Saturday, December 7, 2013

Another Year and no Deer

It's a good thing that success for a true sportsman does not mean harvesting game--though that's not a bad thing either--it's the act of the hunt. So this year was a good year. I got in three days of hunting, all of them good days, and that's more than I've often had; there's just so little time.
One of my days was a cold, crystal clear morning after a night of with a bit of snow. There was just a hint of light snow filtering down through the trees--more like dew freezing as daylight came on. My hunting partner referred to it as "movie snow" because it was more like a special effect than an act of nature. The setting was a mixed hardwood and conifer forest filled with the sign of game. That was worth getting up at 5 AM and dressing in layers upon layers to see. Yeah, the game sign was about all we saw; though I did briefly see about 5 does, 200 yards out and running full-tilt through heavy cover--not a decent shot to be made.
My thanks to my friend who takes great pleasure in getting me out to have fun at his hunting camp or aboard his boat--he makes me have fun! Years ago some aging friends advised my wife and me to make young friends to help keep us young. This is one such friend.
My other days were with one of my dearest friends. We met in high school, became instant friends and I can't recall single cross words ever spoken between us. He was best-man in our wedding and I was given the great privilege of performing his daughter's wedding--that's a special friend.
Hunting with him is a treat--nothing but the executive class hunt! He owns a pretty good chunk of land and manages it well to produce quality deer hunting with enough decent bucks to make a pretty good trophy or two. There are also plenty of antlerless deer which need to be thinned out every year. He has stands dotting his land and the one I've hunted from with him are pure class--cot, chairs, cook stove. I've harvested a couple deer there over the years, each within 2 hours of daylight; but this year it was not to be. Two mornings of watching the trails from his top-of-the-line stand (breakfast cooked in the stand) and we saw NOTHING! We also put in some time on the ground and still nothing. If we'd brought .22 rifles we could have each shot a limit of squirrels, but that was it.
Hunting with him is always a treat. This year it was something of bittersweet as he's in a battle for his life, and had to bargain with his doctors to have deer season free. Next week he begins the next round in his battle and will spend weeks, if not months in semi-isolation. My two days with him, in spite of seeing only one deer--another high speed, too far for a shot sightings--was priceless. We spent one lunch time watching some videos of our younger days--oh, the fun, the only electronics were the ham radio sets! It was a part of the day's hunt.
So it was a good season. My best sporting experiences have really been far more about time with nature and with friends than about putting meat in the freezer of a trophy on the wall. I've seen the sun come up and shadows flee from a high valley while I listened to the turkeys I was pursuing flying in the wrong direction; seen a buck so close I could have jabbed him with the muzzle of the shotgun, and had many other great times; but it was more about the friends and the experience, not the game. Many thanks to all my friends!

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