The time comes along some time after our number of deer seasons gets over into double digits. For some it arrives when we count our deer hunting in decades instead of years. But eventually we embrace the truth about it all. The best part of deer hunting isn’t to get the deer. We’ve known it all along really, but in our early impassioned haste to bag a buck, the aesthetic elements of our hunt tagged along in the background. It was a wise Spanish philosopher who said, “I kill to have hunted.”

This truth has rarely come into my thoughts as vividly as it has during the current deer season. Now we all have periods of what we call luck. But this deer season is turning out to be one wherein my lucky stars have not only dimmed but have apparently left the heavens for some distant universe.

My waits overlooking my lush, green oat patches have not produced so much as a sound of footfalls. Half a dozen trips were made more interesting by a little paperback by Patrick McManus called “The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw” that I carry in my pack in case the action slows.

So I moved on to a ladder stand in the creek bottom where the deer are said to be feeding on the big acorn crop, even though some of the acorns are floating these days. The only footsteps I have heard were made by a large bobcat that came in to learn if the young deer that my bleat calling imitated was small or slow enough to catch.

Deer aplenty



Then there were three trips to Noxubee County. Saw plenty of deer there but nary a shooter. And here is the rub. On two of the trips my hunting partners killed very large 8-pointers on stands I had sat on earlier hunts. Then Chairman Fate forgot that I had already had my share and repeated this scenario on a Kemper County hunt. I saw only a doe and a barely legal buck. My host later got on the same stand and bagged … you guessed it; another big eight pointer.

My dog hunts have produced a doe with two healthy fawns, fat on her milk.

Am I going to fume and fuss and tear my clothes here? Not a chance. I will go back again and again, hunting at every opportunity. Yes, I have enough deer and elk in the freezer to do me another year. But I’ll be out there. Yes it appears the gods are taking their favors elsewhere. But…well, just take yesterday for instance.

I checked the wind direction a day in advance and then at the last minute; just right for my greenfield stand on the edge of the creek. I slipped in three hours before dark and put out buck scent around my shoot house. Within minutes a splash in the creek 15 feet away startled me. A wood duck drake, arguably nature’s most colorful creature, and his mate had landed and were swimming downstream. I watched through 10 power binoculars as they paddled around the bend.

Before the lump in my throat subsided the great horned owl that has claimed that part of the creek bottom all season started warming up. The quiet monster bird likes to get going hours before dark, psyching himself/herself up for a night’s hunt. Lately the owl has attracted a partner, a gabby fowl who is unhappy with the fact that its barred owl cousins are ten times louder and who flits about from tree to tree trying to enhance his five allotted hoots with slang and expletives.



Social nuisance



While trying to show off, this frustrated fowl, doubtless a young male, is actually just making a fool of himself, so much so that the quiet original resident owl rarely talks with him any more. Facing such rejection, he had flown off to pester others of his kind yesterday and left my resident friend to serenade me with quiet, legitimate owl music; five notes to the measure.

At sunset I heard the whistle/squeal of a wood duck. May this sound ever grace our southern swamps. A couple of noisy splashes and another pair swam past me, they too headed purposefully downstream. Only this time there was a commotion at the creek’s bend. A pair of hens that had been swimming upstream met the couple and immediately the three females started squabbling and pecking at each other.

Similar behavior has been observed in other species, several females scratching at the eyes of rivals in the presence of a male. I remember that time long ago when I was … Wait. That is an entirely different story for another day; or better yet just to be left untold.

Darkness came at last without a single deer appearing.

On my way out a chorus of coyotes led by an old rogue bass singer serenaded me. I have heard these canines in at least six states and I have never heard one with a voice as deep as the one in that pack. Could this have been a coyote/domestic dog cross? Who knows?

I walked to my truck by the light of a brand new full moon. Another good deer hunt.

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