Autumn April 14Jean Carnet photoWith the season officially over, I’ve come to one realization: I’ve had a lot of nicknames over the years. A bit of a different start from my other entries here, I know, but bear with me. I promise I’m taking this somewhere.

It started with a group of friends I used to go camping with when I was about 7 or 8 years old. We all decided to give each other nicknames one day, and I was ceremoniously dubbed “Swinging Monkey”, because of my unexplainable inability to sit still for more than five minutes. 

In fifth grade, I was named “Odie” and “Ottoman Empire” since pronouncing the “n” at the end of my name makes it sound like the name of the famous Turkish domain. Then, riding at a large training stable brought on a whole slew of nicknames as a flock of small children quickly adopted me as their honorary big sister. Autumana Movie (I don’t understand that one at all), Tumana, Tumdala, Rum Tum, Rummy, Tum, and even the incredibly simple “Um”…you say it, I answer to them all.

Well, I think Shakerag’s very own huntsman, John Eaton, has come up with what is arguably my most accurate nickname yet. If you ever hear him referring to somebody as Radio Killer or Killer…yep, that’s me. Hey, it’s better than Um. I’ll take it.

I should’ve known a nickname like this was coming. The first time I ever road whipped by myself, the radio I borrowed completely blew out for no apparent reason. So I was left standing on the concrete bridge at Long Creek next to my old minivan, Gertrude, with a map from the one and only Decoy Dave in one hand and a borrowed radio filled with static in the other, with the last audible instructions being “Get to the concrete bridge,” but knowing nothing more about what was happening. (Note: the minivan has since passed on…I would say rest in peace, but the old girl went out with a vengeance by breaking down three times in seven days in the middle of various intersections, so may she rest in misery.)

It’s a frighteningly accurate nickname though, because it’s not even just radios; my ability to repel technology is downright astonishing. I roughly understand how to work the basics of technology, but every time I come within ten feet of anything related to technology, it’s as if it senses my presence and immediately quits. I had a knock-down, drag-out battle with a printer at the beginning of spring semester, when it tried to suck up ten pages at once; I hadn’t even been to my first class for the semester at that point. That’s a new record for me. And for three days afterwards, it would just blink lights and hum and spin at an alarming rate, so I just unplugged it and refused to touch it. Just a week after that event, my email became possessed while I was attempting to send a message to my Spanish professor. In the midst of writing the email, words became bolded without my asking, lines of text became unusually spaced out, and the entire message was suddenly underlined. And no matter what I tried, I couldn’t make it stop.

All of my friends understand that being friends with me comes with an unspoken responsibility to constantly save me from myself with technology. In fact, since a couple of them have heard the story of my most recent nickname, even my friends at school have begun to answer my pleas for technology help with an affectionate, albeit mocking, “Oh Killer.”

Knock on wood I don’t cause any long-term damage. It’s usually just enough to be frustrating. The radio normally comes back to life later on, but its coma can last anywhere from a couple minutes to the majority of the hunt. But as a result, I’m trying to get better at thinking ahead and being quicker on my feet, and (I hope) I’ve begun to get better at that this past season. For example, I believe it was during the Junior/Novice hunt this season when hounds had crossed Sam Swindle, and the last bit of information I heard on the radio was that hounds were crossing Harriet’s Hill and were headed toward Erastus Church, so I headed in that direction. Upon getting there, BOOM, no more radio contact. I listened for hounds and heard nothing. I turned up the volume on the radio, and somewhere in the static I was able to make out the words “Killer” and “Ramsey’s”, so between that and the lack of hound music, I assumed I was in the wrong place. I hopped back in the CRV and headed towards Sam Swindle where, low and behold, I found road whip Decoy Dave who confirmed John Eaton was picking up hounds and heading towards Ramsey’s Woods.

Let’s not forget another early adventure in road whipping in Royston. I was told to stand on the bridge on Redwine Church Road with very specific instructions: If I see the quarry, let it cross. If I see the pack, let them cross. But if I see fewer than ten couple on the line, hold them up, wait for John Eaton to push the rest of the hounds on, and then let them all cross.
Oh, and this was my second time road whipping by myself. Right. Got it.

Of course the radio promptly gave way to static as soon as the pack exploded into full cry. I paced back and forth on the bridge, not daring to even blink as I scanned the woods and neighboring fields for any sign of movement. I listened to the pack push towards the bridge and fade away as they circled back towards their starting point, and then back towards me again. I paced and desperately looked for game, hounds, anything while my heart raced, threatening to pound right out of my chest as it seemed the pack was getting closer and closer to me with each circle. Finally, while I anxiously listened to their cry fade away from me once again, I heard a single word over the white noise from the radio: Watershed. Time to move!

Road whipping with little to no instruction at times can certainly be nerve-wracking, but hey, I’ve always loved a good challenge. It’s just another day in the life of Radio Killer.

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