Trouble comes at 32 yards

Early last summer I was invited to a friend’s wedding. It was a planned outdoor event scheduled for the middle of September. In hindsight, I probably should have never gone.
Any bow hunter worth his weight in salt knows the importance of accurately estimating yardages. Months of practicing mean absolutely nothing if the deer you guessed at 35 yards is actually only 20. The wedding was a few short weeks before the start of our early archery deer hunting season. Normally about this time, other than flinging a few arrows, I find myself routinely estimating distances to various objects.

When the day of the event arrived I had the bright idea to take along my Nikon range finder. I tucked it into the pocket of my sport coat. It is good out to 600 yards with an accuracy rating of plus or minus one yard.

For once I arrived early and took my customary seat in the back row of the huge tent that was brightly decorated for the event. The vows were supposed to start at 2 PM but for some reason it was delayed. When sleepiness from boredom began to creep in I remembered the range finder and nonchalantly slipped it from my pocket. The organist, which I guessed at 30 yards was actually 40. If she was a trophy buck my arrow would have hit haplessly low.

After shooting invisible laser beams at other objects I felt a slight tap on my shoulder. “Would you mind taking a picture of my daughter and me,” said an acquaintance. “Well, I’d be glad to,” I smiled, before aiming and pushing the button. They were only three yards. “That’s the quietest camera,” said the young lady. “New model,” I mentioned. “But why don’t you let me take a couple more with your cell phone just in case.”

As the wedding began I continued shooting distances. The minister was 42 yards while the bride and groom stood at 40. The photographer provided a moving target and gave me numerous chances to guess her distance. Turning to my right I focused on the buffet table. I guessed it at 49 yards when it was actually 51. Practice pays off and the more I ranged people and things my estimating became tighter.

It was at the reception when things began to unravel. That’s when a friend’s 14 year old son, Josh, came from behind me. “I know that’s not a camera,” he said triumphantly, poking me in the side. I felt if anybody would appreciate an electronic range finder it would be a young boy. While everyone gathered at the food and drink line I took him off to the side and explained how it worked. “Here, give it a try,” I said handing him the small black box.

He began shooting invisible laser beams everywhere. “Wow, dude, this is awesome,” he said as he turned from right to left aiming then pushing the button at everything he could. Just when I thought things were cool Josh roared with laughter. People began looking our direction because of his commotion.

“What’s so funny?” I questioned. “See Aunt Betty over there,” he tried to explain amid snickers. “Her back is 33 yards but her butt is only 32!” he added before again busting out hysterically.

“Gimme that thing,” I snapped, snatching the black box from his grubby hands. “Now beat it and don’t tell anyone about this or I’ll break your fingers.” I said, before pushing him away.

I watched in horror as he spun around on his heels before making a beeline straight to his Aunt Betty. Last I saw him he was 20 yards out and closing in on his well-fed aunt. I turned and tried to make a quick exit. In a few seconds I could feel her laser beams locking in on my backside as I headed to the truck. I didn’t even have a chance to eat.

To date I still have not received a thank you card from the newlyweds, even though I gifted them the most expensive bottle of Gold Label deer urine money can buy and a hard backed copy of the Complete Guide to Field Dressing Wild Game.

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John Martino

Martino is a well-known outdoor writer throughout Indiana and has served as longtime outdoor columnist for the Kokomo Tribune newspaper. Martino has won numerous awards for both his writing and his service to youth, conservation and the community. He recently retired as Superintendent of Parks and Recreation for the City of Kokomo and now works as Ivy Tech Executive Director for Facilities for the Kokomo region.

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