November 13, 2003

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

Looking back at the archives for this column I canít help but wonder why me? How can so many silly things happen to one guy? After my Wednesday outing bow hunting I donít believe the old material well will be drying up anytime soon. After a long couple days at work I was determined to skip out a few hours early last Wednesday and get a little escape from the stress in the bow stand. I made up my mind to try one of our new stands, one I had never sat in before. Plus it was easy to get into, and to be honest I really wasnít expecting much activity. I simply was looking for a quiet place to take a nap.

I guess I should have picked a little nicer afternoon. Last Wednesday was overcast, windy and COLD. Those were the best attributes of the day as it unwound. After forgetting my scent-lock camouflage suit in the garage I had to rush back to town. Donít think those deer would have been interested in me in my work clothes.

As Iím walking along the canal toward my stand I step a little to close to the bank. The earth gave way and I nearly went head first 20 or 30 feet down into the riverbed. Fortunately enough I simply dropped my bottle of water and a sandwich I had in a plastic bag. I guess the beavers ate well because there was no way for me to retrieve my snack.

All this and I wasnít even to the tree yet. And yes, the tree, plays an important role in this tale. The site of the stand is a pair of trees that have grown together. Upon this arbor stands a two-man metal stand. I love these things, easy to get into and comfortable. Unfortunately this stand was leaned up right against a small cavity in one of the trees. The hollow, which was basically at head level for a person sitting in the stand, turns out to be the home of at least one opossum. I did not realize this until I was face to face with the rodent. Iím not the bravest person in the world, so itís fortunate that there is a railing around the deck of the stand or otherwise I likely would have taken a nosedive in retreat of the hissing giant rat.

So after I summoned up enough courage to try to recapture my stand, I stood there prodding an arrow into the hole in the tree trying to fend off my besieger. After about 10 minutes on the attack I looked up to see a pair of does staring at me. The leader looked at her companion as if to say ďLook at the idiot in the tree, no deer could fit in that hole.Ē After they departed (laughing all the way) I redoubled my efforts to remove my friend Ė all the while standing on the top rung of the ladder.

The crash in the timber to my left drew my immediate stop. I may have looked stupid but my brain quickly equated the strong noise on such a noisy day to something big. Sure enough, not one, but two good-sized bucks quickly appeared on the trail of the does I had just entertained with my comedy act. Needless to say I was helpless, sitting on the steps, bow out of reach without even an arrow in place.

So I gave up on my exorcism and decided to turn around and just sit on the steps for a while watching the now growing number of deer emptying into the bean field. Thatís when he appeared. The big guy showed himself just some forty yards from the stand as he entered the arena. I was expecting music and a loud speaker to announce the arrival of the biggest deer I have ever seen in the field. My quick glimpse from the broadside was impressive but my jaw dropped when he turned away from me and marched toward a doe in the far corner. I believe I could have drove my truck between those tines, thatís how wide that rack was.

Well the lovers gave me a few flittering glimpses of hope. She wanted nothing to do with him, and initially made two runs closer to my stand. But the third rush from her suitor sent the doe packing.

I watched the big boy set all alone in the beans until it was too dark to see anymore. I waited as long as I could to get down hoping not to make any noise that might spook my partner from any future meetings we might have. My well-laid plans crumbled as I turned the corner on the field headed for the truck. There he stood (I assume it was him, either that or the combine was parked closer than I thought) a huge shadowy presence not more than 20 yards into the beans from my next step. I didnít miss a step and kept on trucking, watching out of the corner my eye as he never appeared to give me a second notice and stayed put as I trudged on to the vehicle.

Thereís no happy ending to this story yet. Obviously I have been back to the stand (Iíve spent more time there than in my own bed). Iíve seen the opossum several more times but have yet to me Mr. Big again. Iíve filled in the hole, sealed it with flashing and screws and bought some dynamite if a final eviction is necessary. Oh well if I donít find the deer again maybe my wife would let me put a trophy opossum on the wall.

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