Every hunt is different, which is why it is so exciting. One constant is the stillness of the woods or field. This morning, I was propped up against a tree looking over a glen with about a 160-degree view of fall leaves.
A little birdie climbed a nearby tree and I tried to make out his coloring as he climbed bark in shadows. I heard squirrels tromping through leaves as they foraged for acorns. I sat there almost long enough to solve the world’s problems. Checking the time, it happened to be three minutes before the appointed time Byron and I planned to rendezvous at the fork in the trails. Arriving there, I stood awhile listening to a very light wind. I decided to walk into the clearing about 40 yards up the leaf-carpeted road.
Once I entered the space, crows circled above cawing like crazy. Were they talking about me or some other being in the woods? I figured Byron would be along soon and I was ready to go. My mind had left the hunt. My rifle was slung on my left shoulder (I shoot lefty) and I held my backpack and seat in my right hand. I was standing in the road, clearing on either side, admiring the flora like a dork. I had assumed the physical stance of a commuter waiting on a train platform.
The Chocolate Buck
A sound directed my attention to the road, and down the hill I saw the swish of a tree branch moving. I heard the familiar sound of a person walking on leaves, as I was expecting Byron. I redirected my attention at the clearing and some thoughts I’ve since forgotten. My peripheral vision detected a figure and I turned to ask Byron, “Did you see anything?” Instead, it was a buck. A huge buck about 25 yards away, if even that far. His eyes were cast on what he was noshing. I was stunned. His coat was a deep lustrous dark chocolate brown. He was so big that for a millisecond, I wondered how a mule deer was in Georgia. But his face was clearly that of a white-tailed deer.
The dark color of the coat was just outstanding. I wondered how I could get a shot in this seemingly infeasible situation: he was straight on, not broadside; he could hear me breathing if I had actually breathed; I was standing straight up right in front of him; I was holding items in one hand and the rifle was not on him. I decided to try kneeling down. My knee bent slightly and he immediately raised his eyes to mine. There was a flicker of surprise and then a long stare. Eye to eye we were locked. I wondered if he would move and then in a flash, he turned tail and let out a woot. His breath was visible with his alert sound and he was gone.
The point of this story is simple. Always be prepared and keep your mind on the hunt. And always be thankful for what you get to see.