Friday, November 11, 2011

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.

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