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Shoots Bikes and Leaves *

October 19, 2005

It's interesting how a simple comma can change the meaning of a headline. Had I titled this article, "Shoots, Bikes and Leaves" it could conjure images of shoots of tender undergrowth, speedy bikes and colorful autumn leaves.

But the headline above is more accurate for this time of year. It's hunting season again. One of my fears biking through the woods at this time of year is that I'll get shot and the silly fool who thought I was wildlife will be too embarassed to summon help. So he shoots me from my bike, then he leaves.

It does not prevent me from staying out of the woods completely, but it does add stress to what should be a carefree ride in the wilderness. What a shame; the woods are beautiful this time of year, the leaves are flaming colours, the air is cool and crisp, and with the thinning vegetation, you can find new trails to check out for the year ahead.

Anyone who has been glding along a grassy knoll and had a rifle shot ring out nearby knows the feeling. If you are fortunate, a replay of the Zapruder film flashes through your head rather than the actual bullet.

So in order to keep from becoming some careless hunter's trophy, I've started avoiding the woods when hunting season starts.

Oh, I suppose I could deck myself out in orange and attach bells to my bike, but I've been out with hunters before. I know how very excited and anxious they get when dusk approaches. When there is only slightly more daylight than beer left, the finger on the trigger gets twitchy. Anything moving deserves to be shot, just in case it is the deer of their dreams.

You could be dressed in flaming orange with a siren and flashing orange lights and someone could still mistake you for a deer. Not far from here a few years back, a hunter shot a blue SUV in the woods and killed a passenger. He claimed he thought it was a deer. So what chance does a mountain biker streaking through the woods have? Better not to take that chance.

So for the next few weeks, I guess I'll head for the trails in the closed parks, or safer yet, I'll stick to the roads. Anywhwere except Dealey Plaza . . .

* with acknowledgement to Lynne Truss: this headline was inspired by "Eats, Shoots and Leaves"

contributed by:
Rick MacMillan
October 19, 2005

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