These days when a young outdoorsman talks about shed hunting, they are referring to the wonderfully pleasant pastime of walking through the fields and forests looking for deer antlers that were discarded by bucks sometime around January.
Bless their hearts.
The older outdoorsman imagines something quite different, however. And it is the stuff horror movie franchises are made of.
Shed hunting for us older outdoorsmen is the unfortunate annual act of having to go into the garden shed to search for things like canoe paddles, fishing nets, outboard motors, gas tanks and personal floatation devices.
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As such, shed hunting is one of the more dangerous hunting sports. In fact, it can sometimes get downright violent and devolve into a life-or-death confrontation.
Last year, for instance, I barely survived an attack by a predatory garden rake while searching for the second oar to my tin boat. This happened only because I got sloppy and dropped my guard when I caught a glimpse of the oar in the far corner behind a veil of spider webs. That turned out to be an almost fatal mistake. You see, when I advanced, I stepped on an unseen rake that was waiting in malevolent ambush, which caused it to launch upward and smack me right between the eyes. Then I stumbled forward and did it again. The third time was just bad luck.
Luckily, I was able to regain my senses and retreat out of striking range so I could play dead for a few minutes. Then, I got up and immediately raised my arms and made myself look big while slowly talking to the rake and backing up to the house. Needless to say, I rowed in circles for the next few days.
On a subsequent foray into the deep and dark jungle that is my shed, I had a close call with a new and working lawnmower – and I won’t lie to you, those things scare the living crap out of me. Fortunately, this time I somehow managed to keep my wits about me. For I knew full well, from many previous experiences, that if you leave them alone, they will generally leave you alone – if you are lucky, for an entire summer. Even knowing this, it still took all my resolve to find the boater’s safety kit that I was hunting for. And I brushed up against a can of stain and brush to do so.
All this is to say, an outdoorsman’s shed is also full of horror and unsolved mysteries.
Last spring, for instance, I found the bait bucket from the previous ice fishing season and it still had bait inside it. The bucket, it turns out, was hiding behind a big menacing wheelbarrow.
Let me stop here and say it is not my intention to frighten younger outdoorsmen who have no experience with sheds of their own. All I mean to do is show them that caution and experience are required. For in every older outdoorsman’s shed there are terrible things designed to make a grown man’s stomach churn – in that case, a wheelbarrow.
Right now, I am steadying my nerves for another foray into our shed. I tried to take a smarter approach this year. I asked Jenn if she might go into the shed and fetch the rake and wheelbarrow for me. It would have worked too had she not ran into the bait bucket I lost this year.