November 15, 2001

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

I have decided that the old buck and I are a lot alike. I got to witness the similarities up close Saturday morning as I watched a smallish eight-pointer trudge through the draw underneath my stand at about 7:00 a.m. He looked like a sleepwalker as he could barely keep his head up. At first I figured he had been shot or was wounded in some manner. But as he got closer (he walked within feet of my stand) I could tell he was just plain worn out.

My theory was proven when the buck settled in for a nap in his old bed that for some reason I had not noticed before. After he left I got down from the stand and stepped it off at just 12 steps. Anyway he browsed around for a few minutes before going down. I could tell he did not want to sleep but it was one of those times where he simply had too. He tried hard to hold his head up high to watch both sides of the draw for traffic.

Now this is where the similarities come in, because I too was struggling in the same manner before he came into the picture. I was trying not to doze off but was not having much success. Then there were the two squirrels that were bugging us. They had rattled around in the leaves enough to wake me a couple times and now they were doing the same thing to the buck. But the little noisemakers were not near as troublesome as that rifle shot just over the hill. The deer's head bolted up at the sound of the shot. Lucky for me he was looking in that direction because the shot startled me to a much greater degree and I know my knee-jerk reaction would have spooked the deer if he was looking my way.

By this time the novelty of the deer was wearing off and was beginning to become a little burdensome as I was unable to move around to look at what was crossing the field behind me. Here I was trapped by this buck who was sleeping on my time. That's when the second shot rang out and we both went through the same motions of fright, concern and the disgust that our slumber had been interrupted by someone who was most likely treading on ground where they were not supposed to be. But I felt comfortable enough with my blaze orange, and the buck was confident that this time-tested hiding spot would conceal him, so we both settled back into our comfort zones.

We both had pretty much written off the squirrels. That rush of little feet across the leaves can only cry wolf so many times and make you look for deer. That buck had the same thought process as his trained ears quickly filtered out the squirrel traffic and he slept right through it. That was until the two boys were chasing each other from tree to tree and happened to break a branch off right above the deer's bed. The impact of the little bundle of wood woke the deer but amazingly never even budged him from his bed. His eyes shot open but he made very little motion. I could tell that the scare had startled him though because he didn't drift back to sleep nearly as quickly as before.

Finally my little sleep-watching episode ended as quickly as it had started. I never had a sense that there were deer crossing the field behind me. I never heard a sound. I guess the buck could smell them because he stood up in the same motion that his eyes came open. He took a quick glance, let out a grunt and charged towards the ladies. I took a quick peek and quickly realized why the deer's action had such urgency. There were seven does and young ones working across the cut bean field. That was probably as good of odds as he had seen all season long.

The buck gave one last laugh as he made his move to exit the draw. The deer ran right toward my stand. I am not exaggerating when I say if he had taken one more step in my direction it would have had to been up the first step of the ladder.

We both had spent an hour trying not to sleep. All it took was a little deer action to keep our eyes open.

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