Over the course of many years spent in the outdoors, I’ve come to notice a pattern. A phenomenon, if you will. For a while I saw it as just a coincidence, but eventually it became clear: something’s really going on here.
The phenomenon I’m referring to is the strange relationship between being in the great outdoors, and REALLY needing to use the bathroom. And I’m not talking about instances where your stomach gurgles a little and you think to yourself: Hmm…Gonna need to use the toilet when I make it back to camp. No, no. I’m talking about: Oh Lord please let there be toilet paper in this backpack! None?? Why is there ONLY pine straw laying around?!? This situation seems to only occur out in the wilderness, far from the truck, and in areas with really good deer activity. Mother nature comes knocking, and you have to answer. I’ve therefore aptly named this phenomenon, The Call of Duty.
The Call of Duty generally comes at the most inconvenient times possible. For instance, when I was a teenager, I was helping my dad launch our canoe for a camping trip at Port St. Joe, Fl. Halfway through loading the boat, I received The Call of Duty. Luckily, there’s a bathroom right next to the launch. I found it odd that The Call actually came while there was a bathroom nearby and not 7 miles into the wilderness while paddling the canoe. I hurriedly shuffled past several families that were enjoying lunch and getting ready to snorkel as I made my way to the bathroom doors. I reached for the handle to enter and…locked. Ruh roh… Glancing back over my shoulder, I made sure none of the families could see me and made for the women’s restroom.
This was more like it. Situations like these are the kind I’d come to expect from The Call of Duty. With no other bathroom for miles, and not wishing to ruin several families’ vacations, I quickly shuffled back to the truck for emergency toilet paper before breaking toward the thicket. Of course, I use the term “thicket” to describe the impenetrable wall of vegetative death that I attemtped to crash my way through. Briars, palm fronds, and an assortment of other razor sharp plants pulled at me as I made my way noisily out of sight and into the woods. A quick glance over my shoulder confirmed that my not-so-stealthy departure had, indeed, drawn everyone’s attention to the fact I was about to take care of business in the woods.
Nevertheless, I continued into the woods until I was 100% out of sight, and finally answered The Call. There’s always a brief moment after answering where you think to yourself Oh thank you. Disaster. Averted. And I was happily in this thought process when I realized I was in pain. A lot of pain. And all of it coming from below my belt line. I quickly glanced down in horror to see my poor bare bottom covered in hundreds of mosquitoes. I’d already put bug spray on my arms, legs, face, and neck. But who thinks to put bug spray on their butt?
Had everyone thought I’d entered the woods quickly, it was nothing compared to the speed at which I came crashing back out. I came sprinting back into the parking lot bloody, writhing in pain, shouting obscenities, and trailing a long length of toilet paper behind me like a flag. Right in front of everyone. The Call of Duty at its finest.
Another prime example of The Call occurred a few weeks back while hunting Central Georgia for Whitetail. I’d just left the Jeep a few minutes prior and crossed a small creek. I suddenly stumbled across a VERY fresh scrape line. While I stood around debating about which tree I should climb that evening, I received The Call of Duty. Of course, this came right when I discovered the best sign I’d seen all year, and there was no chance of making it back to the Jeep. I opted to quickly work my way down a dim trail and up over a small ridge that overlooked two merging creeks. I soon found a suitable spot, and answered The Call. Only after finishing did I look to notice 3 fresh rubs and two more scrapes that were only a few feet away.
There must be something about actually being in the outdoors that triggers it. One could leave their house without the faintest urge to use the restroom, get into the woods, and suddenly have to use the bathroom like never before. Maybe it’s the fresh air? The rustling of the leaves? The scent of pine and oak? Who knows? It’s a mystery to me.
Even stranger things occur with The Call of Duty when you actually -live- in the woods. While working on a deer study last year, I lived in the woods with two other guys for months at a time. It wasn’t until a few months into the study while bouncing around in a pickup truck with the guys that I came to a horrible realization. One of the guys would offhandedly mention something along the lines of, “If I don’t use the bathroom ASAP I’m gonna die”. And in response, the other guy would say “Same…I’ve gotta go bad”. I would have responded with something as well, but the urge to answer The Call was already so strong inside me that I feared speaking might hurry things up. I suddenly realized that we all had essentially this same coversation EVERY DAY. Like clockwork. Similar to how women will match menstral cycles if they are around each other long enough, men will actually sync The Call of Duty.
Once back at the field house, I quickly ran inside to toss some gear onto my bed. I turned around, went back into the hall, and reached for the bathroom door at the same time as one of the other guys.
“Dude…I’ve -really- gotta go”
“Yeah, but so do I. It’s…”
We were cut off by the muffled voice of the third guy from behind the locked door.
“Ya’ll wait your turn. I’m gonna be a while”
The Call of Duty at its finest.