February 14, 2005

Gettin' Together with the "Slu Cru"

Well, as is obvious, I didn't go to the Reunion held this weekend. I had a prior commitment which I had forgotten about. I've got to do something about this great memory of mine. Anyway, though I really missed the opportunity to meet the family and their guests, I'm glad I stayed here.

Many moons ago, a group of six men bought a piece of land along a river. It was surrounded by hunting clubs, essentially in the middle of nowhere. My uncle was one of the buyers. His fellow co-owners were almost all prior servicemen now working for the same company. A tight-knit group. They built some buildings, and it became their hunting shack.

As the years went by, the county bought up the hunting clubs, leaving their land surrounded by forest preserve. It is their slice of heaven. Many deer, and a few turkeys are harvested each year, along with the murder of many innocent beers, and the consumption of a concoction reverently referred to as "moose juice." (A 50/50 mix of Christian Brothers Brandy and Peppermint Schnapps.)

The actual group of those allowed to hunt is small, and limited to the six and their families, and a couple of adoptees, one known as "The Hippie."

My uncle has four sons, but none share any of his interest in hunting. There are three guys in my family, and while not huge hunters all, we do like to get out in the woods. He loves when we come over so that he can show us his new equipment, or tell us about how he's shooting trap or bow. He's been telling us about the cabin, and an annual party (an all day.... and night, affair) that they always throw in February for years. Of course, he always told us about it after the party happened.

Last year I promised that I would make it this year. I forgot. How I remembered is another story, but I was reminded in time. Again, I'm glad.

My uncle has been telling these guys about us, and they were looking forward to meeting us. Both "The Hippie" (who I occasionally drink with) and my uncle had been telling us that they were actually excited about it. I wondered how exaggerated this was.

We arrived at the slough, only to discover that it was under water, and the party had been moved to one of the landowner's trap range. The hunting cabin itself was high and dry, but to get to it meant going through almost 3ft. of water. No problem like this at the trap range.

It was located on top of a hill, one of the highest around, and the view was incredible. There was a thirty acre stand of woods almost next to the clubhouse, and some small target shooting going on in there. One of the trap houses was operating, and guys were out powdering the clays. Mostly, guys were standing all around just talking, having a good time.

Walking into the clubhouse, there was a dice game going on, a pool table, and a furious game of poker being played. "The Hippie" was sitting there when my cousin and I walked in, and he proudly announced that he was in the clock cleaning business. The he proceeded to introduce us to those at the table. None were of the original six.

Going to get some food, I discovered that the description of them being excited was no exaggeration. My uncle met us, and told us that we needed to get our buttons. Since this was the first time out there, our buttons were emblazoned with "Cherry." Then he started the intros, but he's a pretty popular one, and he didn't get too far before he got sidetracked.

My boss is one of the six's sons. He had come in the door, so I introduced my cousin, and he introduced us to his dad. He introduced me as working with him, and then intro'd my cousin, who his father happened to recognize the name. They got to talking for a bit, and then the boss' dad looks around and asks where the hell *my uncle*'s nephew Joe is at.

He had shaken my hand before, but when he realized that I was the one he was looking for, he grabbed my hand again, in such a grip that I thought he was going to break my fingers! He had this big grin going ear to ear, and off we went to meet the other two of the six that were present. But not until we had a slug of "moose juice." Excited? No exaggeration at all!!!

I ended up visiting with those guys quite a bit, as well as many others. I listened to them giving each other crap about the shooting contest (which I was too late for) that they had earlier in the day. I listened to them hootin' and hollerin' and just having a good old time.

When it got dark, and they all moved inside, I made quite a few trips outside. Not a crowd person am I. But I couldn't help but grin listening to them. A yell would go up every time a good roll of the dice happened. A burst of name calling whenever someone successfully bluffed. Just guys acting like guys.

To try and describe this and make it sound like fun to someone, just doesn't work. Those that have been to something similar will know that it is an incredibly good time. But the best way that I can think of to describe it, is a phrase from a Harley shirt: If I Have To Explain, You Wouldn't Understand.

My cousin came up with one better when his wife told him she didn't see what fun it could be. He told her, "You remember what it's like to be a kid? How they can play forever in a tree fort, or playhouse? These are bigger kids, with bigger toys."

I can't wait to play next year.

Posted by That 1 Guy at February 14, 2005 06:58 PM | TrackBack