Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, January 23, 2015

‘Doe’ be afraid to ‘buck’ the system and get out of your rut

Under Analysis

I enjoyed a double windfall Monday in the Levison Towers. Martin Luther King Day meant no mail and no court appearances. I had a trial scheduled this week that settled at the end of last week, which means there’s nothing on the calendar for today except trial preparation, and I’m not preparing. For my clients, the best part of settling is that their case is over and the uncertainty is resolved. For me, it’s the windfall of free time – pure and simple.

A smart lawyer would use windfall time to catch up. I’ve been out of the office a lot in the last couple of months. Archery season for deer takes me out of my warm office into a cold tree stand in the wee hours of the morning. It also leaves a pile of papers on my desk. Yes, today would be a good day to catch up – if I were smart. You know where this is going – if you’ve read this column much. Windfall time is sacred, and not meant to be wasted on work. So I didn’t. Instead, I reminisced about hunting season.

My last hunt took place on the next to the last day of the season. I sat for hours in the tree stand. This is no small task for me. First, I’m scared of heights. Not heights really, but the potential for falling from those heights to the ground and stopping suddenly. Gravity is one law that cannot be broken, and there is no appeal. Second, trial practice means thinking quickly on my feet. In a tree stand, the time drags, and there are long periods of nothing – silence, cold, and time to contemplate. I watched a bald eagle soar overhead, and saw little birds picking through the underbrush. But no deer. And not much to think about.

There’s a guilty pleasure in stealing away to the woods in the middle of the week to hunt. Yes, it’s cold, but it’s also quiet. Occasionally, my mind wanders to my clients, or the things I’ll have to do to make up for skipping out of work. It doesn’t take long to wander back to the present moment, in the woods. I’ve found it almost impossible to think for very long about work while I’m in the woods. The hustle bustle of court and work are far from the woods, more so figuratively than literally. My farm is barely an hour from the city limits, but it feels like years.

After five hours in the tree, the light started to fade. At the end of the day, there’s a period of about 30 minutes when I convince myself that something can still happen, and that there’s enough light for me to get off a shot if Bambi wanders onto the field. Bambi knows this, and waits just out of range until the last light is gone. I can hear deer long before I can see them, and on this day I heard them. Lots.

Every noise in the woods is a trophy buck – until it transforms into a mouse or blue jay or some other tiny creature. I remember overhearing a couple of squirrels talking one afternoon. They were betting on how long they could keep me in the tree stand if they made noise occasionally. I know what you’re thinking, Gentle Reader, and yes, I do speak squirrel. It’s a lot like the noise insurance adjusters make, only more reliable. In any event, the answer to the squirrel riddle is hours.

On this last day of deer season, the noise of deer was punctuated by the howl of coyotes. I know the deer heard the same thing I did because they cleared out. I saw something in my peripheral vision, and in the waning light, couldn’t tell if it was a deer or a coyote. In my heart, I know coyotes are more frightened of me than I am of them. In my mind, however, I’m concerned about that one redneck coyote that didn’t get the memo. I followed the deer’s lead and skittered down out of my stand and up the hill to my truck.

If you’ve stayed with me this long, you’re probably wondering what deer hunting has to do with trial practice. In both, you can be completely calm one minute and then in a heart pounding flurry of activity. There are uniforms, preparation is key, and good equipment can help you – although even the best gear and thorough prep won’t guarantee success. Then again, those are probably just stretches to justify writing a column from my tree stand. It could be that there’s nothing remotely similar between the two. And that might be the best thing about hunting.

©2015 under analysis llc. under analysis is a nationally syndicated column of the Levison Group.Spencer Farris is the founding partner of The S.E. Farris Law Firm in St Louis, Mo. He thinks Thoreau may have been on to something. Comments or criticisms about this column may be sent c/o this newspaper or directly to the Levison Group via email at farris@farrislaw.net.