a bone saw in a pinch. Better safe than shot, I say.
Ah, I forgot: I bought something else, too.
Kristina and I stopped by Fisk’s restaurant to inquire about the fish dinner tonight and we spied two freshly baked pies cooling on a shelf. Pumpkin! They were clearly not on offer for sale, but we asked if we could buy a whole one, anyway. Sure, they said, twelve bucks. We forked over the cash and promised to bring back the pie tin when the pie was gone. That means I actually spend $62.04 on Black Friday, but for survival and pie, I shall make exceptions.
*Blaze Orange is a photographic coffee table book full of timeless images of the Whitetail Deer gun hunting season in Wisconsin. Wisconsin deer hunting is all about family. Families raise their children safely into the sport of hunting which is filled with traditions. Wisconsin’s Whitetail Deer gun season is 9 days long and requires hunters to wear Blaze Orange for safety. The season in closely monitored by the Wisconsin DNR. The DNR expects more than 600,000 hunters, about 10% of the state’s population, to take to the Wisconsin woods and fields next weekend. Wisconsin deer hunting runs deep with heritage for many Wisconsinites as the deer season here has an almost cult-like following.