Iggy The Tracking Dog Has Deer Feet
November 2, 2016
It started in his first season, as we settled into our new lives in Texas. I’d just killed a whitetail, and really without a thought, I tossed the feet on the ground as I cut them off. Still a puppy, Iggy nevertheless recognized the boon, and quickly made off with one. He chewed it, tossed it in the air, and pranced around proudly with the hunk of bone and fur for days afterward.
That single experience set an expectation, so that any time I killed a deer (or hog, or turkey, etc.), Iggy got the feet. It didn’t take long for him to realize that he couldn’t play with all four at once, so he started carrying them off to “hide”. The field and pastures around Hillside Manor were soon littered with deer feet in various stages of decomposition. We’d be out walking, or working the horses, and he’d bolt into a little patch of agarita or persimmon and emerge with one of his treasures.
When it comes to a bounty of wildlife feet, Texas must have seemed a paradise to the growing dog. I hunted year-round, so after whitetails, it was axis, auodad, and feral hogs. When hunting got slow, my work processing game at the smokehouse kept a steady supply.
Since coming back to NC, of course, that’s slowed a bit. And this season, in particularly, has been off to a slow start. Since settling into the new place, hunting has largely taken a back seat to all the other things that I’ve had to deal with. And when I have gone hunting, opportunities have been limited. The weather has been ridiculously warm, and deer activity on the farm was seriously disrupted by the construction work.
But that’s all starting to come around now. Deer activity at the feeder and food plot has picked up and become pretty consistent. I’m also seeing a lot of activity around my other stands, especially as the rut is starting to come on in our area. That’s the motivation I needed, and after one last go with the crossbow (still un-blooded), I pulled out the Savage.
I passed a couple of shots recently, more out of silly sentiment than any good reason. I think I’m getting a little soft-hearted. I watched a doe for fifteen minutes or more the other night without taking any of a number of easy shots. I raised and lowered the rifle indecisively, time and again, until finally Iggy barked at something back at the house and she scooted into the woods. Another evening, I watched a doe walk out into the pasture and I never even picked up the gun.
The season seemed to be slipping away. Kat hadn’t even had a shot opportunity yet. I’d passed a few, and spent many fruitless hours on stand without seeing anything at all (only to check the cameras and find I’d missed the deer by minutes). The freezer is hardly empty, due to past seasons’ successes, but I can almost see the bottom now. Even worse, I’m pretty much out of steaks and good grilling meat.
So, last night, when the lone doe took a few mincing steps out into the open end of the pasture, I didn’t hesitate. It was the shot I’d been waiting for, since she had no youngsters with her. There was still plenty of shooting light, and I held off until she gave me the perfect angle.
And now, Iggy has deer feet.