I’m working on my annual hunting beard, but I’m not sure this fall’s edition will make it the week and a half until Washington’s deer season opener.
Too many white hairs, especially around my chinny chin chin.
Also up around my ears and above my upper lip.
Makes me look old — and I’m too young to have to start using Just For Men.
So every morning my razor calls louder and louder.
For now I’m ignoring the blasphemous blade. I’ve grown a scruff this time of year for a decade or so, for reasons that probably make not a lick of sense to Amy, who says it hurts her lips when we kiss.
For starters, beards just look outdoorsy. How many mountain men do you know of who head out to check their trap line clean-shaven? The tough men in all those rifle and shotgun ads all seem to have either the Don Johnson or Merlin Olsen thing going on as well.
Then there’s the badass factor. For whatever reason, the more facial hair, the meaner you look — I personally wouldn’t mess with the guys from ZZ Top. A beard can come in handy when some big jerk tries to beat you to your stump — or you have to try and scare off a cougar or bear poaching on your hunting grounds.
It also seems to keep my face a bit warmer on cold autumn morns — or at least my face feels a lot cooler in the breeze after I cut it off.
And while my beard isn’t very thick, there’s enough dark hairs to mask an otherwise pale face that might as well be a stop sign for a muley buck. Sure, I’m wearing a hunter orange hat and vest, but it just seems like the black and copper whiskers help me become one with the ponderosa pines up on Andy’s Mountain.
Well, until recently anyway.
The white hairs have actually been increasing for some time, making inroads above my ears and on my chest. From time to time a stray albino even shows up on my brown mop. I quickly pluck it out.
But this fall, it’s like they’ve bumrushed my face.
Maybe it is age, maybe it’s having two young sons — one of whom seems to want to do nothing but take bites out of the other while the other won’t share his immense pile of Legos — maybe it’s the pressure of coming up with new and interesting stuff for the mag.
Perhaps the best thing about my dark-haired mug up until now is that with a few razor swipes after season, I’ve got a pretty killer Fu Manchu.
Great for Halloween getups or getting an eyeroll or 300 out of Amy.
But methinks a salt-and-pepper ‘stache loses the affect.
If there’s one good thing about my whiskers losing their color, it’s this: At least I’ll be able to blend in better when it snows up at deer camp.
Postscript: A friend makes another good point about the hunting beard. After you shave it off, you tend to look a whole lot younger, and that’s pretty cool too.