Mike Wilson: The Hartford and the chair

Published 2:01 pm Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Mike Wilson

I suppose I am sometimes viewed as “portly” by those with enriched active vocabularies. Accordingly, my chest waders (to use the nomenclature of most outdoor catalogs) are “stout,” which means I am allowed to pay five dollars extra when I order, presumably to cover the many extra yards of material needed to manufacture them. Thanks to this stature — and I suppose just a hint of plain old bad luck — I have enjoyed a somewhat checkered history with all but the strongest of chairs…

My first mishap occurred in Mexico City decades ago when my wife and I went to a popular restaurant for lunch. The waiter showed us to our table, and my wife recounts that when I sat down, I suddenly disappeared. I wasn’t quite as husky back then, so clearly the chair was defective. It only took a few months to recover my dignity, but definitely not in that same restaurant.

The next incident involved patio furniture made of white PVC pipe with blue nylon stretched over the frame and ostensibly double-stitched seams. No problems with the showroom test, but the first time I sat down to a meal at home, I found myself looking at my knees with my butt on the floor. If laughter truly is beneficial to health, I am sure my wife will live a very long time…I have also broken bolts in a few recliner frames, but I’m pretty sure it was because of my little daughters’ insistence on constantly sitting on my lap to read! I have flattened several of those cheap beach chairs — the ones that keep you about six inches off the sand. Luckily, there are usually trash barrels available at beach exits.

The most tragic episode took place a couple of deer seasons ago. As the years have worn on, I have evolved in my seating philosophy from nothing at all, to a camo boat cushion on the ground, to a dove stool, then to a folding stool with padded back, and finally to a full-blown camo folding camp chair for my ground hunting. I find I have many fewer aches after several freezing hours hunting deer on one of these wonderful technological advancements, especially if I happen to forget the preventive Aleves.

That year I encountered a major buck the first week of the black powder season that winded me just before legal light and emitted the loudest snort I have ever heard! Looking around later that morning, I could see numerous scrapes and rubs nearby, so I knew this was his habitual haunt.

The first week of regular firearm season, I decided to go to the same spot even earlier since the wind was more favorable and ambush him. Because the area is densely wooded with lots of stunted saplings, I had decided to take a shotgun with the Dixie Slugs Tri-Ball load (with 3 .60 caliber balls that pattern to 6” at 40 yards), which I had used to drop several deer right in their tracks.

After a couple of hours, I suddenly caught a glimpse of something moving at my 9. It was The Hartford, placidly browsing about 35 yards away. Naturally, my gun, which lay across the arms of my chair, was pointed to my 3 since I shoot left-handed, thanks to an old baseball accident. Worse, he began to slowly walk toward my 8, so I figured I had to do something smoothly and quickly before he ambled completely out of sight! I decided that whenever his eyes were blocked by one of the larger trees, I would very slowly turn in his direction, a maneuver I finally could not wait any longer to undertake. Lean back just a little more and he would be on my wall and in my freezer!

Just when I had my muzzle pointed a couple of feet above his silhouette’s top line, I was suddenly looking up at the treetops. The frame of that poisonous chair couldn’t take those last few pounds of pressure and suddenly collapsed. The Hartford ran crashing off through the woods with his afterburners on, most likely to delight some trail-camera owner the next county over.

Oh, he’ll be back…And so will I, since for Christmas a few weeks later the girls all chipped in to give me a new digital camo folding chair rated at 400 pounds, with an insulated buckshot holder on each arm. Let’s just see me break this one!

Mike Wilson is a former Hampden-Sydney Spanish professor and 13-year resident of Prince Edward County, who now calls North Carolina home. He can be reached at jmwilson@catawba.edu.