Sunday, December 11, 2016

It was 11 degrees when I got out of the truck this morning about an hour before daylight. The moon was pretty bright last night, so I figured there wouldn’t be much early morning activity.

As I neared the area I wanted to sit, I could hear deer running across the crunchy snow. Irritated, I stood motionless and thought that would be all of the activity I would encounter for the morning. A minute or two later, those thoughts were quickly replaced when I could hear a deer walking away.

Since I didn’t want to disturb any other deer if they were still in the area, I planted myself under the nearest tree. Many people probably wouldn’t have stopped, but I have learned that when a lot of deer are in an area, it’s probably a good idea to keep any disturbances minimal. Although I couldn’t see very far, I felt confident about my chances. I hoped that a few of the deer would circle back through a few hours after daylight.

Amazingly, I guessed right. About 9:30, I could hear deer walking across the hill below me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see them. I knew they were close, but a steep drop-off about 25 yards in front of me prevented me from seeing the deer.

Finally, I spotted an ear twitching. I could barely see the top of a deer’s ear, and it was only about 40 yards away. After identifying it as a doe, I could hear another deer walking up the drop-off. When it appeared, I saw that it was a really big doe. She seemed a little nervous and didn’t hang around for an extended period of time.

When I got up to head out of the woods around 11:00, there seemed to be a lot of activity on the private land across the border of the state land where I was hunting. There were four 4-wheelers cruising up and down the trail and the guys on them were yelling back and forth. Standing behind a tree, I observed the shenanigans for a while. Finally, I decided to head up the hill and go back to the truck.

That’s when I saw something I will never forget. A couple of deer that were just inside the state border, trotted to a nearby log and ducked in behind it while the wheelers made their way down the trail. After the wheelers passed, the deer got up and headed directly away from the trail. I was amazed at the events I witnessed.

The rest of the day was uneventful. When the sun went down, I headed out of the woods. In many ways I was glad that the hunting season had ended, but I was also sad to see it go. It was an incredible year in a variety of ways.

It’s always a sad day when the sun sets on the last day of hunting season. I guess I’ll have to wait until next year to chase new dreams if I’m fortunate enough to be alive to be granted the opportunity.

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