Sunday, June 28, 2009

Living The Impossible Dream,

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There is only one good thing about hot weather we’ve had recently. It helps the crops grow, providing we get some rain, and that in turn feeds the critters we hunt during the fall and winter.

The heat puts me into a daydream world where for a time I dreamed of deer hunting. Mind you, in my dream, instead of hot weather, the temperature was a more moderate 60 degrees. A northwest wind was kissing my nose, and I sat 15 feet up a cedar tree 10 yards downwind of where two heavily used deer trails merged.

It’s a spot I’ve hunted for many years, and one where I’ve taken several good bucks. It gets hunted only two or three times during the fall, but whenever I sit there, I see bucks drifting past at a slow pace.

It’s one of those spots located midway between the bedding and feeding areas, and it is in heavy cover. There are only two secure ways in and out of it, and if it is hunted more often, the deer will pattern the hunter rather than the other way around.

As I doze, between innings where the Detroit Tigers should have won but lost last night, my dream has me kicked back in my ladder stand. The stand is rock solid, doesn’t squeak or make any noise, and I watch young fawns and their mother amble past.

This spot is perfect for a northwest wind, and the two trails meet just 10 feet upwind, before the single trail kicks a bit to the left. This gives me an easy quartering-away shot.

The tree has been doctored up a bit. A few low-hanging cedar boughs were cut off a private-land tree far from this stand, and brought into the area for the sole purpose of adding a bit more cover to a perfect tree.

Long before I ever hunted it there was a noticeable gap between boughs that would skylight me. That gap was filled in with cedar boughs, and then two more boughs were placed four feet over my head and across in front of me. Two boughs were lashed in place, and it provided shade from above, and I could draw my bow without hitting them.

More boughs were added behind me, and they were tied in place with twine. The deer always came from behind and to my left. and two more boughs hung down to my immediate left. They were tied in place so I could see past them but the deer couldn’t see me.

The stand was chained in place, and all chain and straps were wrapped in camo-colored duct tape. Two other boughs blocked off my right side, and there was only one place where I could shoot. It was all I needed.

It was slightly to my left and going away. The deer would walk past, never knowing I was there, and seeing the bucks when they were immediately to my left gave me 10 seconds to come to full draw, aim and release when the buck was in precisely the right spot.

The tree stand was camoed so well that over the years I’ve seen several black bears while hunting it. Every bear spotted from that stand was heard before it was seen, and the last one could be heard coming for 50 yards.

The woods were dry and enough alders and a few popple trees were around to litter the ground with leaves. During wet years, the deer and bear came out of a water-filled swamp, sloshing water with every step.

The last bear came in, stood behind my tree, moved slightly to the right of my tree, turned and walked between the tree and the ladder and out into the open. It stood quartering-away at 10 yards, and although I didn’t have a bear tag that year, there is no law against drawing down on a bruin providing you don’t shoot.

I didn’t shoot, but drew twice on that bear without it being alerted to my presence. Deer have never crossed from my right to left side to reach the same location. They walk in a straight line, and two of the bucks I’ve taken from that tree were spined almost directly below me. They died instantly and no trailing was required.

The dream ended as the other team scored again, and a roar went up from the crowd. Detroit’s pitching didn’t help last night. The Tigers lost a game they never could have won.

My dream was short and sweet, and its little tidbits of deer hunting will keep me going until the deer season opens.I’ll soon be counting the days, and it can’t come too soon to suit me

Posted by Dave Richey on 06/28 at 10:30 AM
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