By Otha Barham / outdoors editor
The Meridian Star
If there are deer hunters who aren't superstitious in at least some teeny tiny way, they are staying awfully quiet; so quiet that I have not discovered any. Now I consider myself intellectually free of superstition and yet I find myself doing things that superstitious persons do.
So if I, the totally rational one, the proponent of the facts, can slip into this irrational behavior, it stands to my reasoning that anyone (and maybe everyone) else can as well. "Ah!", you say. "You just want to justify your strange quirks by implicating everyone else." Let's not look too deeply into this, okay? I have my rationalizations and you have yours.
What got me to thinking about superstitions was some deer camp talk about how many big bucks I and others had bagged on the dates of December 29 through January 2 throughout my years of pursuing deer. One of those five days on the calendar appears so frequently in my hunting log of harvested deer, especially big bucks, that I always keep an eye on the post-Christmas hunt.
I am convinced these are days of destiny. Superstition? I don't know. But I don't miss many days deer hunting around New Year's Day.
Another thing I have noticed is that if I keep reloading the same old rifle cartridge into my gun every time I go to my deer stand, the thing turns green with corrosion and gets scratched up and just in general looks impotent. I know that inside the primer and powder and bullet are all well and happy, but the chamber-worn shell just might be hexing me. And I am not about to take a chance that the hex will continue. So out it goes, and into my rifle goes a shiny, new, potent round; one with no chance of casting a spell on my hunt.
My brother always maintained that seeing a rabbit along the road before daylight on the way to a hunting or fishing destination is good luck. I have resisted his assertion, but I catch myself smiling when one of the little bunnies dashes in front of my headlights. And I start feeling positive about the rewards ahead.
Quite often black cats cross the road ahead of my vehicle. Too often my five a.m. trips to the deer woods coincide with late night prowlings by black cats and they have never seen a road they won't rush to cross. Everyone knows this is a major hex. Black cats have all the right things for casting spells: glaring yellow eyes with narrow slits; shiny, slick black fur; silent footfalls; sneaky personality.
My wife showed me years ago how to negate the certain doom promulgated by a black cat that crosses the road ahead of you. Lurey deals with the black cat problem by quickly touching the tip of her index finger to her tongue and making a big X in the air between herself and the cat's crossing point. When she is not along, I perform the curative ritual. I even do it when she is riding with me if she doesn't see the cat and I'm not sure she has ever seen my subtle X-ing. Anyway, I try to never let her see me do it. She might think I am superstitious.
Problems arise in this hex abatement maneuver however. Once in the pre-dawn darkness a black cat streaked across the blacktop ahead just a few miles before I reached the deer woods. I was running a bit late, was meeting another car on the road and was in a curve. In my haste to slash the X with my moistened finger before I crossed the path of the black streak, I nearly lost control of the steering wheel. But I got that sucker X'd out before it condemned me.
And then I got to thinking. I almost ran over that cat, just barely missing it with my left front tire. What happens if you run over a black cat before you can X him out? Does running over it substitute for the Xing? Also would I have to run over the cat nine times as a requirement? I'll ask Lurey to enlighten me. I need to know. It could affect my deer hunting.