Does a Bear Poop in the Woods?
Text & Photos by Nancy Anisfield
Reprinted by permission of Versatile Hunting Dog
Several years ago, my husband Terry and I hired a guide to do some grouse hunting in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. We hadn’t spent too much time in that area, so we figured he’d know the best covers. About an hour into the hunt, he asked me if I’d like to stop back in town. Not sure why he was asking, I assumed he didn’t realize that I was just fine pounding the thick brush and didn’t need a rest. An hour later, he asked again. I declined. He said I should let him know if I wanted to go back to town.
After the fifth inquiry, I said, “Why do you keep offering to take me back to town?”
Looking a little embarrassed he replied, “I thought you might need to go to the bathroom.”
With years of nose-to-tire squats behind the truck, I had to laugh. I thanked him for his consideration and told him I’d do just fine behind a tree or beside the pickup's bumper.
“I never guided a woman before,” was all he could say.
My standard practice is to make a grand public announcement that I’m GOING TO PEE BEHIND THE TRUCK. With the customary chaos of dogs being released or put away, guns being loaded or unloaded, birds being examined, odds are pretty good someone misses my proclamation. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that more people than could ever be intentionally curious have had a glimpse of what lies beneath my skivvies. (And I won’t go into what might be recorded on the trail cameras deer hunters have hidden around our property.) When nature calls – or coffee and orange juice work their magic – all bets are off in the privacy department.
My first big duck hunting experience on Lake Champlain is etched in memory and dehydration. It was cold. Very cold. We were going to be in a boat on the broad lake, far from solid ground upon which I could drop my drawers. In preparation, I avoided drinking anything after midnight the night before. Three seconds after legal shooting began, seven mallards jacked in towards the decoys. Terry and Mark, on my left and right, screamed “Take ‘em!” and we all jumped up, muzzles spitting fire in what seemed to me like still awfully dark out. Wedged between the guys, my shooting zone was a sliver of pie from 11:00 -1:00. I had a short over-under and whomping duck loads that knocked me against the boat’s gunnels with the same effect your kidneys feel when you bounce down a bumpy road after two beers and no pit stop.
Once things quieted down and the misses were analyzed, Mark pulled out a huge thermos of tea. With nowhere to offload liquid, I passed, watching them sip their steaming cups with what was probably the same expression Tank the German wirehaired pointer had gazing at the blueberry muffins.
I made several vows that morning, one of which was to forever more adhere to the mantra, “when a girl’s gotta go, a girl’s gonna go.” For guys, life is easier. Theirs is a lateral, one-sided affair when it comes to a potential audience. (Think about it and you’ll figure out what I mean.) For women, it’s more of a vertical, 360 degree viewable event. So I developed my tire-kissing strategy for privacy along with a few other tricks to make the enterprise more efficient.
First, always put some pre-folded t-paper in your back pocket. That’s much easier than packing a whole roll and fussing with it while balancing with your brush pants around your ankles. Second, be prepared for face licking when your dog comes to see what you’re doing at his eye level and decides it’s a perfect time to adore you. Third, if it’s really cold out and you’re wearing thermal layers, go commando. Getting everything organized and retucked is a race against time in terms of how fast your bum will freeze. That extra layer of nylon is highly overrated. Fourth and probably the most obvious, always look before you lower. Poison ivy, brambles, buggy creatures, and lord knows what else might be down there plotting revenge against humanity.
The fifth rule relates back to that duck boat on the broad lake. Modesty be damned. Bring your own privy (translation: empty coffee can). Everyone else in the boat can turn their backs and watch the sky while you tend to business. And for total happiness, throw in a Benelli auto, a position at one of the wide end shooting lanes, and your very own very big thermos of sweet hot tea.