It had been six years since I’ve harvested any venison and the Pennsylvania buck season had just ended. It seems I’m always sighting deer while driving in my truck. When hunting buck season around here, you always see doe and if you’re lucky, that one buck. The buck are usually traveling off on their own along secluded routes during this season in late November. If you have seen more than one, then either you have missed or he was out of range.
Having very little time for scouting this last year, I blame myself for not filling my buck tag. Although having little time, I do have a general idea of where the deer cross patterns and main traffic areas are around where I have been before.
I have spent several days out in buck season and only spotted about a handful of doe. With doe season immediately following buck season, it has almost pretty much become a rule in my book that to get a doe you just about have to trip over one because they’re sitting so tight and are so skittish from the just ended Buck season.
It was about 5 a.m. when I arose on the first morning of doe. The air was cold and a heavy frost had blanketed the ground. I thought I would try one of my favorite spots where I know the deer heavily run during the fall harvest season. It’s an old crab-apple orchard which had produced a bountiful crop this year. The high-ground along the wooded edge is where the deer would come and head down toward the old orchard. With no wind I chose to stand along this wood-line.
Patiently waiting with my .270 Winchester, I prayed to the Creator for guidance on this hunt. A few hours had gone by and the once frozen ground had thawed. Life in the orchard seemed scarce that morning. After exhausting a still hunt of moving slowly about the whole wood-line and the primal orchard, I concluded to try another area and followed the trail through the orchard down along a creek bottom. The stream crossed under an old backroad and the trail crossed the road and entered the mouth of a huge ravine… So I followed.
When reaching the top, I crossed the clearing ahead along the woods edge. When reaching the corner of the tract, I turned right to continue along the woods until I saw a pair of hunters further down the opening. Turning toward the woods, I saw more orange and could see two more hunters in the open span on the other side of the woods. Instantly, I realized they were putting on a drive. “I walked right into a deer drive!”, I thought with excitement. Could I have been this fortunate? But,,, I usually never see anybody hunting way back in these woods…? Which way were they driving? As all of these thoughts poured out on top of one another. Squinting, I stopped and observed the direction they were facing which was opposite my direction. I whispered to myself, “The drive is coming right toward me”. I made an about-face and quickly headed back to the corner of the tract from which I came. I cut into the woods between the two clearings of where the hunters stood and I walked the direction opposite them to acquire a safe distance from their range of shot. While walking, I said to myself, “one‘ll get by them and it’ll turn into these woods, and I’ll be waiting.”
I wheeled around after a few steps to get a glimpse of anything… Just then, a doe, charging down the wood-line, jumps a fallen tree and enters the woods I’m in. Instinctively, I shoulder my rifle as if I’ve done this a thousand times a day every-day of my life. I look through the scope and realize she’s too close and moving too fast as I pull the cold stock closer to my cheek and peer down the iron sights under my scope and gently squeeze the trigger off. Sinking the bullet in the rib cage just behind the right shoulder, the deer then runs a little further then horseshoes around me while I’m ratcheting another round in the chamber of my rifle. I watch as she then stops, arches her back, then runs a few more paces and lays down. I look up toward the clearing to where all the orange I had seen a moment ago and,,, there wasn’t anyone… No orange anywhere! In fact further off there was a low fog hovering where there wasn’t before… The clearing was a long empty spanse of overgrowth with not a sign of anyone.
Kneeling down beside the deer, I thanked God for the hunt; the bounty; the instinct instilled deep in both of our beings, and the chance to complete and fulfill my instinct. I ask the Creator to bless the deer and thanked the deer for what it has given. I looked up from the deer as a mystical silence fell over the woods, and then from just behind me I heard footsteps approaching. I turned my head toward the sound of the footsteps in the leaves and I didn’t see anyone or anything. As I was Stretching my neck in that direction, the once still air picked up and blew a long brisk breeze right up my shirt and stirred all the leaves about myself and the deer… My eyes welled up as I felt the sense of fulfillment deep in my soul…
My instinct, an urge to hunt; an urge to go and complete a ritual that is controversial today. Something that had to be done, just because.
Instinct is in all living creatures. It is, because it is. Instinct enabled me to make a judgment call in an instant; fire a rifle; and down game without any forethought. It enabled me of providing food with my bare hands.
This is all instinct instilled deep within from our Creator. We can win marathons; win contests; and accomplish incredible achievements, but nothing compares to fulfillment. I believe fulfillment comes from completing an urge of instinct. An instinctive feeling deep within us not by any choice of our own. This is why man hunts; why geese migrate; why a dog must satisfy his master; why salmon swim upstream in the spring, and why a hen broods her eggs.
If man were to be denied of fulfilling his instinct, then man would be no better than a deer locked up in a cage.
Ohhh…… Six years has been a long time…
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