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Excitement of meeting old rivals

wo years ago during bow season, I spent a fair amount of time hunting two particular bucks.

They looked very much alike and had rather distinctive antlers. I assumed they were twins, probably four years old. They always traveled the same general area from the cedar pasture, across the paintball timber, past the cabin and into the heavy timber below the big dam.

I saw them many times during the fall. I even came close to them a few times. I almost got a shot one time. Last year, a friend of mine, Kent, got one of them along the edge of the cedar pasture. He was bigger than the year before and made a great trophy, as well as a whole lot of good eating.

Sunday, I am fairly certain I saw the other brother. He would be six years old now if it is the same deer. He is a big bruiser of a deer with a spectacular rack. The unique shape is the same; just larger.

A light mist was falling when I got into position at the edge of the thick timber below the dam. It was late afternoon and I was hoping the deer would move out of the bedding area into the open before darkness and rain set in. I hunched up on a log behind some rose bushes checking for open areas where I could shoot when the deer came by. A light breeze blew in from the north bringing with it the smell of fall. Each season has its own aroma and I love the musty pungent smells that roll out of the timber at this time of year. It smells like hunting season.

I was enjoying the quiet when I noticed movement up past the cabin. Four deer were coming out of the paintball timber headed in my general direction. At 400 yards, I could tell one of the deer was a big buck. I am not great at judging distances, but I was sitting just down the hill from our 400-yard rifle target as they walked by the shooting bench.

They continued down the hill and across the pasture, heading toward the heavy timber. As they got closer, I could tell there were two does, a smaller buck, and what appeared to be the twin of Kent's deer.

This is the part of the hunt that separates the men from the boys. When a person sees a nice trophy buck a hundred yards away and closing the distance at a steady pace, it takes real composure. This is not the time to drop your arrow, trip over a log, or develop an uncontrollable sneeze. It is important to remember to breathe. Control the shaking knees and racing heart. Rather than come straight at me, they turned and went into some heavy brush just to my left. A major trail crossed the creek from that heavy cover and emerged within 10 yards of where I was hiding. I hunkered down, waiting, knowing they could suddenly pop out into the creek and charge over the bank toward me. I was ready.

Nothing happened for several minutes. I could hear movement in the brush but could not see anything. The light breeze was in my favor so they could not smell me, but any movement might spook them the other direction. I was getting stiff from sitting perfectly still, remembering to breathe and doing my best to avoid coughing, sneezing, or any other noisy bodily function. Suddenly one of the does appeared at the bank and dropped down and into the creek. She was followed quickly by the other doe and the smaller buck. I crouched lower and drew my bow. The first doe bounded up the bank meeting me almost face to face about the same time the big buck approached the crossing on the other side. I got a nice glimpse of him over the doe's shoulder before he spun and returned to the thickest part of the timber.

I do not think he saw me but he may have been a bit startled by the lead doe turning suddenly and running over the two deer behind her. It was nice to see him again. Hopefully we can continue our rivalry another day.

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