While you are reading this, an oversize whitetail buck deer is trying out his newly polished antlers on a sapling right here in East Mississippi. The 200 pounder has a Roman nose and a sagging belly and keen instincts that have kept him from sight of scads of hunters over the six or so years of his life.

There are 18 inches between the curves of his massive antlers. This year he will use all his practiced instincts in an attempt to avoid hunters one more season. And this year hunters will use their experience and skills to get a shot at him.

Given the efforts on both sides of this life or death undertaking, luck will enter the equation in the form of good luck for the hunter and/or bad luck for the buck and he will finally fall. Will that hunter be you?

I’m not going to tell you here how to bag that old and wise buck. Most of us know how. We hunt where big bucks are likely to be. We plant food plots and then hunt trails that lead to the fields where does go to feed during daylight hours.

We scout for big buck sign. We figure out his habits. We wear camouflage and cover scents and carry good binoculars. We hunt the rut and the very, very cold days of January when other hunters are watching football games. We may use dogs to get his scent and jump him from his bed.

Then, if we are lucky (note the word) we get a glimpse of the monster buck and maybe even a shot and the very luckiest of these highly skilled and experienced hunters will bag him.

Lucky Break

Yes, I know. Now and then an unskilled and careless hunter will be the recipient of an overdose of luck and bag the trophy buck that was earned by others more deserving. But those who have paid the price have the better chance and once they take the big buck they have more to justify their celebrations. They have invested more in the hunt; time and effort and money.

Just looking at the money aspect here, yesterday a friend in Texas called me and, as he is fond of doing this time of year, ribbed me about the cost of venison. He begins by asking if I got an animal, this time an elk because he knew I just returned from seeking them. But by Valentine’s Day his jeering will relate to deer.

“No,” I replied, no elk this year. You only get one every five or six years and I got one two years ago.!

“So they cost you about $20,000.00 apiece, right?” he asked as always.

His kidding set me to thinking about the dollar cost, although that doesn’t usually occupy my thoughts except when I am considering where I will find the dollars to make the next hunt.

Total it Up

If you add every single cost of a harvested deer or elk, all the out-of-pocket dollars plus depreciation on the truck and all equipment and trips to sight in and plant oats and phone calls and maps and magazine subscriptions and food and insurance and the olive oil to cook it in and on and on, you might arrive at a figure approaching $20,000.00 an animal for elk and a lesser but substantial amount for a deer.

My thoughts revealed how I will reply next time to his recurring pestiferous question. “Yes,” I will say. “It’s some of the least expensive recreation around for the value I get.”

He will see that reply as simply going along with his intended humorous exaggeration. He can’t understand, because his vision stops at the dollar signs.

He won’t understand the philosopher who said wisely that it is the pursuit and not the kill that is the essence of hunting. It’s the maps and the magazines and the olive oil.

He won’t get it. But just one more time I will have reminded myself just what the outdoor life means to me.

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