By Mike Giles
The Meridian Star
“Your Time Will Come”. These were the words of wisdom that came from a modern day outdoorsman and country philosopher who also happened to be my grandfather, James Patrick Nolen.
I started tagging along with Pawpaw on deer hunting outings at a very early age and spent my weekends and holidays with him hunting for that big buck. No place in Mississippi was too far for us to drive in our quest. Back in those days there weren't many deer and we didn't have green fields and feeders. Instead we hunted woods, thickets and swamps, wherever we could find deer sign.
I saw lots of deer but never the elusive buck! Many times Pawpaw would come back with a deer. I would get discouraged often, but he would tell me, “Your time will come.”
"Sure," I thought to myself, never for a minute believing it as my dry spell continued.
My grandfather showed me how to find fresh buck sign in the form of rubs on trees and scrapes on the ground. “You’ve got to be still and quiet to see those bucks before they spot you.”
One year we found heavily used deer trails in a narrow scope of woods and erected tree stands just off the trail. This will be the year, I thought as we had found the perfect stand site. We had done our homework and I was ready.
Opening day came and went once again with nary a sight nor sound of a buck. We missed the Thanksgiving Day hunt, only to find out that someone had killed an eight point buck on my stand. Just my luck, we’d done the work and somebody else killed my buck!
“You’ve got to go every chance you get and sooner or later you’ll see that big buck,” Pawpaw said. His words didn’t sooth my disappointment, however.
Another time we were late getting to our stand at a deer club near Port Gibson. We hitched a ride with my Uncle Don, but we were delayed as he put out other standers. By the time we got to our stand another man had killed a buck right at my stand. I couldn’t believe it!
I was beginning to think that all bucks were ghosts. Pawpaw was firm in his beliefs though. “Keep on living,” he said. “Your time will come.”
Even one of my aunts asked why I kept getting up early and going out in the cold when I had never gotten a deer. “You never kill anything,” she said. “Why do you go?”
If that wasn’t enough, I had just about named all of the does around Daleville. I could tell you which ridge they would come down and what time to expect them.
After five years of hunting, I had never even caught a glimpse of an antler in the woods. But I kept practicing, honing my shooting skills and learning to read the woods and lay of the land. Then one day I was hunting alone, just easing down a ridge when I found some hot deer sign.
It had been raining all day and there was a light drizzle falling when I found a fresh scrape. Pawpaw Pat had already told me how to search for and find a buck’s scrape line, as well as how to set up and hunt them when I found one.
I could tell the scrape was fresh because the rain had not washed the buck’s tracks out, or smoothed the freshly pawed earth. After traveling down the ridge and finding four more “hot” scrapes all in a row, I started pondering my strategy for the next day.
Arriving at the pine ridge the next day, I eased back into the edge of a thicket so I could observe the ridge where the scrapes were located. After a short wait, all my senses were heightened upon hearing the loud crack of a limb snapping. I dared not move or flinch an inch as my senses were on full alert.
Could this be my day? I could only think back to my grandfather’s words once again, “your time will come.” Just then a doe appeared out of the thicket from my right.
Slowly one doe after another came under the fence and passed right in front of me until the eleventh and final doe passed by me.
Crack! Suddenly I heard a limb snap and a loud pop come out of the thicket to my right from where the does had appeared. Then it happened. What I had searched for through five long years suddenly appeared before my eyes. Antlers appeared seemingly from out of nowhere, as the buck came through the barbed wire fence.
It took the buck only a few seconds to come into range. I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest! Drawing a bead on him, I slowly squeezed the trigger of my Remington 870. As the shotgun roared, the buck collapsed instantly and my time had finally come! Forty years later I’m still chasing bucks and enjoying God’s great outdoors!
Contact Mike Giles at 601-917-3898 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.