Horse trailers. Orange vests and caps. Scabbards. Sheepskin-lined coats. Grocery baskets filled to the brim with coffee, hot chocolate, and all manner of meat and potatoes.

It must be hunting season in Cody.

Now I’ve never even shouldered a rifle, but I have watched with interest this whole fall phenomenon for years. It all starts with those late spring applications and continues to the last trip through the drifting snow to tear down a camp.

For Husband Carl, there’s nothing like hunting season to round up a story or two of epic adventure in the mountains. With all that spinning yarns and swapping tales, I’ve picked up a thing or two about hunter parlance.

First, I’ve noticed that when hunting season is the topic of conversation, every tree, hill, rock, ridge and creek in the area is significant. 

“Remember that year we sat behind that big rock and watched those bull elk smack their antlers together below us?”

Amazingly, every hunter knows exactly what the other is talking about.

Since half the fun of hunting is the “tent dining,” a trip or two to the grocery store is mandatory. These skilled hunters – with their elaborate strategies for bagging sheep, deer, and elk in all manner of weather and geography – seem lost in the quest for a can of beans or a carton of eggs. They spend what seems like hours in the store, trying to compare values and lamenting how “the price of everything sure has gone up since last year.” 

But with a hunting buddy or two alongside, grocery shopping is almost festive.

From what I can gather, the three most important things about the hunting campsite itself are location, location, location. It must have plenty of water and feed for the horses, and enough tall trees to hoist up food out of bear reach. It must have a level spot for the tent. But above all, it must be “aesthetically pleasing” – in the vernacular of hunters, “a right purty place.”

I have always wondered what hunters talk about during the long days in saddles and the longer nights in mummy bags. Carl is quick to remind me that by the time meals are cooked, ridges are scoured, and horses are fed, hunters are generally too exhausted to do much else but hit the sack. Apparently, each hopes he’ll fall asleep before the others start sawing logs.

What puzzles me most about this hunting hoopla is that hunters seem not bothered a particle with the intimacy of hunting camp. In any other setting, the thought of sleeping with the guys is, well, downright indecent. Females grow up with slumber parties and sleepovers, sharing beds and secrets, but guys tend to shy away from that sort of thing. 

In camp, however, they spend days together in small tents with sleeping bags touching – and body odor and greasy hair and all manner of bodily function.

Carl reminds me that most of the time is spent on horses. Still, it’s hard to picture two or three smelly ol’ cowboys cooped up in a tent for any length of time – and enjoying it thoroughly.

I suppose that’s what hunters would call “aromatherapy.”

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