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November 25, 2004

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

Sunday rolled around and Iím still sitting in my tree stand waiting for that big buck. Itís natural for the doubts to start rolling in. Itís been a week of early mornings, cold evenings and no big buck. Then Saturday morning I see my trophy. It was like rubbing salt in the wound.

There I was lounging on my side, laid out on my stand watching a little doe eating acorns under an oak tree. Sheíd seen me sit down and was watching me as she grabbed another snack. I wasnít too worried about her running off, but I was so happy to have something to watch that I wasnít in a big hurry to scare her away.

My little hiatus was interrupted when three does came out of the draw on my other side. I suspected there would be a buck behind them, so I slowly reached for the rifle and began to shift my body in their direction. Then the little scrubby four-pointer meandered out. My anticipation turned to disgust as I released the gun and stopped my move into firing position. I was nearly back to my resting point when he showed up.

He came out in a trot, as if he was entering the passing line to go by the little buck and steal his does. The sight of his massive rack immediately forced me to throw caution to the wind. I rolled over, grabbed the gun and stood up nearly all in one motion as I rushed to get a shot at this trophy.

I finally caught him in the scope just as he drove the herd into the adjoining draw and disappeared into the trees. All wasnít lost. I knew that the trail through the draw would offer me a pair of chances to possibly get a shot. But the deer never appeared in the first shooting lane. Instead he and the other little guy began chasing the poor ladies all around in the timber. I still had hope. They might come back out the way they entered, or even better, exit the trees and come toward me. There also was the chance they would leave via the trail and be lost to my sight. Instead the little buck drove two of the does out into the bean field north of the stand. I saw them momentarily before they disappeared from my line of sight behind the cover of the draw they had just exited.

But the third doe entered the field and turned back to the west, more into my open line of fire. I was counting my blessings, knowing the big buck would soon be on her trail. But just as quickly as the scenario unfolded in my favor, it all collapsed as the buckís aggressive charge quickly turned the doe back onto her friendsí route.

I had the buck in my sights for a split second as he made the same turn. That was just long enough for my trigger finger to react before my brain did. I squeezed off one round at the big guy quartering away from me as he started to enter a full run.

I knew I had not only missed him, but blew any chance that I might again see him that morning. Still my mind wandered and I dreamed of walking down to the bottom field and seeing him lying just beyond the tree line.

Unfortunately it was just a dream. He was nowhere to be found. Fortunately there was no blood trail, meaning my ill-fated shot had not wounded the monster.

So like, I said, Iím sitting there Sunday going through my woe-is-me routine. Here I was, running on empty because of lack of sleep. I was getting shutout in day nine of the 11-day season. So I was trying to justify my failures. I at least could find some positives. My laziness was proven, as I had not had to make any effort to find, track and retrieve a deer. My pocketbook was safe, as my failure had ensured I would not have to shell out the bucks for a buck to be mounted.

But all these mind games quickly evaporated as yet another awesome day of deer hunting unfolded. The weather was once again beautiful. It was so peaceful sitting there sharing time with mother nature. And oh yea, there were tons of deer moving in every direction. After a slow few days opening the season, the last three or four outings were action packed.

I got to watch bucks jousting, does snoozing, a big guy go horns to teeth with an approaching coyote, and so much more. So itís hard to say I had nothing to show for my efforts. I had plenty to show if I could only find a way to transfer those images I viewed with my eyes onto video. I donít take the camera with me anymore. For one, it costs too much to risk dropping from the tree stand, plus itís the same as a jinx, meaning Iíll never see any of these great things when I have the weapon to record them with.

Weíre printing early this week because of Thanksgiving so I may get one last chance Tuesday afternoon to go make some more memories.


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