November 1, 2001
by Chris Feeney
For me bow season might as well be about gift wrapping presents. Entering my third year of pursuing the sport I have yet to harvest a deer or turkey and have pulled the bow string back just once at a live target (a big doe that made the right turn when she needed to.) However I believe my luck is destined to change this year. Believe it or not but I sat in the stand five times during the month of October. That's once every six days, not bad considering Friday night football and my slavery/wedlock that had my nose to the grindstone at the mercy of an eight-month pregnant wife that was in the full bloom nesting stage.
Of my early trips, all but one has been eventful. As a matter of fact, on those four evenings (my wife noted that I have given up early morning outings in favor of slumber) I have had at least one shooting opportunity each time. My final two outings, both at a different stand than my first three stops, have been the most exciting.
Two Saturdays ago I was a bit concerned. I decided to try a different stand for the first time. When I got back there, I noticed the combine and the half cut field but figured the harvest was done for the afternoon. I was wrong as the roar of the combine started about 30 minutes later. That didn't bother the deer. To my surprise I watched three little bucks move down the trail behind my stand. They crossed the creek just yards from my stand and followed the trail only three steps from my tree. The first was a button buck, just starting to push a couple bumps through on top. The later two were both small four pointers who seemed to think they were much larger. The last of the three young men walked so close to my tree that I had to lean out past the stand to look back toward the tree and get a clear look. I had the bow in hand but had little need to knock an arrow, as I'll let these boys grow up and hope to see them in a few years. It was still quite entertaining to watch them spar back and forth as they crunched on acorns some 30 yards in front of me. They had their choice of acorns or soybeans and they chose the oak tree fruit hands down, all the while paying no heed to the combine that was some yards away, separated only by a small line of trees.
This Saturday I revisited the same stand. I was a bit late getting in, about 5:00 p.m. and noted so by the two white tails I saw fleeing from under the stand as I walked in. They were quickly replaced as I saw no fewer than a dozen deer the remainder of the evening. Two of the little bucks returned as well as two separate pairs of yearlings, minus their mothers. The acorn tree was once again the target. It resembled a clubhouse before the night was over with half a dozen deer munching nuts and socializing at the Oak Tree Club. The first two yearlings came in from behind me unnoticed. As my bow sat hanging above me I watched the two youngsters cross the creek, this time to my right, and once again come under the stand, easily within shooting distance. However it is difficult to shoot without a bow in your hand. It has almost been enough to convince me I need a five-yard pin on my bow (that and I need to take down my hangers so that I always have my bow in hand.)
Saturday night was the coldest night on the stand and cool enough to make me believe the rut is about to start. The young bucks were flirting quite a bit and I even watched what I thought was a buck chasing a doe silhouetted on the hilltop behind me at dusk. I also learned, after the fact, that a button buck must have at least three inches of exposed antler to count as a buck. I passed up a 15-yard shot on a small buck that was limping on a hind leg because I didn't want to lose the chance to bag a big buck prior to gun season. (You can kill two deer during bow season, but only one buck prior to gun season.) Maybe if I keep it up long enough I'll lose all my excuses for not shooting a deer.