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The end of a successful deer season

Last Sunday was the last day of the last deer season.

Readers who do not hunt deer are probably breathing a sigh of relief. They do not have to hear about my deer hunting adventures and misadventures for the next several months.

To those who wait anxiously for the next installment, the suspense is over. I did not get the big one, nor did anyone else. He was spotted over the weekend still running with his harem. There will be many fawns carrying his genetics next spring.

It would have been nice to get such an incredible animal with my bow, but I also feel good about him still being there, older and wiser next year. I have memories of the time spent in the woods that will warm the coldest nights and pass the hot summer days until I can again get back into the hunt.

The first time I saw what became known as "Walter's Buck," we scared each other. I was walking through the timber, early in the season, when he jumped up from a patch of brush and bounded over the hill. He was apparently sleeping when I walked up on him because I was only a few feet away when he took off. I was too surprised to even lift my bow before he was out of sight. He is the biggest deer I have ever seen. That pretty much set the tone for bow season. I had to have him or nothing at all.

During the rut, I saw him a few more times. He was always in the same general vicinity. Other people saw him, but never outside a very small area. He never seemed to travel more than half a mile from one side of his territory to the other. It is said, a dominant buck will range five miles or more gathering a group of does, eating, drinking and sleeping.

I think this deer is the exception. His timber is bordered on two sides by hay fields, and one side by pasture. The creek runs through his timber and out into a field covered with cedar trees. He has no reason to venture out more than a few feet from the cover of the woods. He has food, water, a nice place to sleep and more does than even he could service in a season are in his timber. Only rarely does one of those strange humans venture into his area and when they do, they are more concerned about cows than deer.

I had two tags to fill during bow season. I only thought about filling the one. After passing up several nice bucks and dozens of does, I finally shot a nice fat mature doe late in November. I knew if I did not shoot something, eventually season would end and I would have nothing to show for it but a bunch of unfilled tags. She has been some good eating.

During shotgun season, the main emphasis is on thinning out the doe population. If someone sees a buck they want to hang on the wall, they are welcome to take it, but we concentrate on filling the freezers and getting the deer numbers down to a herd that can remain healthy and well fed. The young bucks are passed over and fortunately, "my buck" never showed himself. I could not have blamed anybody for trying to take him.

The season has closed and a great time was had by all who participated in our hunts. Several nice deer were taken, but more importantly, the year ended with no major injuries and good friends got together for good times. Getting something is not nearly as important as the hunt itself. I did manage to get enough meat to fill the freezer so the children will not go hungry this winter.

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