November 29, 2014
It was the final weekend of the 2014 firearms season. Dad and I afforded ourselves a little siesta in the truck rather than slog through the wilderness in the dark. We already had venison in the freezer anyway, courtesy of the four-pointer I took eight days prior (see “Redemption”).
It was 7:30 AM before we decided to gather up our stuff and head in. This late in the season makes it feel like there is too much gear, a little heavier, and a whole lot more cumbersome. To be truthful, I don’t think either of us were feeling it, our sleepy eyes not yet agreeing with the frosty wind that was swirling in every which direction.
Begrudgingly, we headed up the mountain. A fresh snow was glistening on the wood road, almost blinding in places. Any tracks spotted today would be fairly fresh and would require our most undivided attention. We detected a deer in the brushy power line to our right and determined it to be a doe.
Deer sign was difficult to come by for most of our journey up the mountain. This was not terribly alarming given that it had snowed the day before and the fact that Dad and I both understood there were plenty more deer in the vicinity. Our faith in the area was rewarded as we trekked closer to my deer stand, with tracks bounding here and there, tearing up the ground. We knew this was the place to be.
Dad was to spend the day at my stand. My objective was to meander over to his seat about 200 yards away. I planned to catch my breath there for 15 minutes before scouting an area to the northwest for the upcoming muzzleloader season. We said our well wishes and ten minutes later I was plopped against a stone wall with a manmade ground blind safeguarding me from the wind. The perspiration that had long since formed on my forehead merited the swig of ice-cold water that I allowed myself.
I had extravagant plans for that day. I had mapped out in my mind where I would be investigating, already looking forward to pulling out the muzzleloader the following weekend. But alas, my ambitions would not be fulfilled, as approximately 11 minutes from the time I sat down, a shot rang out from my trusty seat, ushering my thought from the future back to the present. My heart leapt into my throat. Five minutes later, my radio cracked. “I got one.”
The best walk to take is to help a hunting partner with his quarry, in this case a six-point buck. He had a gnarly rack, and immediately I knew this was the second buck I shot at and missed on opening day (see “A Most Dreadful Day”). The direction the deer came from drove this point home, as it was the same way he came from two weeks before. So, I had shot at and did not get two bucks on opening day and by the end of the season, Dad and I had taken both deer. A storybook ending indeed.