Sasha Nelson: ‘Twas the night before archery season
December 18, 2015
'Twas the night before Archery season, when all through the camp
Not a creature was stirring, not even our hunting dog, Champ,
The camo was unscented and laid out with care,
In hopes that huge wapiti would soon be there;
The hunters were nestled all snug in their bags,
While dreaming of trophies to fill their tags;
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And Brad in his beanie, and I in my Under Armour cap,
Had just settled our bodies for a long hunter's nap,
When out in the sage there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bag to see what was the matter.
Away to the tent door I flew like a stunt guy,
Tore open the zipper and threw up the rainfly.
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
“Now, Mossy Oak! Now, Kings! Now Realtree!
On, Mathews! On, Bear! On, Hoyt and PSE!
To the top of the mountain! To the top of the China Wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
Seeing Mr. Claus in autumn gave me pause,
Santa and reindeer during archery season must violate all Christmas laws,
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Into hunting camp St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in camo, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with elk fire and soot;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
With a deep breath and little shake,
I decided to see if a hunters wishlist I could make.
"Santa," I whispered as quiet as a mouse; "may I bend your ear?
I have a few hunter's requests that I'd like you to hear.
Access is a worry, we've hunted these lands traditionally;
Now people with power are trying to seize federal lands unconditionally.
In Thompson Divide, just down the road;
Hunting is at risk unless BLM sticks to their leasing code.
We need your help, Santa, to stop Congress from making choices that stink of reindeer dung;
Like gutting work keeping grouse from being listed and ending the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Hunters like me can sometimes be lazy,
But please, let's ensure BLM road building doesn't get too crazy.
Wildlife need peace and time,
To recover from the annual firing line.
Conservationists from across the land have helped to protect the Roan;
Please help us ensure protection for great hunting spots are set in stone
Old Nick may be a hunter is all I can say,
'Cause he agreed to my requests; he said, "Of course, right away!"
After agreeing, he went straight to his work,
He checked all the harnesses; then turned with a jerk,
And grabbing the reins and his smart phone,
He typed out some GPS coordinates while giving a groan
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a little sigh,
And away they all flew like a well-tied fishing fly.
No words from his lips, only an elk call,
I was left with a hope that next year will bring more hunting opportunities for all.
And then I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight —
"Happy hunting to all, and to all a good night!"