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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Walt-- Showdown at the pond

I woke up way too early and found myself sitting alone in the dining hall, killing time before I headed out for the beaver pond. Phil Williams showed up and grabbed a quick bite before suiting up to leave.

“I thought I’d get out and do some scouting this morning.” He said.

I put him on to a few places by showing him on the big map. I also showed him the stand locations that were probably going to be used by the guys already here.

“Duff usually heads over this way.” I said. “I was floating around before you guys showed up, but I may hit the beaver pond this morning and then scout this face of the ridge before coming back for lunch. If you drop by the pond around eleven, I can show you a few spots.”

“I’d like that,” said Phil.”I brought a couple of stands.”

“The beaver pond is a good spot to leave one.” I said. “Walk out with me, leave the stand, and then it will be there when you come back from scouting.

That was how we left it. Phil grabbed a metal hang-on stand and a bag of screw-in steps and his bow and we headed off towards the pond. Fifty yards before the pond, I stopped and showed him a good spot to break off and start scouting. He left the stand propped against a tree and I continued on. Phil sat on a stump and waited for the light.

I settled in at the pond and watched the morning slowly appear. This was not a real good stand for watching sunrises or sunset. It was nestled in a bottom between two ridges. Instead, the light was slow to come and quick to leave. I liked that it meant the deer could linger longer in the morning and come earlier in the evening. It did not take long for the pond to start coming alive after the sky started to brighten. I heard Phil take off, but never saw him.

It had been dry for several weeks, so there were not many places to water. At the far end of the pond, a fox came out and wiggled through the cattails. In the gloom, I could not tell if it was a red or a grey. A momma coon followed shortly thereafter, with two noisy young in tow. The wood ducks left, a couple of mallards came in. The beavers came out of their den, and the squirrels started making a serious ruckus.

At exactly eight thirty, I spied a doe that came from out of the cedars across the pond and carelessly stood in the water and drank her fill before wandering off. It was probably a forty or fifty yard shot—maybe thirty-five at her closest approach. However, the intervening cover of cattails made it impossible. She had nearly left when she looked over her shoulder and stamped. At first I could not figure out how she had winded me. Then a funny feeling hit me on the back of the neck, and I knew why she had been looking my way.

The bunker was good cover on three sides and open to the rear. I had put up a stool in one corner, and my attention had been kept along the length of the bunker and over the pond. That had left my left side open to the woods. Something was looking at that vast open expanse of camo. It honestly hurts to try and send your eyes that far into their corners. I took shallow breaths and slowly moved my head. There, beyond the corner of my glasses, stood a buck. He was not very big, and he had a spindly rack of seven points that was quite uneven. He was about 20 feet away, and totally unaware of my presence. He was focused on the doe.

I thought about trying a snap shot on the buck, but decided it was not worth risking. As things developed I might try to take him, but my guess was they would not. The buck was smitten with the doe. The doe seemed quite perturbed by his presence. The buck lowered his head and stepped towards the doe, for a moment passing behind a cedar tree and letting me turn a bit on my seat. I brought myself to half draw and began angling for a opening. In another step, the buck was now past me and in the open. I came to full draw and held, while I tried to figure out how to get an extra six inches of height to shoot over the side of the bunker. By shifting my weight and moving one leg, I figured I could become semi-erect. It would not be a classic posture, but I could probably get a shot.

I looked over at the doe, who was still unaware of me. I made my move and at the same time came to full draw. I held on a spot between two saplings where I expected the buck’s foreleg to appear next. It did.

I now was in the unlikely position of having two deer, one buck and one doe, in shooting range. Both were now presenting me shots, and both seemed absorbed in each other as if I really did not matter. To make matters worse, I really did not need or want either deer.

“You know, “ I began, as I let down my bow and sat back down. “You guys really need to get your priorities straight. I’ve been counting coup on both you, and you seem utterly oblivious.”

The doe was smart and made a beeline out of there. The buck, on the other hand, turned toward me and eyed me.

“Is there a problem here?” I asked. “I just gave you a pass, brother. I suggest you take it.”

Now you have to understand that I have been talking to deer most of my life. Some deer run, some deer just stand and let you ramble on for a while. This one gave me a look I did not like. To make matters worse, I realized I was in the corner of the bunker and I had no way to get out.

“Shoo! You four-legged bastard!” I yelled. I drew myself up to my full height and made myself as big as possible. The buck bolted and withdrew about ten yards and then stopped again.

“You heard me.” I said. “Vamos!” That convinced him and he trotted off after the doe.

Another small doe came by a couple of hours later. She did not drink at the pond, but rather moved through hurriedly. Five minutes later Phil showed up. I was still trying to make sense of my morning.

“Interrupt anything?” Phil asked.

“I’m hunting from a treestand from here on out.” I said.


Blogger vsearch-406E1 said...

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8:42 AM  

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