Experiencing nature as she awakes is a true delight. Birds are the first to hear as they begin to stir and make their “new day chirps”. They flitter from tree to tree as if shaking off the stiffness of the passing night. I have always found it amusing to have one perch near me in the tree stand, with that questionable look trying to determine whether or not I’m part of the tree or something to fear. When they stay longer or leave undisturbed, I know that those extra steps to camouflage me are worth it. The hat, the face drape, the gloves, the clothing and shoes all play a part in blending me into the tree. In the past I have also had squirrels check me out, but not this morning, the first day of the 2009 season. I’m glad… they sometimes give me away.
As the sunlight begins to spread across the field, that short-lived temperature-drop reminds me that I DID need the extra jacket my husband, Ed, and his brother, Mike, suggested. Far off I see a small buck jump a fence, and then another soon after. Too bad they are heading away from me. As I scan the area, I look back over my shoulders just in case one walks up on me. What a surprise it is to see one browsing below you! But that did not happen today.
I’m a pampered hunter. My husband does many things to make my hunt the best possible and easiest on me. As he drives me to the stand, all the safety rules and shooting tips are reviewed to make my hunt safe, successful and enjoyable. When we arrive, he holds all my gear as I climb up the ladder, insures my rifle is set in safe-mode and hands it and my other gear up to me. He waits while I get situated and watches as I bolt in the first cartridge and set the safety. He always throws out a couple of extra handfuls of corn and gives me the “thumbs up” sign before driving away. As the taillights disappear, my body takes in a deep breath and sighs as if to say “Okay girl, your on your own”.
Another hunter has settled into a blind several hundred yards away across the property line, but the noise coming my way tells me there must be a new hunter in the group. It is amazing how sound travels when you are trying to be silent. Just like the swivel seat in my tree stand… wish I had thought about adding oil to the squeak prior to opening day. Even acorns falling sound like a big varmint in the bushes.
Out of the brush to my left strolls a doe. Ten yards behind her comes a buck…a NICE buck…a PROUD buck with his head held high. He looks across the pasture to the other hunter’s blind. He turns and trots back into the brush. “Oh my gosh”, I whisper. “I’ve missed my chance!!” Ed has always told me to be ready, because you may only have a few seconds to make the shot. Out came a second doe, but no buck. The gun rest is positioned at the right corner of the stand, but I try to steady the gun with my left arm as a rest. I wait… no buck. “Okay”, I tell myself, “why not”… I try the bleat that Ed taught me; and sure enough, here he comes out again and looking my way. At this point I must tell you that I have shot several deer over the years, but when a large, majestic buck steps out and looks directly at you, your entire steadiness seems to fade. The cross hairs were dancing around and I was not sure whether to take the shot or not. “Breathe, just breathe”, I told myself and holding that breath I pulled the trigger. The buck looked around as if trying to locate the sound and then trotted off into the brush. I believe it was a clean miss… but what a kill it would have been! As the morning passed, only small, young bucks came my way, but watching and enjoying nature was worth the time in the stand.
Mid-morning Ed and Mike came to pick me up and because I had shot, we searched the entire area for signs of blood or a wounded or dead deer. Finding nothing eased my mind. Waiting for the afternoon hunt, we went into town for lunch and back out for a butterfly and bird watching episode under the oak trees.
With a few more pointers from Ed, I was soon back in the stand. The afternoon seemed to crawl. I watched cattle graze for about an hour before seeing any deer. I saw several, but nothing big enough to kill… until just before dark. A doe came prancing into the clearing with a “lovesick buck” chasing close behind. He really DID look silly because he had somehow lodged a green, stringy bush onto his left antler. As he pursued the doe, I got a steady rest and the shot was true. I love it when they drop right where you shoot them! He was a nice eight-point but his antlers were slight maybe because of the drought this year.
Now, back to being pampered… Ed, with Mike assisting, field-dressed my deer, skinned and quartered it all in the beam of a flashlight. What hunting partners! I couldn’t ask for more. It was a fun filled day with a happy ending and a very tired husband. Thank you sweetheart. I already smell venison chili, Jena.
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