My first buck- 2013 

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It was quiet; absolutely silent except for the tiniest scurrying of field mice. My heartbeat settled into a state of rest. The wicker and metal lawn chair was made comfortable by a thick sleeping bag. Cold nipped my nose. The hay in the hay ring was fresh and sweet. I was hiding behind the stacked bales, my .243 rifle resting on top.

Three weeks ago saw the start of this moment. First, the hay ring was brought to the top of the hill. We cleared brush and tree limbs out of the line of fire. After the last tree was cleared the hubby and I stayed completely out of the area. The corner of the farm was a traffic route for white tail; usually very early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Yesterday, I had brought up a cooler with drinks and food enough to last me all day. Inside a garbage bag I had stowed a blanket and the sleeping bag. I was comfortable against the early morning chill. Why rough it in a tree stand when these hay bales added insulation and were the perfect shield? Why sit on the ground when this comfortable chair and soft cushion were perfect for firing off a stable hay bale? No bobbing of the barrel. Most of the doe I had taken in the past two years I had freehanded the shots using my 30/30. This year the hubby insisted on buying this .243  because I kept shooting deer over two hundred yards. Everything I shot at went into the freezer, so I don't see what his fussing was about. He insisted on reloading forty rounds. I told him I only needed four. (This year we could take three does and a buck.) Of course I got the look.

The stars were out. The walk through the pasture did not need the aide of a flash light. On the way an abrupt snort from Sundance, my Rocky Mountain horse, about gave me a heart attack. I had barely seen his form a hundred yards away. Rugger, my black draft-walker; was invisible except for his white blaze and four white socks. I watched his white patches flash as he paced behind Sundance. Humorously it reminded me of the invisible man with socks. Peanut, the little Paso Fino rescue horse, snorted and ran like an idiot along the fence line. Thunder, a true appaloosa from the Native Indian line, was rustling around inside the run-through shelter. I had penned the boys for their own safety. It will be two long weeks  to keep them safe from stray bullets.

Some persons are always trying to hunt the backside of our field. A problem six strands of barb-wire will soon fix. I caught hunters twice and I they'll try again if I am not sitting in my hay ring to watch. Usually I wait until later in the morning to hunt, but this year, I was going to be up there watching early.  I was going to thank the jerks today; I just did not know it yet.  As I settled into my hay ring hide out this thought rankled me.

Abruptly, something scurried and jumped into the hay ring just as I sat down. Gypsy, my cat, startled me. The master huntress meowed and purred at my feet. I looked down at her, "Great, how am I suppose to get my buck with you making so much noise? Go catch a mouse and take it back to the front porch." The tabby looked up at me, nonchalant, and stepped out of the hay ring to prowl. Minutes later she returned to quite contently sleep on my blanket draping over my feet. I scowled at her. Little did she know her nap was going to be short lived.

Not far from the hay ring something moved. It was barley light and the temperature was dropping. When I  drove snow plow for the state I learned this was normal. I kind of missed the job. It was fun watching the snow rooster-tail off the plow.  Driving school bus, however,  allows me to  fix the rundown rentals and finish my books. If I had to pay someone to do what I spent the past five years doing I would have gone broke.  Now, because I wanted to start a business, I was facing the return to OTR work; which means this could be my last hunt for a couple of years.

This thought went through my mind when I saw the rabbits. One hopped close. I  heard it chew on the hay in front of me. With the eagle's nest not far off, it suddenly dawned on me why I never saw the rabbits when I wanted to hunt. I could barely see them now. Gypsy was fast asleep. The rabbits were safe. In the woods birds chirped. Darkness would soon be lifting. It was quiet, all except for the hum of the big air fans the mine installed four miles away. Most of my life I lived in poverty. I save up enough, worked hard enough, to buy my own peace and quiet in the country and someone builds a stupid air shaft to ruin it.

Anyways, despite the annoying fan, I could feel the tension of all the stress of life melt away. I started to relax when I heard a soft crack in the woods. I sat up straight.  I knew the sound.

Picking up the rifle I settle behind it, scoping the corner fifty yards away. A small doe appeared. A larger doe followed. The pair jumped the fence and strolled, never seeing me. Behind me, in the direction I could not shoot, I heard another crack. To not frighten the deer in front of me I very slowly turned. To my surprise a young doe was walking straight toward my hay ring not twenty feet away. Another pair were forty feet behind her watching. At a break in the fence a big doe  leaped. The morning was yet lifting the darkness and I could see their forms clearly. The little doe and I startled at the same time. I froze, not wanting her to snort and warn the bucks I knew had to be close. It was like a switch had been flipped and deer melted up from the brush. The doe took off on a run and the first group  disappeared. It was seven in the morning when I saw the next group of four doe. Fifteen minutes later another group of three.

I relaxed my grip on the rifle. There was no doubt in my mind I would see a buck. Would he run out of the woods on a dead run? Would he jump behind me or come down the fence lines? I heard there was a big buck coming out at this corner from the only neighbor who could look down onto this field. Again there was a rustle. A doe jumped out. She stopped, looked my way and nibbled. Her ears perked and she looked back. A four point followed her. I needed three points on one antler and I knew there were bigger bucks around, so I waited. Gypsy slept curled at my feet while my heart rate fell again. The adrenaline flowed every time the woods cracked.

Trying to get used to the new scope and the feel of the gun I put my eye up to the scope. In the crosshairs was a doe. I had not heard a thing. Another doe jumped out. I settled in waiting. The pair moved on. I watched through the scope and a nice buck jumped the fence line. I could clearly see he had a legal rack. One of the biggest reasons I hunt is because it saves on the food bill. I knew a bigger buck was in the woods but I did not hesitate to pull the trigger.

The gun went off with a bang; shattering the morning peace. Gypsy lit out of the hay ring like she had been shot out of a cannon. I was too intent on the buck. He ran. I thought for sure I had missed. My aim was now on a second buck with a better rack. It was still not the big boy I had seen weeks earlier. Abruptly the first buck reared up and fell over. I was kind of disappointed because this boy in my sights was better, but, if he made it, he would be here for me next year.

My heart beat loud in my ears and my breathing was heavy because I was so excited. Aloud I voiced, "Oh, my gosh, I got him. I got my first buck. He's got a decent rack, too!" Dancing a little I forced myself to sit down. The second buck was sadly saying goodbye to his buddy. I felt bad as I watched him put his nose down and touch his buddy's cheek. I recalled reading when something dies it gives off a scent. This fellah knew something had changed. He was instantly nervous, looked over the hill, twisted around and disappeared.

I always feel bad when I have to take the life of an animal, but, I saw first hand when I was a little girl what happens when deer herds are not culled. My great grandfather and I walked into a ravine shortly after a long spell of snow to find a wayward calf. There were small dead bodies everywhere. The older deer were able to reach the higher brush to feed, but the younger deer were not so fortunate. My great grandfather walked the farm and found over forty deer starved to death. He put several down himself to end their suffering.

I was not thinking of this at the moment. I was pumped with adrenaline while I waited to make sure my buck was down for the count. Too many times I had heard of hunters rushing up on a deer and it taking off never to be seen, or worse, injuring the hunter. In the distance I heard a crack. It sounded like my hubby's gun. The sound is very distinctive as he makes his own rounds. It barks so loud it actually echoes through the valley. I thought of the big eight point and wondered if he, too, had got one. I didn't hear another shot. What were the odds of us both getting bucks five minutes apart? I dismissed the idea. Guns began to bark. The deer were on the move and running the gauntlet which would consume hunters and their families for the next two weeks.

Nervous, I stepped out of the ring. Gypsy was back and the look on her fuzzy face told me she was not happy about how I disturbed her nap. She was quick to steal my warm seat. The two doe with my buck snorted and ran off. I did not care if they spooked the whole forest because I now did not have to hunt all week. The day was warm, too warm, and I was going to have to get the next ordeal over with. The buck was on a steep ridge of the neighbor's field. Taking a piece of barn twine and my gun I walked the two hundred yards. The buck's head was back. His rack was dug into the ground. He was a lengthy boy.  I pulled his head back to examine the rack. It was an average rack with one tine broken short. Shaking from the adrenaline rush I was completely thrilled by my accomplishment, but cautious. Being by myself, and not wanting to chase what might yet be a live deer, I pulled out the barn twine, tied it to a leg and then I tied the other end to his antler. He was going no where, just in case. Grabbing a hind leg I took him off the ridge line where I could see hunters. The deer was heavy, but, not as heavy as the monster doe I had bagged last year. It took my husband and I, both, to load her into the cart behind the four-wheeler.

I got my boy down onto the flat part of our property. I forgot my knife so I had to go back to the hay ring and that's when I heard the four wheeler. The hubby had bagged one, too. Hurrying I went to the edge of the hill. I did not want to leave my prize but I sure needed a hand. It was eight in the morning and the day was getting warm fast. A warm day was not what a hunter needed. My prize could go to waste in hours.

The hubby was coming up the road, thankful to see me because he was wondering how he was going to drag his prize  from the thicket patch way up on the hillside where a four-wheeler could not get. The buck was a bruiser and he was coming to get the wife, knowing he was going to have no choice but disturb my hunting. Not believing I was on the ridge waving him down he called up, "Did you get anything?"

I yelled back, "I got a nine point." I would be disappointed to learn I could not count the broken tine unless a ring could sit on it, but, at that moment every hunter in a one mile radius- as I was literally on top of the hill shouting down into the quiet of the morning; now knew I had bagged a nine point. I learned this because the neighbor would later tell me my excitement was very loud and clear. The hubby yelled up he had bagged the big eight point we had been seeing and was clearly excited. Okay, so his eight-point was bigger than mine, but, I still got one, and it had a rare albino hoof.

It's a habit with us to grab the cameras to record our fun on the farm and the hubby had dutifully dragged them along. He drew the short end of the stick, too, because one of us was going to need clean hands to drive the four-wheeler to the house and drop my deer off- then go get his buck- and if I could help it, that person was going to be me. I love it when a day comes together so neat and easy.

Driving away with my buck, I looked back to see Gypsy sitting on the hay bales. She knew her way home. It was nice to have the master huntress join her rookie pet to make sure I hunted properly- though- I think, she much preferred her student hunted without making such a big bang. I do believe I used one of her nine lives up. 

PS- The hubby just saw this page and commented, "I thought you were writing a little story."

I replied, "Okay, just for you. I climbed the hill. I shot the deer. I gave the cat a heart attack, but, she still has eight lives left and, oh, look, she's back with a mouse and just put it in your shoe. The end. Short enough?"

Silence- and  the typical "hairy" eyeball when my sarcasm has crossed some imaginary line- was his reply.

The hubby with our prizes. Mine is in front.

My boy has a 13 1/4 inch spread while hubby's has a 15 3/4 inch.

The bucks were in the freezer by 11 am. I didn't have to hunt again

until Saturday when I bagged two does and my third  I bagged a few days

later. The hubby got two does. Now comes the fun part; canning,

freezing and jerking all this meat for weeks to come.

 

On an irritating note those hunters who breeched the backside of the property shot a deer fifty feet from my hay ring hideout with no regard to my horses or my trailer rentals, nor the neighbors  directly on the other side of the hill. I left to use the bathroom and warm up. On the way into the house I heard a shot. By the time I got back up the hill they were dragging the deer off my property; after shooting two-hundred yards into it. Had I been climbing the hill up my path I would have been in direct line of fire. I am chomping at the bit to build the barb-wire fence. If the rear end of the tractor had not exploded and all our spare money went into the Jubilee I would have started stretching it right there on the spot! It frustrates me because I really wanted to give these guys something to see this year. I posted enough signs on every tree of the tree line it looks like a string of caution tape, but, I know they will send bullets my way and drag deer off my property right in front of me. By the time I make it to my house to call the game warden they will be gone.  Had I left my hunting I would not have taken my two does- they would have. As it was I was watching the third deer when they fired. It was on my property along my fence line and I was barely out of their line of fire. It's guys like this that make it so property owners refuse to let hunters pass on their land. Hopefully I'll find a publisher. Boy, what a fence I could build if Disney decided to pick up one of my two books I know would make a great movie! All these guys did was motivate me. Wait until they come back next year... to be continued.