Hunting is fun because it gives you a chance to get away from home and see that the rest of the world is just as ill-prepared for life as you are.

Like the physicist with the doctorate. On a recent hunting trip, the task of preparing a pot of coffee fell to him one morning.

The water kept perking but it never seemed to get any darker.

"How much coffee did you put in there? someone asked.

"Four spoons."

"Great. How much water?"

"Ten cups."

The physicist said that was all the coffee he could find, and he reckoned we'd just have to let it cook a little longer.

Like forever.

Which brings back memories of the huge construction worker in Erie, Pa., who was the coffee cook one cold day aboard a small boat. The captain was navigating before dawn to a place appropriately called "Misery Bay" for some duck shooting.

The big fellow made his way below and before long the sweet smell of hot java wafted up the companionway. It set the crew's taste buds atickle.

But the coffee never came up.

Finally, someone hollered below, "Where's the coffee?"

"Not done yet," said the big guy.

"Sure smells done," shouted the skipper.

"Yeah," said the giant, "but it hasn't stopped perking yet. Cook it till it quits perking right?"

The subject of hunters and the things they eat and drink is on my mind because I've just returned from a three-day hunting trip to North Carolina. I got on the bathroom scale this morning to find out how it went.

Not bad. Only gained four pounds.

Anyone who is familiar with hunting will recognize this condition immediately as the dreaded "Snickers Sundrome." It is a tradition among hunters that they are to expect to be exhausted at some point in their fieldly meanderings. As a precaution against that eventually, and to make certain there is fast energy close at hand, they bear small suitcases called day packs on their backs.

These packs are crammed to the gunwales with candy bars.

My daily allotment in North Carolina was three Snickers bars, three Hershey bars and a double handful of sour balls, which by choice I consumed in that order.

The problem with me and Snickers bars is that the only noticeable effect of eating one is that I want another one. I hold off as long as I can and then gobble them down in series.

That whets my appetite for the Hersheys.

This would be fine if it kept me going through a torturous day of mountain-scaling or thrashing through greenbriers or stumbling through clinging soybean fields.

But in North Carolina, all we did was sit.

Well, first we had breakfast at the hunt club. Grits, sausage, eggs, coffee, maybe a big Pepsi for energy.

Then a ride to the deer stand in a pickup truck.

Then the interminable wait, and no sign of anything on the move. The sun high in the sky, temperature around 70. Perfect candy bar conditions.

My rations barely held out till noon, when we gathered at Bob's Superette to talk about the hunt and gobble down cheeseburgers and pints of chocolate milk.

After three days, my wife barely recognized me as I waddled up to the front door. She saw the car, though, and knew it must be me.

"Good thing you're home," she said. "I needed the car to get to the supermarket."

I made straight for the medicine cabinet and began rifling around after the Tums. I heard her screams from the window and ran to see what was wrong.

"Disgusting," she shrieked.

She had a shovel in her hands and was digging out the front seat, trying to get to the wheel.

The trash pile was growing high around her. Snicker's wrappers, Hershey wrappers, cellophane from Nabs packs, Big Mac holders, styrofoam coffee cups, wax paper french fry bags, Coke cans.

"How can you live like this?"

Home is the hunter.