Time has a way of sneaking up on you...

By PHIL DIFATTA,
Father Time is an unrelenting, unforgiving “fatherless child.” And because of him, I find myself writing more and more each week about outdoor safety. You'll meet Father Time someday … if you live long enough!

It wasn't always this way, though. You see, when I was younger (ever heard that before?), I thought I was “10 feet tall and bulletproof.” I'd climb a tall tree without a safety harness in a heartbeat, and I'd drag a deer uphill a half mile if necessary.  Now, I feel like I'm only three-feet tall, and probably a Nerf gun could put me down.

The bulletproof days are just a memory now, and a short memory at that. Father Time has taken care of that, and I realize that this old, gray dude ain't what he used to be. That's why I'm directing this Weekly Mistake mostly to my elder readers, both of 'em.

About four years ago in the mountains of Colorado, I realized my old butt simply could not climb as high as I used to. And most of the time, if you can't climb high, you can't get to the elk. I just didn't have the giddy-up-go anymore. 

Then there was the time only a couple of years ago I shot a really nice 9-point buck over in Lawrence County near the Pearl River. He had a good set of antlers, but more impressive was his body weight. Fortunately (for me, NOT for him), the buck ran about 45 yards and fell within feet of an old road that I could get to on my 4-wheeler.

“This is gonna be a piece of cake,” I thought. And it was … until I tried to get the monster onto the wheeler's rack. I pulled, and I tugged, and I strained, all to no avail. I climbed onto the wheeler and tried the old trick of pulling the buck over the fender onto the rack, but the only thing I managed was to strain was my bad knee and a couple of other things (if you're a guy, you know what I'm talking about). In short, I then realized  what muscles I used to have had abandoned my me. Man, a cold adult beverage sure would have helped. But they were all back at camp in the fridge. Thank goodness for cell phones and friends. I called a young friend who came to help.  

Other incidents have made me realize I simply can't do all the things I used to do. But I also realize that it's only gonna get worse if I don't do something about it … like get in shape. Maybe you should, too, especially if you're gettin' on up in age. After all, it would be kind of inconsequential if you killed the buck of a lifetime, only to have a heart attack and die while trying to drag it out. I can hear 'em now: “That sure was a great buck... Too bad he's not here to tell the tale.”

With that thought in mind, I think I'll bore you no more and get down on the floor. I'll start with a hundred push-ups (yeah, rigt) and then sit-ups. Then I'll get me a nice, cold adult beverage that'll help undo everything I've just done! But, seriously, if you don't have the stamina and strength you once had, even if you're still young, it won't hurt to get back into shape. Furthermore, it'll make a better hunter out of you.

Deer season ends Feb. 15 in Mississippi's Southeast Zone, so you still have time to get out and get you a big one. Oh, and when you go, hunt hard, have fun, BE SAFE, and always take a kid with you … every time you can.

forked stick or anything else that's handy.

A deer's back straps are a valuable commodity, so next you'll wanna slice along both sides of the backbone and also the outside of both back straps. It helps to skin the hide off, too, even though you'll risk getting dirt and grit on the meat.

But heck, there is such a thing as water to wash the meat. But, as I found out, you can't wash off that green tint! So, better to be a bit dirty than spoiled rotten!

Once you've cooled the meat as best you can, that won't do you much good if you don't have an ice chest handy … WITH ICE IN IT. A cooler won't do you much good without ice. In fact, I've seen folks throw warm meat in a cooler without ice, and that'll do more harm than good.

As usual, I could go on and on about caring for wild game meat, but that would only serve to bore you more. Besides, both my readers have more common sense than I. Oh, I did get a compliment the other day when one of my readers told me my column has done wonders for his insomnia!

So, until our next meeting of the Weekly Mistake, here's hoping you get your deer. And when you go, whether it's hunting, fishing, camping or simply enjoying Mississippi's great outdoors, take a kid with you … every time you can.

Reach PineBelt NEWS outdoor writer Phil DiFatta at pdifatta@hotmail.com or text him at (601) 596-4475. Be sure to include contact info.