November 14, 2018

My Eyes: Maybe They Do Look So Good Anymore

There’s an old Maine story sometimes told. I first heard it when being entertained by Maine humorist Joe Perham many years ago. Maine has always had a strong French Canadian influence. The transition from the Canadian French to Maine English sometimes leaves one amused or confused. The French tend, in their interpretations and implementation of the English language, to get the order or use of certain words mixed up. The old Maine story goes something like this.

Two farmers who lived on opposite ends of town seldom had the pleasure of meeting and visiting each other. But when they did, it often began a series of bartering and sometimes bickering and undoubtedly confusion, leading to anger.

One day the two men met near the center of town. They briefly exchanged pleasantries. One farmer, Les,  said to the farmer of French descent, “Say, Pierre. I’m looking for a mule to work my farm.”

Pierre replied, “Well, I got one but his eyes they no look so good anymore.”

Farmer Les said, “I don’t care what he looks like. What you gut to git for that mule?”

“I’ll trade you my mule for your mule,” offered Pierre.

So in a couple of days, they met and swapped mules. Les had a reputation for a bit of dishonest bartering. He knew his mule was old and tired and figured an even swap was a good deal, getting the better of the trade. However, after a couple of days, Les went looking for Pierre.

Say, Pierre, “That mule you swapped me for…the dang thing’s blind!”

“Yeah, I know,” replied Pierre. “I told you his eyes they no look so good anymore.”

During my hunting trip to Hunting Camp, I came away with a bit of reassurance that my eyesight wasn’t failing worse than I thought in my advancing years. Three events took place that reassured me that for 66 years in age, my eyes they do look so good anymore.

The first event happened the day we arrived at Hunting Camp. As is tradition, we target shoot. From the sitting rest that somebody once built, to the target is approximately 30 yards or about 90 to 100 feet. I don’t know that any of us have ever measured exactly.

I stood behind the shooters and I could most often tell the shooter where his bullet hit the target – even the .223 caliber rounds. Most shooters doubted my ability to see that well at that distance, but upon examination of the target, more than not I was right.

As a side note, just before I got out of the U.S. Navy in 1976, I decided to have my teeth fixed and my eyes checked to at least get me taken care of for a while. I’ll spare the details but the eye doctor became fascinated with my seeing ability and gave me a thorough examination, determining that my eyesight was 20/8. Normal vision is 20/20. 20/8 vision means that what “normal” eyes can see at 8 feet, I could see at 20. The doctor told me Ted Williams, the all-time great baseball slugger, had 20/10 vision and that’s why he could hit the baseball so well.

I know I no longer have 20/8 vision. I need glasses to read by. Needless to say, I am a typical far-sighted person.

The following day, which was opening day of the regular firearms season for deer, at precisely 2 minutes after legal hunting, a fellow hunter and I were getting ready to drive out of the woods on our ATV. At a distance of approximately 300 yards, I made out two does’ silhouette at the top of a hill on the power line. I pointed them out to my buddy who took a while to pick them up…through his binoculars I might add.

The third event was a couple days later when I was still hunting in some small beeches that still had not shed their leaves. Scanning the landscape, I spotted a “brown” spot that seemed a bit out of place. I guessed what I was seeing was about 75 yards away. I continued to study the object until I focused in on a deer’s face staring directly at me. I swear the deer had a look on her face that said what the heck is that?

She continued to stare as I slowly raised my gun to see what she looked like in my scope. I wanted desparately to place a set of antlers on her head. Seeing none at 3x power, I brought the gun down and turned the power up to 7x. Still no antlers. I knew the chances were pretty good that if I was seeing a nice buck…well, I wouldn’t be seeing a nice buck hanging around wondering what I was up to.

She turned her head 90 degrees away from me and straight ahead as she was facing. I knew what was next. She bounded away, but lazily. I did spy her again watching me as I continued to still hunt.

In the past few years, mostly because I haven’t been able to even see deer in the woods, I have resorted to sitting in places in the woods or in a ground blind. I don’t like getting into tree stands anymore. I wondered if not seeing deer was solely attributed to lack of deer to spot or if it was my failing eyesight.

It was comforting and reassuring to know that my eyes “look good enough” to still be able to pick out a deer perhaps a little better than the average hunter.

 

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