Being Shot at in California

I awoke this morning to find snow falling on the Sequoia wilderness. I left my room and walked into the fog that clung to the lake and the treetops. It was only 39 degrees. I had packed for my trip with Florida in August in mind, but the hurricanes came and we had been transferred to the cold part of California . I walked to the lodge and asked at the front desk if they had a lost-and-found box, where I could falsely claim a warm item of clothing left behind from last season. Jamie immediately produced a faux-buckskin coat, with a huge hood with fuzzy fringes. I put it on. "Oh, I looks good on you." she teased. I felt like a male lion, with a golden mane, or maybe a bit like Robert Plant. "Really?" "Don't worry. I don't think it's real fur," she added.

So I drove to my survey point to retrieve the GPS data. I was walking up the side of the mountain, stopping halfway as I usually do, to breathe -- since I'm a smoker, and also to silently curse Bert for installing a monument on the top of a 45 degree slope. Today, at my resting spot, I was started by a rifle shot, so loud, it seemed to originate from the other side of the evergreen trees to my right. I crouched down, and really didn't know what to do for a couple moments. If I continued up the hill, crinkling through the brush, the owner of a gun might easily mistake me in my furry coat as a very tall mule deer wearing blue jeans and take another shot. I yelled out "Hello" -- which to my great surprise was amplified through King's Canyon National Park , ricocheting off mountains miles away. Immediately, almost in response to my greeting, the gun went off again. 

I continued to hesitate. With the echo being so great, it could be that I'd mistaken the closeness of the gun. I didn't know. I yelled out again something indeniably English, and not animal-sounding -- and ran up the hill crouched down, like they do in war movies. I got my stuff and ran back to the car. 

Which reminds me of a joke my friend always loved to tell, despite it being very stupid: A Canadian guy is vacationing in Mississippi , taking a hike in the woods when he glimpses the orange hat of a hunter between the trees. The guy waves his hands and hollers, "Hey, don't shoot me, eh? I'm not a moose." He sees that the hunter has made eye-contact. But the hunter takes aim with his rifle, and shoots in him the stomach. The poor Canadian is on the ground, bleeding like a shattered bottle of maple syrup, as the hunter rushes up to his side. Incredulous, the guy asks, "Why the hell d'you shoot me?! I said I wasn't a moose!" The hunter says, " Hell , I'm sorry. I thought you said you was a moose." 

--Brett Duesing, September, 2004