Thoughts from Neal: Struck with Buck Fever

Lately, I’ve been putting all my eggs into a more serious basket for Midwestern Gentleman. Writing about men who truly embody the gritty nature of those who endure all four-seasons. However, with breaking news that my grandfather has once again rebelled against his retirement home. I’m bringing the heat with a hearty dose of a stubborn Yooper.

The one and only Grandpa Lou.

Grandpa Lou and one of 54 bucks over 54 years.
Grandpa Lou sitting right in the pocket. Also, him with one of his infamous 54 bucks over 54 years.

A few months ago, my mother called my brother and I in a pretty stifled state. She brought up that Lou had been telling a recurring story of a hunting trip. He was overheard by a nurse bragging to his retirement home patrons as if it happened this year, and boy, was his story the talk of the town. Thankfully, this call wasn’t nearly as terrifying as the time he attempted to practice with his cross-bow. Across the home is a field with an odd donkey he never really liked. One day he sat fiddling next to a group of women enjoying their lunch outside the retirement home. Pulling back his bow as strong as he could, he was unable to get his shots set and a few arrows were launched out like confetti. His then girlfriend Betty and her friends, bless their heart, walked away with all limbs intact.

Two of his arrows are currently MIA.

Anyway, back to the good stuff. As his tale goes, he up and left on a road trip to Colorado, Michigan for a backcountry bow-hunt. Now, for any of you geographical saavy notetakers, that’s neither a city in Michigan, nor a reality since his hunting days have been over for nearly a decade.

The hunt takes place over the course of four days, where he manages to shoot three small mule deer. He tracked each deer and dragged them to his non-existent Chevrolet truck. And, as any celebratory Yooper would do, he proceeds to polish off his victory with an ice cold beer and fish fry dinner at a local diner. In Colorado, Michigan. A place no map or GPS has ever heard of.

(In my mind, Grandpa Lou has either lost his mind or was secretly holding out that he’s in prime shape. Using his wheelchair as a luxury chauffeur.)

As he later reveals, all three of those mule deer were then stolen. Shit you not. One by a wolf and two by fellow hunters who happened to be following him. The DNR, according to him, didn’t do a damned thing to get him back his well deserved fresh venison. Just shameful.

What’s both a blessing and curse is that this isn’t really a true story. He never left his retirement home to go on a hunt. In fact, he most likely had a recurring dream from his long history of 54 years of shooting a buck. That, too, is not a fact-checked theory. But what I love is he’s able to still keep a vivid mind that allows him to experience something he’s lived for year after year.

As someone who writes often about the men who embody the Midwest, this only reiterates why this place is so special. Even with his dementia, he’s living out his annual hunting days with a mind that allows it. Opening day is engrained in his mind so much that he makes an effort to either dream up a hunting trip, or find a way to rebel against the establishment.

So now we reach last week….

Grandpa got himself a new scooter. A high-powered machine dolled up with four wheels of freedom. With that freedom, he has now been caught twice in the last few weeks trying to break free to get out to camp. The first time he was seen rolling down the highway with a pack of four men. Their group leader, at 92 years old, acted as the trip coordinator since he was the only one with a cell phone. He also made a break to leave town years prior but his scooter stalled out in the nearby Dollar Store a few miles down road — so, if anyone could deliver them to the promise land, it was him. They were quickly called in for holding up traffic and brought back just in time for the 3PM dinner.

(Oh, the luxury of having automated wheels. Keep in mind this is a 20 mile trip one way, with scooter’s that cruise up to speeds of over 3mph.)

His last breakaway attempt was a solo mission and his battery went dead in the parking lot. He was dressed in full hunting fatigue. He was seen trolling a suitcase behind him. God only knows what he packed in it.

It was later confirmed 3 adult diapers safely tucked away. Sadly, his mission failed once again. Thank you for the chuckle, Grandpa Lou.

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A special thanks to an easily shakeable mother for sharing. And, if anyone out there has a story they’d like to get off their chest, maybe a personal narrative you’d like to share, feel free to give us a shout at info@midwesterngentleman.com

And as always, continue to Live the Great Lakes Good Life.