I woke up at 5 am sharp that morning. I silently put on my fleece layers and camo outer shell. It was cold, about 20 degrees. After lacing up my boots, I snuck out the creaky door and grabbed my bow. A Browning, with one arrow in the quiver. “It should only take one shot,” I mumbled to myself. I knew exactly were I was going, but in the pitch black of the early winter morning, anything can turn dangerous.
I hike down the trail of my grandfather’s country acreage, I have done it countless times. About a mile down I turn off the trail and head straight through the tangled brush. The darkness closes in as the trees above me cast faint penumbra shadows across the ground. About a quarter mile down, and a couple hopped fences, I reach my destination. A deer stand; homemade, by my Grandpa’s country neighbor. I climb thirty feet up the metal pegs and sit down on the stand, a couple two-by-fours and several nails. A shingle is glued to the top so you don’t slide off. There are other store-bought stands in the area, but this is the one I want.
As the sky starts to lighten, I notice the buck rubs on the ground and saplings bent over with the bark scratched off. Both really good signs. The deer trails all funnel through this area, about thirty feet wide, with me in the middle. A perfect start to my yearly hunt. Just as the sun reaches the horizon, I notice something about 100 yards down hill. Looking through the binoculars I see something very common, a doe. Its not alone though. Behind it follows three young fawns. All with their spots, most likely born the previous spring. They work their way towards me, jump a creek, I don’t move a muscle.
Of course this is not what I am after. They find their way past me. I remain undetected. Soon after I see my quarry, a large ten Pt. buck about 50 yards off. My heart starts pounding, this could be my year. His neck is thick, in mid-rutting season. I draw my compound bow, set at 55 pounds, it is easy to hold. I should not need to attract him because he is following a trail that leads within five feet of my stand. I bide my time. As he gets closer, all of the sudden he stops. He puts his head up and sniffs the air. At this range, a shot of 25 yards, its about a 50-50 chance of making a fatal shot. Anything less and he runs for miles, wounded, and dies where I will never find him. A waste of a magnificent animal. I decide to wait. He pauses for about a minute, it seems like a hundred. He continues towards me, my arm is starting to get tired, I will have to take my shot soon. At about 15 yards, he stops, broadside, an ideal shot. There is only one problem, he is directly behind a massive oak tree. I can’t take this shot either. Again he sniffs the air, I can feel my cover being blown. He can sense that I’m there. He looks up, directly at me, and stares. Even in all my camouflage, he knows I’m there. His deep, black eyes can see me. They stare right through my facemask.
I realize that this shot will not happen. He turns, and runs. He is gone in a matter of seconds. Back the way he came. With my hopes dashed, I return to my Grandpa’s house for breakfast, good old bacon and eggs. “There is always next year,” is my excuse. I hope it’s true. Even though I have never shot one, I continue to hunt for big bucks. I believe that nature is the epitome of beauty. If there is a god, nature is his artwork, and he paints perfectly. The warm summer breezes, the first winter frost, the first salmon run in a cold stream, and every other aspect of the great outdoors truly puts me at peace. I believe that while we should work to preserve nature, it is always changing and cannot be stopped. It must be respected.