Saturday, December 9, 2017

Dad and I headed into the woods shortly after 5:00 a.m. this morning. It felt good to be on my way up the mountain before most people had crawled out of bed. As I slowly trudged through the leaves, I listened to the crunching noise and wondered if I would hear any deer walking in the leaves after I sat down for the morning’s sit. I was suddenly jarred from the thought when I heard a truck’s tires vibrating off from the gravel road in the valley below me, then I saw it’s headlights in the distance. It seemed like a movie of sorts, and I wondered where the person driving the truck was headed. There aren’t any homes on the road, and the road dead ends, so I knew the person was a hunter. Would he shoot a deer on the second to last day of late muzzleloader season? Would he get lost? Would he sit in his truck and drink coffee until the sun came up? Would he head into the woods in the next couple of minutes and cover as much ground as I intended to cover before sitting down? I’m not sure, and I will never know the answer to the questions. That’s what made me put my head down and continue walking through the darkness.

When I finally arrived to the place I wanted to sit, I couldn’t decide which tree to rest my back against and settle into for the rest of the morning. After choosing a tree, I unloaded my backpack and stripped out of my sweaty clothes. As I stood on top of the mountain without a shirt on my back, something in my mind brought me back to the Brow Tine Buck chapter of my first book. It was probably because I explained how dad had stood on the hill without a shirt on his back before settling in for the morning, or it could have been because I was sitting just a little ways up the hill from where he killed that buck.

When I was finally settled, I could hear a deer walking through the leaves. Although it was dark, I knew it was going to end up in front of me. Gazing into the darkness, I couldn’t spot anything that resembled a deer, but I knew the deer was close to me. It milled around and fed until I could finally see enough to shoot. I could still hear it but couldn’t see it. Hoping it would go across the flat below me, I kept alert. Unfortunately, the deer stayed out of sight and continued down the hill. Eventually, its footsteps in the leaves become fainter and fainter until I could no longer hear them. From its actions, I was almost certain that it was the buck I was hunting.

The next few hours passed quickly. When a gunshot echoed off the mountain, I knew it was my dad who had shot. I clicked the radio on and waited to hear his voice. It didn’t take long before he came on and said that he was pretty sure that he didn’t hit the buck. He said it was a really good 8-pointer, but the gun misfired the first time he tried shooting. The second time, it went off but there was a lot of brush in the way by that time. Dad was really disappointed, especially since he had passed up a nice 6-pointer before shooting at the bigger buck. I guess we just have to chalk that one up to some bad luck at the wrong time.

The rest of the day passed quickly, but not before I had another encounter with what I think is the deer I’m chasing. I stayed in the same general area for the afternoon, thinking that the buck might come back up the hill to feed on the beechnuts before it got dark.

Just as I stood up to strap on my backpack, I could hear a deer walking through the leaves down below me on the edge of the swamp. Peering down the hill and through the saplings, I tried my hardest to locate some movement, but couldn’t see a thing. Before I could slow down the minute hand, it was dark, and the deer was still crunching through the leaves. Since I had a long walk, I headed toward the truck.

The buck is teasing me, and I’m hoping I catch up to it tomorrow morning. Dad ended up seeing eight deer today. Maybe we will knock one over tomorrow, the last day of the season.


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