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 Deer Hunt in Barnes

A half-hour later my eyes caught movement in the woods ahead. But it wasn't a deer. I couldn't quite make out the shape but the orange glow of a vest proved once again the value of wearing blaze orange especially with the foolhardiness of someone thinking they can stalk a deer through the bush.

I could just scream. This spot was blown. Now what? I gathered up my gear and disgustedly trudged north for about twenty-five minutes and sat down in a clearing as the sun dipped low in the sky. Twenty minutes later there was no sign of any humans. About time, I thought. The sun was sinking into the horizon and everything became very quiet. I think I heard a pin drop at a thousand yards. No just a mosquito buzzing my ear.

I sat there looking across the clearing for a while remaining completely still. There, I heard it, the soft bugle of a, was it a deer? It didn't sound like any buck I've ever listened to on an mp3 file, but it was somewhere in the bush at least a couple of hundred yards away. I waited a while until I slowly turned my head to scan the area. Nothing of course. Then I slowly scanned back the other direction and a hundred yards away, under a giant, sprawling oak tree I could see that a medium-sized hog feeding on acorns had materialized out of seemingly thin air. It hadn't seen me but, shit, a hundred yards was too far for an accurate shot with a slug, for me anyway.

Deer Hunt in Barnes

As we hiked out to our deer stands, all I was thinking about was how many deer we were going to see and if this was the day one of us would connect with the big, elusive whitetail buck. We arrived at Travis's stand and helped him get situated before we continued our half-mile journey. He was near to the top of a hill, right on the edge of thousands of pines that were planted in the 1940s by the CCc's. He overlooks a ravine that has always been a good natural runway. Over to his right, there is an old railroad right-of-way and a small, figure-eight shaped lake that looks like it is getting smaller every year. Travis loves this spot!

I thought about the hog but that deer sound out in the woods kept me frozen in place for several minutes. Then I couldn't stand it any longer. I turned my attention to the hog.

I would have to get closer. It was very still and for a while, I could hear nothing. The hog grazed on the acorns, oblivious to me inside my 3-D camouflaged jacket, hood, and face mask. I was sitting there thinking that if I had my 30-30 I could have picked it off from where I sat. This scenario was just unacceptable, how was I going to get closer?

Then out of the corner of my eye, a tiny calf of the cow variety walked into view. Oh great, now the entire heard is going to come tromping through, I thought. But nothing followed it. It was all by itself. It couldn't have been more than a few days old. It must be lost, poor little thing.

It wandered along the trail, not seeing me until it spotted the hog off in the distance. Then the calf trotted over in its direction as if to ask, "Are you my mother, are you, my mother?" The hog seemed unconcerned, "No, I'm not your mother, punk, do I look like a cow?"

Then a brilliant plan formulated in my brain. There were two small trees between me and the hog. As the calf walked out ahead I crept stealthily with the first tree directly between me and the hog. I couldn't believe I made it to the first tree without being seen. If I could just get to the next tree it would put me at about fifty yards away.

Deer Hunt in Barnes

The calf continued to close in on the hog, "Are you my mother, are you my mother?" I dared another scuttle to the next tree. Success. The hog was still rummaging for acorns and the calf was standing next to the hog looking forlorn. Really? Forlorn? You saw a forlorn expression on the calf's face? OK, how about dejected? Let's get this straight. A calf's face is like a woman's face that gets a lot of Botox, it doesn't change expression.

I needed to take the shot. Before my brain told my arms to bring the shotgun up to my shoulder, the little calf walked over to nuzzle the hog but the hog wasn't having any of that. It trotted off into the thick palmettos that lead toward the swamp.

With a forlorn expression on my face, I walked back over to my chair and sat down deciding what I was going to do. The little calf followed me over and stood right in front of me, "Are you my mother, are you my mother?"

"No, I'm not your mother, now scram, cow." I guess it took the hint and wandered off down the path.

I sat back down, drank some water, and then heard a single gunshot back in the direction of where we came in at. I called my son and asked him if it was him. He denied it. The guy in the tree stands by the truck, shit.

I loaded up my gear and walked out to meet up with my son and his friend. It was dark and I could see that they had turned on the headlamps I had given them before we left. Always carry at least two good lights. I carry two headlamps and a strong handheld flashlight along with the GPS and compass and a backpack filled with enough gear to stay overnight if I have to. You only have to spend one night shivering in the dark to make a believer out of you.

How to Draw a Deer

We rounded the corner for the last couple of hundred yards to the truck and could see the heawdlights of the guy's pickup on the road in front of the deer stand. It was a nice six-point buck. We helped him load it onto his truck. He was an older fellow and he said it was his first deer, he couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe it.

We had slammed the truck doors. They had peed on my tires and laughed hilariously. They had made enough racket to alert the authorities. There's no way a deer should have shown its face anywhere near that area. Sometimes, even when you think you're doing all the right things, it still comes down to the randomness of a wild creature's habits.

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