November 4, 2004

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

Mosquitoes, a few scrawny does and way too many other things to do had limited me to just two bow-hunting outings thus far in 2004. With the end of daylight savings time and the idea that gun season was just two weeks away, I had plenty of incentive to finally get back in the stand this Sunday.

The bugs were gone. The leaves have dropped, giving much better visibility and the temperatures have fallen making it more accommodating all the way around. Oh, and did I mention the monster 10-point buck that skirted my stand for more than 30 minutes?

I picked up the deer moving in from behind my stand. I was sitting on one of our old wooden platforms on a little fold-out chair. At first I didn’t see the antlers, but I knew it was a buck simply from the body size.

As usual, I didn’t move much, as I assumed it was another basket-racked eight pointer or another young guy who would walk by me in a few seconds, strolling right under the stand without ever knowing that danger lurked in the tree above him.

That was until he popped his head up to take a peek at the button buck that was strolling in from the other direction. I was much more interested in him than he was in that little guy that was unknowingly trespassing on the big guy’s turf.

When he paused behind the first tree in the line, I was able to stand up. The next screen allowed me to get my bow positioned. Those trees are bothersome when you’re trying to get a shot, but they sure are nice when you need them to cover for you being unprepared.

Apparently he liked the hiding spot pretty well too, because he decided to hang out hidden behind the thick branches. Maybe he just didn’t like that feeling that someone was watching him.

I blew it, literally as I sounded a grunt or two to see if I could shake him free so he would continue the march toward my shooting zone. The big buck definitely perked up to the challenge, but he still wouldn’t budge.

It wasn’t the call, as it sounded good enough to get the little eight-point buck grunting as he emerged into the picture to my left. The neighborhood got even more crowded as two does came up the same path that my buck had followed. They must have been in the carpool lane, as they blew by him.

Needless to say, I was feeling pretty good about the whole picture. I had the big buck getting closer. He had a challenger that might bring him to me or he could simply follow the girls into the trap. Either way, I was set.

The only problem was, this buck was too smart for that. None of the deer caught my scent. I didn’t move to give away my position. The eight pointer came by first, somewhere between five to eight yards at the closest. The does were next as they stopped between me and the big buck to chew on some leaves before departing the scene even closer to my stand than the buck had been.

All the while the big guy just kept to himself in the security behind those branches. He was not challenged by the other buck’s presence, nor was he excited about getting a date with either of the ladies.

Finally the scene exploded as the first turkey went to roost. A dozen or so of the birds had made their way into the timber behind the deer scene. It was bedtime for the birdies. There’s not much else in the woods that makes more noise than a turkey trying to get to a treetop. As a matter of fact, the third bird missed her target and came crashing back toward the ground before catching herself midway down the roost.

The birds obviously made the buck skittish. I thought this might play into my hand, as the deer was between me and the distraction and I hoped it would push him to me.

The buck did finally come out from behind the tree and started my way. Call me crazy, but when that bird fell off the roost, I could have sworn that buck was laughing at it, as I could see his head rising and falling.

Unfortunately I got to see that same look from a different angle, as he turned and walked away, raising and dropping that tall, wide and bulky 10-point rack as he laughed at me all the way back to safety. Stay tuned, we’ll see who gets the last laugh.

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