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The way to spend Saturday

When the sun rose on Saturday morning, I was sitting in the timber at the edge of my favorite ditch. I had a cool breeze blowing in my face and a clear view of the opposite side as well as the ditch bottom in both directions.

I have been hunting this spot so long, I have the trees named. A person can get bored while bow hunting. Most of the trees have useful names such as "20 Yards" and "30 Yards." Other trees have less useful names that come from a person sitting perfectly still for hours on end. There is Milton, a large oak tree with a burl growth on it. If I have to explain Milton Berle, you are too young.

I rattled my calling antlers together. Nothing happened immediately so I went back to naming trees. I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. A buck was coming in. He was on the other bank and paused just inside "30 Yards." He was a nice enough eight-point, but I was looking for the big one that has been hanging around the area.

He continued to "20 Yards" and stopped broadside to me. This is the shot I practice all summer. He is a good deer. He is heavy, fat and not a bad rack. He stood still for several minutes, trying to find the source of the rattling sound. Eventually he started browsing on bushes and hickory buds. Occasionally he would rub his antlers on a sapling or scratch his ear with his hind foot.

We spent close to a half hour this close and he never knew I was there. When he wandered away, I rattled the antlers together and he ran back to me. If he was this easy to call and hold, the big one might be vulnerable. He finally wandered off and over the next hill.

I waited for 15 minutes or so before I rattled again. When I did, the same buck came charging back at a dead run looking like he was wanting to fight. I finally gave up and decided to move. My big buck was not going to come into my well-prepared trap.

I moved out into the pasture and hid behind a cedar tree in the area the big old guy lives. I rattled every 15 or 20 minutes, waiting for a response. After a couple of hours and nothing happening, I was getting cold and hungry. I stood, retrieved my assorted equipment and stepped out from behind my tree just as a doe jumped the fence into the pasture about a hundred yards down the hill.

Discreetly I stepped back behind my tree and pretended to be invisible. The doe stood staring up the hill as still as a statue. I knew she had spotted me. I rattled my calling antlers together, pretending to be a pair of bucks fighting. She fell for the trick and went strolling on her way.

Seconds later, my big buck jumped the fence into the pasture, following the doe. The highly polished points of his massive rack glistened in the sun. He was followed by a huge eight-point we had seen a few days before, who in turn was followed by a nice ten-point anybody would be proud to hang on the wall.

My heart raced as I rattled again. If the doe would turn up the hill, I could get a shot at my buck, or settle for either of the two lesser ones. She kept right on going into the pasture and toward the creek. When she and my buck disappeared into the creek, the other two stopped. I rattled again, hoping to draw one or both of them into range. They glanced my way and followed the doe and big deer into the creek.

It was a fantastic experience to be able to see three magnificent bucks together, but being so close yet so far away is quite frustrating. In bow hunting, close does put meat on the table or a rack on the wall, but is still worth all the effort. I can think of no better way to spend a Saturday.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthuiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.