November 11, 2010

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

So I'm sitting at Larry's Barber Shop leafing through the latest edition of Field and Stream when I come across an article entitled "The Best Days of the Rut". It was Friday morning, November the 5th, and sure enough the article listed November 5th as one of the six days deer hunters need to be in the woods.

So what's a guy to do? I rushed in to the office with my fresh buzz look, sped through as much work as I could, sticking it out through the lunch hour before finally putting up the sign in my window to let folks know "Gone Hunting".

Okay, so maybe I was planning on heading to the woods anyway, but the Field and Stream article was like having a note from the doctor - making this the equivalent of an excused absence.

I arrived plenty early for me, making into the stand before 3:00 p.m. (we were still on day-light savings time). Just like the article had suggested, I was aggressive with the grunt call, combining it with several rounds of rattling horns.

Sure enough, I brought in a decent 10-point buck almost immediately. He seemed to be enraged by the commotion I was making. He moved down the hill and then cut across behind my tree looking for a fight. It happened quickly, but I was still able to get positioned for a shot, which of course never came.

I'm going to assume everyone has seen the movie Christmas Vacation, but I'll apologize to those who've not watched the classic because they simply will not get this analogy. Anyway. I felt like Chevy Chase standing on the ladder putting up the Christmas decorations. When he couldn't decide whether to stick his hand over or under the ladder rung to grab hold of the gutter.

I must have looked a lot like that as I was unable to make up my mind on which side of the tree my shot was going to come. I went back and forth, left to right, as the deer continued his march toward me.

The approached stopped 20 yards from my stand, with the buck position behind a blow down. The downed tree left me a good look at his horns, but nothing resembling a shot.

I felt much better about the missed opportunity, when 30 minutes later, my next encounter transpired.

My scan of the adjoining CRP field uncovered a sneaky doe entering the low-water crossing. Then I spotted the horns floating above the grass line.

I serenaded the deer and he responded, leaving the doe to come investigate.

Unfortunately, and the term must be used loosely here, another big buck exited the CRP and also started down the path. Rarely is having two big deer a problem, but the arrival of trophy #2 stopped the first deer's approach toward me. He had made it down to the end of the path parallel to the ditch my stand is on, but instead of continuing my way, he headed back up the hill to meet his challenger.

I'm guessing that these two big boys had tussled before and possibly had fought to a draw on more than one occasion, because they gave each other fairly wide births. I know they weren't chicken, because my grunt and rattle returned their attention to my neck of the woods and they started back my way.

I had decided I wanted to take the lead deer, a very tall eight-pointer, who we've taken to calling Tuning Fork, because of the way his G2's and G3's closely curve upward together, somewhat resembling the sound making devices.

He turned at 35-yards from the stand. and headed into the woods. But the broadside shot was busted pre-draw. The 10-pointer seemed to be trying to discern the color of my eyes. His stare brought me to a complete standstill (except for the shakes). He stood watch until his partner made it safely into the woods.

I was going to settle for a shot at him, but I was certain Tuning Fork was in range behind me. I let the 10-pointer make it into the woods and turned to set up on the deer behind me. A couple grunts brought that deer on a trot right at me. I set up at full draw, waiting for the approaching trophy to clear the tree and give me a 15-yard shot in my best shooting lane.

Fortunately for the young eight pointer that appeared, I took just long enough to realize he wasn't who I was after.

I saw several more bucks before getting down, reinforcing that November 5th was one of the days we didn't want to miss. Sad thing is, today, November 8th, is the BEST day according to the article. Maybe if I hurry up and get the paper done I'll have a better story for next week.

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