A nice December buck steps out of a thicket to feed.

It is a grand experience, this bow hunting for winter whitetails, but what makes it so special is that every day is different. Every day in the woods is one of pure joy, even on those days of hard east winds.

Not all days are created equal when it comes to bow hunting. There are those special days that come along perhaps two or three days each season where we know something truly special will happen.

The possibilities of what may happen are endless. Perhaps a beet-red sun falls out of the western sky at sunset, and we set and marvel at nature’s beauty. Sometimes the wind will switch at just the right time so the hunter catches a break and shoots a buck with large antlers, occasionally more by accident than on purpose.

Each December day offers something special to deer hunters.

Some days are memorable because we see a whitetail buck that we’ve never seen before, and the animal is large enough to have been around for four or five years but has escaped detection until now.

A hunting day can be spectacular when we watch two large evenly matched bucks fight for dominance. The dust flies, there is the thunder of their hooves stomping the ground, the grunting as they push and shove in an effort to whip the other buck. Some fights end in a tie, but most reach a finale when one buck, clearly outmatched, gives up.

There is always the pleasure and personal pride of exquisite placement of an arrow, and the knowledge that the buck will be dead in two or three seconds. A touch of sadness always comes over us when we realize that we’ve taken that animal’s life for our nourishment.

Just as we feel a bit sad, we also feel a keen sense of accomplishment. The downing of a grand buck is a happening; it is something we’ll long remember, and the memory of the buck will live on forever once it has been stored in our personal memory bank.

We take pride in our skills, and we pursue deer with a purpose. Some bucks will be passed up, and some will not. Much of the time we never know we are going to shoot until the trigger finger twitches on the release, and the buck goes down.

Winter hunting is more about winter hunting than just killing deer.

Hunting isn’t just about killing nor is it about letting all deer live. There is a mental and physical balance we must maintain within ourselves, and the deer herd, that tells us it’s time to stop.

Stopping hunting is out of the question for me. I may stop carrying my bow, but I hunt 12 months out of the year. All of it, in one form or another, is scouting. I remember late-fall deer trails, study where deer bed down in the winter, and learn where big bucks live and why they are found there during the hunting season.

Hunting is a never-ending endeavor to learn and study the deer we hunt. We greet each season with enthusiasm, we scout long and hard to learn the habits of good bucks, and we put forth more than a bit of energy learning our hunting area.

It means laying down plenty of boot leather, checking food sites and deer trails, and watching deer from afar to avoid spooking them. This love affair with deer may well be an addiction but it’s not a harmful one.

This is not an easy time to hunt but it can be rewarding.

The more we watch and study deer, both bucks and does, the more we learn. The more we know about why deer do what they do, the better we become as a hunter. When we reach a certain pinnacle of skill and hunting success, we begin making each hunt more challenging.

It is, after all, the challenge between man and deer, that brings both of us together in the fall and early winter. The deer-hunting days are dwindling fast, and I can’t speak for you, but I haven’t had my fill of deer hunting just yet.


Posted via email from Dave Richey Outdoors

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