he most important thing to decide when a person is going hunting is just exactly what they are after. I do not mean trying to decide if a person is hunting elephants or squirrels, but if a person is hunting deer, just which deer that might be.
Sunday morning, I had my mind all made up on what I was going after. A friend, Vince, is up bow hunting from Louisiana. If I were to get a big fat doe, I could have it processed, made into jerky and steaks, and ready to be shipped south with Vince to Bart and Kent before the end of the week. If I could pull this off, they would owe me crawfish and shrimp in return. It is hard to beat a good plan.
The hard part is following through on a good plan.
It was getting light when I settled behind a tree only 10 feet or so inside the fence that separated the timber from the pasture. I could hear deer running through the dry leaves behind me in the woods and occasionally got a glimpse of antlers and tails in the cedar pasture in front of me. I could see some distance up and down the fence and had two good shooting lanes extending out into the pasture in front of me. If a deer stopped, I had a good chance at a score.
Sitting perfectly still and enjoying my good fortune of perfect weather, perfect position and deer activity, I saw a doe move into my first shooting lane. I pulled up and was ready to release when she jerked her head sharply back and looked behind her. There had to be a buck chasing her, and he might be a big one. She moved over to my second shooting lane and a nice buck ran into the first. He stood 20 yards away, broadside, providing a perfect shot. Bart and Kent could get their own doe, I was going to get a fine looking buck.
I pulled up on him and he looked behind him. In any given area, there is always one dominant buck. He is the biggest and the baddest guy in the area. He has the largest set of antlers in the area and never looks back. Everybody is watching out for him. When I saw this good-sized buck look behind him while he was in pursuit of a doe, I knew the big boy was right behind him. I readied myself for where he would come out of the cedar trees into my shooting lane as the doe ran up the fenceline, out of sight, with the buck right behind her.
The old dominant buck may have been following the other two, but he stopped short of coming into view. I waited at full draw for several minutes until my muscles could not longer maintain but he did not show.
I sat on a conveniently fallen log and contemplated my choices and the bad luck of Kent and Bart. They were so close to steaks and jerky if not for their bad luck.
Movement caught my attention at the fence toward the bottom of the hill. A deer was walking right next to the fence, stopping periodically, and continuing. From a distance, I could tell it was a fairly good-sized deer, probably a big doe. There might be jerky in the plans yet.
I got into position and was ready to pull my bow when I saw two little spike antlers. He needed to grow several more years. I watched him closely as he walked toward me. He stopped every 15 or 20 feet and smelled the top barbed wire on the fence. He passed within 10 feet of me, stopping to smell the fence all the way up the hill and out of sight. Twenty minutes or so later, he came back, doing the same thing, and again did not see me.
It was a great day of hunting, especially being that close to a wild animal and not being detected, but if a person is going to be a serious hunter, they need to decide what to get and get them when they have the opportunity.
Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.