November 18, 2004

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

My wife often asks why I insist on publicizing my mishaps and misadventures in my weekly (or every-other week, or whenever I have time to write it) Outdoor Corner. Without blinking an eye, I spout out my Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech about setting aside selfish concerns about my reputation for the good of the public. I must strive to show all you other hunters that youíre not alone, as a matter of fact youíre actually better off than at least one person, me. My motto is if it can go wrong, it willÖagain and again and again.

With that said, let me tell you about my deer season thus far.

It actually opened with much promise. I was a bit concerned as I busted a couple of deer while walking into the stand. My worries were short-lived, as I heard several deer moving around just moments after I sat down.

My self-doubt returned when it became light enough to see there were no deer in my general vicinity. I did see a buck chasing several does just yards from where I had parked the truck and walked in. I was a bit worried however, since this spot was close to the road and there had already been a dozen or more vehicles cruising by in a virtual traffic jam.

Finally about 7:00 a.m. I had my first close encounter. A pretty eight pointer wandered in, following a pair of does. They stopped about 15 yards from the stand and played tag for a bit, giving me a fun show for several minutes before finally moving on.

I got my second adrenaline rush about 15 minutes later when I heard the unmistakable approach of a deer behind me. Remarkably I maintained my cool and fought off the urge to turn and look. A rough looking young buck came marching by, just feet away from the base of the ladder. The youngster must have been a fighter turned lover, as the Casanova was obviously looking for a doe, but his broken mess of a rack wasnít going to win him any beauty points with the girls.

It was pretty much Grand Central Station from that point on as I had deer running back and forth in the timber for the next couple of hours.

At about 8:30 a.m. I spotted a big guy. He was following three does. A quick glimpse with the binoculars revealed a big, tall eight pointer that had me reaching for the rifle. By the time I had the sights on him, he was heading behind an old cottonwood tree. I was rubbing my eyes when the big buck came walking in from the other direction. I thought it was a magic tree, before I figured out that this was a different big buck. This guy was an older 10-pointer whose mass quickly changed my mind to put the cross hairs on him.

!@$% cottonwood tree. That big old trunk hid the two guys as they went head-to-head for a little shoving match as their girls looked on. Thatís when the shot rang out just down the draw. The bang broke up the fight and started the herd moving. The big boys put on the brave act as they slowly walked out behind the fleeing does.

All I could see was the big eight pointer, so I decided heíd do. My finger was coming down on the trigger when the 10-pointer appeared just behind him on the trail. I swung the gun his way when the whole scene blew up. A handful of deer came fleeing from the shooting range and disrupted my shot as they quickly motivated my bucks to also skedaddle.

My hopes werenít totally dashed. I could see the big boys lingering in the thick stuff, tantalizing me with the prospect of a quick return. That didnít happen. It may have had something to do with the blaze orange that was walking their way.

What part of a fence do people not understand?

I think maybe I should travel to their residence, walk in the front door, grab some stuff out of the fridge and make myself at home.

I take deer hunting seriously. I put in several hours placing stands, scouting and in general preparation. That all goes up in smoke in seconds because someone ignores the fence, makes the conscious decision to break the law and ruins all my work. And for that they get a fine?

Maybe itís time to put some bigger teeth behind the trespass law. Really, isnít it burglary or at least attempted burglary? They are breaking into your farm with the intent of stealing something of value. I bet they would think twice about crossing that fence if they were risking a stiffer fine, faced confiscation of their firearm, or the thought of losing their hunting privileges for a year or two, or they were forced to pay retribution to the personís hunt who they screwed up. Better yet, why not all three. Fine them a couple hundred bucks plus a couple hundred bucks to go to the victim and take their hunting license for a year or two.

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