Monday, October 06, 2008

Remembering The Good & Bad Hunting Days


The stand was comfortable. The view from 20 feet in the air allowed me to see 20 yards in one direction, 100 yards in another, 40 yards in a third direction, and three-quarters of a mile to the west.

My stand was downwind of two deer trails that filtered out of the tag alders with my face into the cold west wind. Although with my high-power binoculars six deer could be seen 1,000 yards away, but they were too distant to determine whether they were does or bucks.

Nothing was moving near my stand in fairly heavy cover. Fifty yards to the south was the site of a scrape found two years ago, and my stand was crosswind to the old rutting spot. It was looked at again last year, and on several occasions this year, and the pine tree nearby showed more sign of a big bucks ripping off the bark.

It set me to thinking that there is much more to this deer hunting than many people think. Many people hunt for venison, and we do, but much of my time is mostly spent hunting as a way to spend more time in the woods, watching deer, playing the continual string of mind games with these animals.

Tonight was the first time in nearly a week when the wind was good for hunting this favorite spot. It was chosen with great deliberation, knowing that when it’s good, the hunting can be exceptional. When the hunting is bad, and the deer go in a different direction, it can mean a long night of sitting.

It was my sole intention to have a good time. If bucks were seen, that would be a bonus, and if a shot presented itself, it would be the frosting on my deer-hunting cake.

My intentions were to drink in the splendor of a sunny day. It was a day when deer should move, and the six big deer that were seen a long distance away were at least 200 yards from any hunting stand. Those deer moved very little, and as I sat patiently, many thoughts went through my mind.

*It’s not so important for me to shoot a deer as to sit out and hunt for deer. There is a difference.

*One squirrel was seen scampering around, and he was making quite a bit of racket as he nosed through the leaves. Watching him extend his feeding in search of something tasty made me realize that bushytails have to forage hard to find food.

*A flock of geese came over, the clamoring and honking was loud and haunting. There’s something about geese, and their calling that fill me with nostalgia for past hunts and hope for future outings when these big birds stool to the decoys on cocked wings, their heads moving in search of danger as they glide to the decoys, and the heart-thumping feeling of impending shots with heavy magnum loads.

*A deer was seen sneaking through open hardwoods and tag alder 100 yards away. The binoculars brought the animal in fairly well, but its head was lost in the underbrush. Buck, doe or fawn: who knows? It was well out of my practical shooting range of 15 to 20 yards. Just seeing the animal made my heart do a double-beat once or twice before the deer drifted out of sight as it headed for a distant unpicked corn field.

*The wind was swirling a bit, and remembered were other cold and windy days like this when bellying up to a hardwood fire with an adult beverage in hand, and thinking that it’s now been 25 years since I’ve touched alcohol, but the memory of those days are keen as are the many reasons I stopped imbibing.

*This often is the kind of weather that presages a temperature change with the possibility of color temperatures or snow. That doesn’t coincide with the weather forecast, but hunting during this moon phase may be good if the temperature stays cold and snow falls.

Most of all, my time tonight was spent dreaming the dreams of past deer hunts; not only the good but the poor ones. There’s no disguising the fact that some hunting days are better than others, but for me, I milked today’s experience for all it was worth.

I matters little thaI didn’t no deer were seen within bow range. The memory of today will remain etched on my brain, and the day was memorable, even if a buck didn’t come within 200 yards of me.

Memories are made from good and bad days, and in some cases, the bad days are more memorablee and last longer than the good ones. Go figure!

Posted by Dave Richey on 10/06 at 08:52 PM
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