It was an early morning for Saturday, 4:30 am is early for me. If I was to try and get up for work at that time, I would be late for work every day. There is something about getting up for hunting. I know everyone has their thing, my wife for a craft fair, my mother to watch the sunrise from the beach, my sister can get up early for dance, a buddy for golf, fishing, the races, four wheeling, snowmobiling, skiing, some people even love their job that much, but for me it's hunting.
I enjoy many different styles of hunting for different reasons. Early season bow hunting, sitting in a tree stand 20' above the forest floor. The leaves still green and the deer unsuspecting after a nine month layoff of intruders in their domain. The first year deer acting like fools, showing their youth and inexperience. Much like a school aged child, the young deer seem to have ants in their pants and the urge to explore all the new things in their world. Pre rut, when the leaves are falling, bucks are becoming more territorial, rubbing trees and scraping the ground. You can almost feel the tensions building in the forest, can feel something is coming. The rut, when all rules and patterns of bucks are thrown out. The male deer are following and chasing the females. The anticipation of "The Buck of a Lifetime" could come crashing through the thickets at any moment or he could sneak silently through the wall of low pines. He could appear from the morning fog and mysteriously disappear just a quick.
I am not a trophy horn hunter. I believe any deer, taken in an ethical and legal way, to be a trophy and something to be proud of. One of my very first deer brought home was a small deer. I proudly placed it on a tarp in the garage and proceeded to call my two sons. "Bryan, Bob, come see what we got." Wait til they see we got a deer, I can't wait to see the expressions. They come out to the second floor landing and look down.
"Awe, who shot the dog?" This is still a story that is shared every year between our hunting group, while having coffee before heading out to make a new story.
The camaraderie of a Saturday deer drive. The back and forth banter between friends. My oldest hunting buddy shot a deer last year after a 3 year dry spell. Not that he hadn't shot the previous years, because he did, he was on a 3 year miss spell. I was about 200 yards away when I heard his 12 ga. sound off. One shot. I gave it about 5 minutes, I was waiting for a follow up shot, I figured that deer should come by me at about 60 mph. I head over to see if maybe it was an accidental discharge (more banter). He is standing there smiling from ear to ear filling out his antlerless deer tag. I give a "what's up nod" and he gives me an "over there" nod. Sure enough, deer down. That got me smiling ear to ear. I walk up to his deer to inspect the kill shot, beautiful placement, broadside double lung. Good size deer, kind of skinny, guesstimate 110 lbs dressed. I grab a rear leg to flip it over and see the exit side. The rear leg is floppy and bloody and the deer has male parts!! There is arcing in my brain, can not compute, can not compute, no antlers, big male deer, one shot, two wounds at different ends of the body. "Hey Donny, what was this deer doing when you shot it?"
"It was laying down when I saw it, it got up real slow and was trying to sneak off."
"Dude, this deer had been hit by a car and was a step away from dying!! Is that the only way you can hit one, already wounded?"
"Oh, so you are calling this a mercy killings?"
"Wait til everyone hears about this one."
The solitude of still hunting or stalking is equally enjoyable. The sights and sounds of the forest. The woods changing with each week, sometimes days, in the season. The other residents of the forest, bobcats, fishers, foxes, coyotes, all with natures instinct to survive. You go into their realm, try to disappear or at least blend into the surroundings. It just puts me at ease in the woods, it is awe inspiring.