End Of Season Indecision
December 10, 2014
Last night, I wrapped up my last bowhunt of the season.
I spent the last two hours of daylight in my blind, sitting patiently as the sun set. There’s always a sense of melancholy at the last sit in a particular stand, so my mind drifted with it as the evening wore on. A couple of does happened down the only downwind trail, slipping up behind the blind. They bounced off, about 40 or 50 yards, blowing and stomping, and pretty much making sure no other deer would happen along the general area. Every 20 minutes or so, it was like they’d remember I was there and start blowing again. I couldn’t see them, and probably couldn’t have shot them if I did.
They kept it up until it was too dark to see my pins.
I didn’t care.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I could have shot deer from my shooting bench on Sunday night. I could have shot deer from my porch on Monday evening. But I wanted to make one last hurrah with the bow… and so last night, I did exactly that. It was good.
This morning, as I was making my second cup of coffee, I looked out the back window and saw three deer under the feeder. I picked up the Leicas and slipped out the back door for a closer look. There were two spikes (one was pretty big for a spike) and a little four-pointer. I looked at the rifle in the corner and left it there. I watched for a few moments, then went and got my coffee and returned to work.
Tonight, I wrapped up my work day and started into the bedroom to get my camo. The motivation wasn’t really there. Instead, I sat out on the patio with the binoculars and the Savage. At about 5:30, two big does fed out. One, in particular, would have been a good deer to kill… swaybacked and a little grey in the face. I kept telling myself I was holding out for one last chance at Funkhorn, or at the big eight. I’ve got one more evening to hunt, I figured, so I could afford to be picky.
I watched the does for about a half hour. Eventually, the larger of the two drove the smaller one off of the corn, and she sulked away, stiff-legged into the pasture. As it started to get darker, the old doe started looking into the woods. I put the glasses on her, and suddenly wished I were in the stand, 80 yards away, instead of sitting here at 170 yards. I wanted to see what she was looking at, but I couldn’t see from here. It could be a coon, or the other doe could be coming back. Or, it could be a buck.
We’re past due for some rut activity. It looked like, with the cold snap around Thanksgiving, that things were starting up. A couple of the bucks I skinned at the Smokehouse were pretty musky. But then it warmed back up and stayed warm. But they’ve got to start sooner or later. As I watched the doe on full alert, I hoped that’s what was happening. I didn’t need full-blown rut… just enough to make one of those good bucks a little stupid.
As I scanned the hillside, my pocket buzzed. I’d promised to Skype with my daughter, and it was my reminder. I answered the phone, and as I did, I caught a flash of movement from the edge of the trees. Like two racehorses, a pair of bucks chased one another down the hill, across my line of sight, and out toward the pasture. The glimpse was fleeting, but it was enough to see visible antlers on both deer, even in the dimming light from 170 yards away. I tried to raise the glasses, but the one downside of these Leicas is that their weight and balance make one-handed use a challenge. I gave up, as the deer had already disappeared, and finished my call.
I hung up the phone, and shooting light was nearly gone. From the edge of the pasture, I caught a movement. With the binos, I was able to make out a deer’s body. He stepped into a clearing, briefly, and I saw that it was Funkhorn! I reached for the rifle, but he stepped up, into the trees, and was gone. As the last glimmers of usable light dropped their glow on the caliche rocks, I saw a deer walk out under the feeder. I glassed him hard, and for a moment, I was pretty sure I saw antlers. Had Funkhorn come back to feed a bit, his rival vanquished?
I put the rifle on him, but even with the Leupold cranked to 9 power, I couldn’t be sure it was him. In the fading light, it was difficult to tell. I slipped the safety, and my finger danced around the edges of the trigger guard. The deer turned to offer a perfect quartering away opportunity…
But I couldn’t. Or I wouldn’t. I don’t know. But I didn’t.
I’m supposed to be at a party tomorrow evening, and if conscience is any sort of guide, I shouldn’t go hunting. But one more deer would give me plenty of meat to take to Kat this weekend. I could probably have it killed and skinned with time to spare for the party. But there’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip, and things do come up. I could end up tracking a wounded deer into the night. I could not see anything until right at dark, which would push me right up to party time. I wonder how they’d feel if I showed up at the Camp Wood Bookworm Society (our book club) Christmas party with blood from elbow to fingertip?
And if I did hunt tomorrow, would I shoot?
I guess I won’t know until tomorrow gets here. There are probably worse quandaries to have.