Monday, November 14, 2011

Whitetails on the table

...So that buck I wrote about? Well, my hunting buddy had it walk by his stand at 15 yards and that was all she wrote. It was a mainframe 8-pointer with an abnormal sticker point on one side that scored 124 7/8". A nice buck, but not a monster. My friend and I split the meat on whatever we shoot, so yesterday afternoon I helped him skin and quarter it. The hams and chops from my half are all currently sitting in my freezer, neatly carved into roasts and steaks, while the remaining 15 lbs of de-boned meat is in bags in the fridge awaiting the grinder. Perhaps tonight I'll get around to that. If not, then tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, I am also getting ready to boil the skull for my friend for a European mount. I hope it turns out well. It's a cool looking set of antlers and should make for a good mount. Pictures to follow when I'm done.

This weekend is also the start of shotgun season. Which means deer that were heretofore too far away are now in range...

Friday, November 11, 2011

And one more makes...twenty!

It's been interesting to watch the reactions to the excited announcement by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar that they are expecting their 20th child. It seems we are quite discombulated as a culture by the idea that a loving couple might be so...what's the right word?...ah yes, unnecessarily prolific. I mean, maybe back in the day when everyone farmed and people buried as many children as they raised (and often more), maybe such fecundity made sense. But now? In the post-Pill, post-Roe era? Why, such people are as hard to understand as aliens from outer space. I've heard reactions from admiration that one woman could even endure that many pregnancies (one dear friend, who is currently expecting said to Karen, "Just thinking about 18 more babies makes all my lady parts hurt!") to celebration of life (many Christians), to a scolding, don't-you-know-how-babies-happen-yet-you-coupla-rednecks (many on the left side of the media). Interestingly, the same sort of reactions, along the same sort of spectrum, could be found at the recent announcement that the 7 billionth child had just been born this month.

And while I find the thought of adding 16 children to our family fills me with a sense of profound weariness, when I see this lovely family, celebrating new life not as a number, but as a long-awaited joy, my heart fills with joy for them, though I don't know them, at the same time that it weeps for a culture where babies are  not as welcomed bundles of joy, but as a burden to society. May that change. And to all my "young evangelical" friends in search of a cause worth giving your life for so that our culture reflects Gospel values: here's one.

Whitetails in the mist

I went hunting on Monday morning, out to the camp where I have the privilege of serving as a board member. It was a crisp, cool morning, but not yet cold. The pre-rut was on, a front had just come through, and if the two does I spotted crossing the road on the way in were a sign, it promised to be an ideal morning for a bowhunter still in search of his first  bow kill. I was hoping that the big 12 pointer that has been haunting the alfalfa field at the north end would want to fight with my decoy and I'd get a shot or at least an encounter.

Instead, after I got everything set and was pulling the bow into the treestand with me, I discovered that my arrows had disappeared from my quiver somewhere between the truck and the tree. With no arrows, this was proving not to be much of a hunt. So I slipped out of the stand and walked back to the truck, flashlight in hand. I did not see them on the way back, so I waited at the truck for daylight, frustrated.

After it got light, I walked down, packed up the decoy and gathered my kit, it now becoming obvious I was in for a different kind of hunt-to find about $100 of arrows. I did finally find them, on the way back up the hill. Apparently, they had caught on some of the thorn tangle I had to plow through on the way down in the dark and popped out to the ground.

But by this time, it was 7:30 and the first magic hour-and-a-half was gone, and the spot I was hoping to hunt was probably scented up by all my tromping around. So, if I was going to actually hunt deer at all, it was going to be out of another stand.

When I arrived at another stand, overlooking a hot scrape which is easily 4' in diameter near some big rubs, I settled in comfortably and prepared to call and wait and call and wait. And it started to rain. Not hard, just a good steady sprinkle that soaks you a little at a time.

I toughed it out for two hours of no deer sightings and then decided I'd had enough fun for one day. I got down and slid through the sodden woods toward another stand to see what deer sign might be active near it (I haven't hunted it yet this year). As I got close, I spotted three deer--two does and a nice buck, who were all ambling downhill toward me at about 80-90 yards. Too far for this archer, but they might close the deal on their own. At least, that was my hope.

It was not to be. I watched for 5 minutes, silently and without moving. I had the wind and the deer weren't aware I was there. But then, the wind carried the scent of another predator to the deer and, in a jumble of white and grey-brown, they were gone, over the hill and out of my life. The coyote appeared, moments later, dogging their track.

Tomorrow is another day for me and the woods and the bow. Perhaps God's grace will prevail and I will get meat for the freezer and the family. Perhaps not. But either way, any coyotes in the area best be alert for airborne special deliveries.