In the Field: when your buddy snores

montana living cowboy

by Dave Reese

      I had just drifted off into that netherworld between sleep and consciousness when the freight train came ripping through our tent.
      I felt the rumble push through my sleeping pad, then work its way through my body. When I came to, it was clear to me what was happening.
      Ed, you're snoring.
      Ed, you're snoring.
      "Huh? Oh. Sorry."
      I tried to hurry up and fall back asleep, but a few minutes later the train began rolling down those tracks again, right toward my head. I pushed my back up against the tent wall and tried to scoot as far away from the noise as possible, but it was no use. I was dealing with a big-time snorer here, the likes of which I have encountered only a few times in my outdoor camping pursuits. Nothing would help. Not tissue in my ears, or my head pressed firmly into the pillow with my elbow pressed tightly against my other ear like a vise.
      Being locked in a tent, tipi or camper with someone who snores can be pure hell. I don't consider myself a light sleeper, and I can generally sleep through anything, but there's something about that rhythmic rising and falling bray of someone snoring that seems to pierce my REM sleep. It comes from far away, works its way in, and when it gets in there, it's as hard to avoid as the common cold.
      Over the years I've come to adopt a few techniques to allow myself to get some shuteye while sleeping near a rolling peal of thunder.
      For instance, I'll tell the offender that they can't go to sleep until I'm well into slumberland. That sometimes works, but if I wake up, it's all over. I'll just toss and turn all night, listening to their every breath, my mind trying to pace my breathing with theirs.


That's the passive technique. Sometimes you have to load up on the artillery. If I'm camping with a major-league snorer, before I go to sleep, I'll arm myself with whatever's lying next to me, like shoes, boots, books, holsters, fishing tackle, whatever. Anything I can grab, hurl, and go back to sleep quickly.
      When the snorer gets to ripping, I just reach over and begin to unload, choosing my weapons carefully, saving the boots for last. The next morning when the offender wakes up, they often wonder where that pile of stuff on their bed came from, but I just sip my coffee, don't make eye contact and say, "Dunno." Earplugs don't work, either, because I'm too worried about not hearing the alarm clock, thereby missing the early hours of the day and the best hunting or fishing.
       My friend Otis is right up there in the top three of my "Friends who Snore." I would call him the Pavarotti of snoring. He is the Oscar-winner for sawing logs. Otis is a dear friend and we've been through many things together, but there's only so much you can stand. Sometimes I'll try the "you go to sleep first" technique, but then I have to listen to his guitar playing and singing until I nod off. I don't know which is worse, the snoring or the "music."
      We sort of have this mutual agreement that when the snoring sets in, he's going to take some hits. On one hunting trip up the Yaak, Otis drew the short straw and had to sleep on the floor of my camper. I had the misfortune of Otis's head being right below mine.
      Now I had not taken the necessary precautions of loading up on items to throw (blame it on the Jager) so when he set in on sawing logs, I just reached down, grabbed a handful of his hair, lifted gently and let his head go 'kerplunk' back on the bare floor. That worked.
      We're still friends. He understands the nature of our relationship. But I don't think Otis ever figured out how he got that lump on his head.

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