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September 20, 2007

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

Swarming mosquitoes, sweaty 70-degree temperatures and impenetrable faunaÖ The list could go on and on, but it doesnít really matter because I ignored all of the reasons I donít normally go bow hunting in September and headed to the woods September 15th.

The cool weather Friday night at the football game may have had something to do with it. Perhaps it was that opening morning hunter in the driveway at my neighborís, the taxidermist. Possibly I was motivated by the fact that my wife now has purchased a bow and was wasting no time in trying to increase her monopolization of the wall space out our home with another trophy buck.

Regardless of what made me forget all the reasons not to go to the woods this early, there I was sitting in my stand.

It is difficult for me to type this now, as I have to stop about every four or five letters to scratch a mosquito bite. Apparently my poison ivy medicine doesnít work to stop the itch of bug bites. Maybe the shot I am scheduled to get at the doctorís office later will put me out of my misery.

Maybe if I hadnít gotten down from my perch to saw down those treesÖ I worked up quite a lather from the effort of hacking down thigh-sized elm trees whose growth spurts had totally closed down my shooting lanes on this particular stand. I debated creating such a ruckus, but the two pea-sized holes I had to see through all of the limbs were not allowing me to view the deer.

I got so hot, I stripped down to my short sleeves. Iím unsure if I physically contacted the poison, or if I simply inhaled the nasty stuff because I was huffing and puffing so much. Those little fold-up saws are made to trim limbs, not clear a forest.

One bottle of water wasnít enough to cool me down after I climbed back up into the stand. However, I had to put my coat back and pull my collar up high and tight to decrease the amount of exposed skin I had for use as mosquito landing pads. The bugs laughed at me when I fired up my high-tech Thermacell insect repellent. I knocked down the first waves of the fighter planes, but several kamikaze bugs found their marks.

I was too busy swatting bugs and fanning myself between air raids to notice the first doe wandering in. She was in bow range when I caught a glimpse of her. I think I saw her first when she threw her head in the air trying to wind me. Iím not sure if she didnít like the smell from the scent-free bug zapper, or if I just was overly odorous from sweating so much.

I laughed as she stomped and snorted, before marching in for a closer examination of this strange smell.

It was all I could do to pull the bowstring back, as my arms were worn out from all the sawing. The entire time I was thinking to myself that it is too hot to try to keep deer meat. My decision was made for me when the flock of mosquitoes attacked my face. I let off the bow and massed as many of my attackers as possible, only thinking after the fact that it might hurt a bit to smack myself with the hand covered with archery release wrap.

A fat lip goes away far sooner than bug bites, which swell on me worse than if I had been in a 12-round heavy weight fist fight.

The deer process repeated itself a second time, but this occurrence featured a pair of does working in unison to try and determine what was creating those scents. They tromped in toward the stand on my recently created logging road, stopping to get a whiff of me at each recently felled tree.

I didnít even bother knocking an arrow as the two girls stopped to sniff the ladder on their way out the other side of the path. They seemed to appreciate the hard work it took for me to clear the path they were using to saunter past the hunter whose body odor/ bug repellent fragrance had lured them into range.

Iím sure once the temperature drops to a bearable range, and we get a frost or two to eliminate the bugs and thin the leaves, Iíll be more interested in seeing a similar deer display. I can guarantee I wonít be back in that stand until we do. Of course then I wonít have my unique scent lure working in my favor.


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