Sunday, November 25, 2007

It's Bambi Time Again!

The American whitetail deer is an elusive critter. Even though there are millions of them in the northeast, and often several in my back yard, they have been bred for millions of years to be elusive, fast, and, thank goodness! TASTY!

Today marked my fourth day in the woods this year. All day last Monday, then Thanksgiving morning, all day Friday, and half a day Sunday. I have one small doe to show for many hours of marching through brush or sitting quietly in the cold. It was 25 degrees when I went into the woods on Friday morning, but, thanks to modern techology, I was relatively comfortable. Tonight, as I write this post, both index and middle fingers are still numb from today's hunt. It was a little colder than I felt!

My #1 hunting buddy scored a first yesterday - three deer at once. He was stationed above the end of a large, wooded gully that three drivers were pushing deer toward. He got the second first, the first second and the third last. As I sat about 200 yards away, a deer passed behind me, making noise that got me to spin around and see her disappear into the bush. I later field dressed one of my friend's rare "triple".

My only kill was on Friday afternoon - a button buck spooked by another hunter several hundred yards away. It ran right past me at full speed, coming from my rear, too fast for me to do anything. I watched it stop quite far from me, turn and move toward some other hunters in another area of the woods. I alerted them with my radio. A minute later I saw the same deer running back the way it had come, then, amazingly, it turned 90 degrees and came blazing down its prior path directly at me. I leveled my shotgun as it came, and at about 20 yards distance fired straight at its oncoming chest. It dropped at the spot and did not move again. There must be "deer highways" in the woods that are perceived only by them, and it died because it could not leave the road.

As an Appalachian Trail hiker, I know a lot about long and often painful days of vigorous effort. Hunting in cold weather in dense and hilly terrain is equally demanding. But the reward is a wonderful kind of "tired" and, sometimes, many packages of beautiful meat in the freezer. The season has two weeks to go, and I have two more tags to fill. I look forward to the effort.

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