|Gamelands, evening of archery opener.|
|The Author enjoying a crisp October morning perched in a tree|
I think there is a general consensus on deer hunting; many believe a truly seasoned hunter will pass on more deer than he shoots. There are some variations on this thought, some old timers might say “if you haven’t passed on a deer you haven’t hunted long enough.” You get the idea. Hunters mark their success in different ways. Ultimately, I think most are happy to fill the freezer, some don’t care if it’s a buck or a doe. Some only wish to fill the freezer with something carrying a trophy rack on its skull. Some just live for the thrill of the chase and even seeing a deer marks a successful outing.
These first two Saturdays of archery season have had me out in the bush three times. All three times having had close encounters with deer, specifically doe. For me, even getting within close proximity of a deer is an achievement. This is a creature with a thousand instincts I don’t have. It lives to avoid danger, and live another day. It displays unbelievable patience and caution. It moves without making a sound and miraculously blends in where ever it goes. Its senses are unbelievably effective, and while you might fool their eyes, and beat their ears, I defy anyone to get the best of a deer’s nose. So when I can blend in to my surroundings, and I can be silent enough in my stalk or stand, and play the wind well enough to get one move ahead of this animal, I feel more in tune with nature than most could imagine.
I did not shoot any of the doe. This morning I had a golden opportunity. I had seen two of them moseying towards my stand. Nibbling here and there, stopping, sniffing the breeze, looking around, and listening. Then taking a few more steps my way and repeating the process. Upon getting to within easy 15 or so yards, a “chip shot” for most archers, I realized the doe were in fact much younger than I’d first thought. Nearly full sized but very lean. The first doe came right into my tree and offered me a perfect shot 3 times. If she survives rifle season, she’ll make for a nice harvest next year. I’m not starving; I didn’t need to take her. Being closer to and not seeing any sign of tailing bucks, I gave a quick “Hey there!” and she backed off right quick.
|The two young doe. Photo courtesy of my cell phone!|
Another hunter might have taken the shot, and with the season so new, may yet still. For my own part, I didn’t feel like it was my cup of tea. But that decision was mine and mine alone. I feel archery hunting for deer is one of the more calculated versions of hunting, and for those of you who don’t know, it is the first shift of all the deer hunting seasons. We set the tone for our fall & winter in those first few weeks when the woods belong to us. And every hunter takes the shots they will for whatever reasons they have. I’m no elitist, and I’m no trophy hunter, I respond to the situation as I see fit.
Every hunter, no matter their quarry, steps into the field prepared to accept the responsibility of taking the life of another living creature. This is the reality we all accept. All will appreciate that intimate moment in their own way, and hopefully we all arrive at that moment in the most ethical way, with respect for ourselves, the land, and most of all, the animal.
As stated earlier, many hunters have different ideas on what constitutes a “successful” hunt. Those series of moments in the field are what construct our memories of times well spent with our mother nature. Sometimes the experience boils down to that one moment, and sometimes it is not until that “moment of truth,” that we learn why we are there, and what it means to us. The quiet introspection following a “successful” day in the bush or on the water is the true value of the experience.
I’m going to tell you folks, it is in those experiences, we are offered the truth about ourselves.