December 4, 2021
It was a frosty morning this past Saturday, the opening morning of muzzleloader season. Dad and I made our way up to familiar territory, a place that had bred us both with much success over the years. I was in this area the previous weekend and noticed how the ground was tore up by deer on the search for acorns.
I decided to sit in my trusty ground blind, one that has been the setting for many of my previous deer stories. Dad continued up the walking path until he reached his destination. He was fortunate to actually see two deer skipping along as he meandered up the mountainside. This was the first deer sighting of the 2021 season for either of us.
After a more than three hour sit, Dad and I got on the radios. He told me about his deer sighting and we agreed to meet along the walking path. The air was bitter, and the wind chilled us to the bone. The idea was that the walk of about 200 yards would warm us up somewhat.
Along the way, I noticed some well-established deer trails cresting the ridge and heading up towards what we know as a good bedding area. As it had last snowed on Thursday morning, this much deer sign within a two-day span required my attention. It didn’t take a genius to figure out the deer were using these trails to get from their bedding to the acorns below.
I met Dad and brought him to the deer trails. We decided to build a ground blind, centering on three heavily used trails that funneled through this one area, a mixture of hardwoods and pines. From where I would sit, the furthest trail would be about a 30-yard shot.
Dad went on his way. His plan was to still hunt in the general direction of the truck, allowing him to not have such a long walk back to the vehicle in the dark. I settled in and ate my lunch. I would have approximately three and a half hours of legal shooting light to try out my new stand.
At about 2:30 PM, I heard footsteps on the crunchy snow. I looked to my immediate right, and at about 60 feet away, stood a decent-sized doe, staring straight at me. Right behind her were two smaller deer, both antlerless. This was most likely a mother and two older fawns. I now had the first deer sightings of my 2021 season.
The deer swung out in front of me along the furthest deer trail, and walked broadside at 30 yards, before disappearing over a small hump to my left. They had come up from the acorns and appeared to be heading towards the bedding area. I was simply ecstatic to see a deer.
Settling back in, I thought of my good fortune. I was happy to not get shut out for the entire season. Suddenly, I heard more crunching off to my right. After a few seconds, I saw the back of a deer poking its way up a bank and into view. For a moment, I was sure this would be the buck following the group of does. It turned out to be a fourth doe, with a small fawn in tow. They got onto the same trail and heading in the same direction.
I was now on high alert. I spent the next two hours expecting a buck to come along. One never did, but I was okay with it. As I made my long, lonely trek out of the woods in the dark, I gave a silent thanks for being able to witness such beautiful creatures up close in their home habitat. I was lucky, indeed.