Saturday, December 5, 2009

Another encounter...

Picture from the night before...

This afternoon I remembered that— somewhere!— I had a pair of heavy-duty, insulated Carhartt bib overalls in loden green. Wonder of wonders I went right to the box in the shop that held them. I took them inside to warm up and was going to try them on later.

I got busy and forgot all about them. Then, just as dusk was creeping up on us, I remembered them and changed into them. Mmm. Cushy and warm and a great color. I went out in the living room with the intention of walking out on the porch to try 'em in the frigid air.

But before I could open the door I saw some movement out behind my target butts. That whitetail fork-horn was jumping the wire and coming onto the place from the thick brush to the west. I decided to go out and mix it up up a bit. I grabbed the Seneca, put on a camo jacket, cap, and gloves and sallied forth, waiting until he disappeared behind the old shop building a few yards from the porch.

At first I sat at my shooting bench on the porch, but then decided that I would move out into the yard toward the old shop. Just as I eased down the steps I caught a glimpse of movement to my right. It was another deer, a mulie, but I couldn't tell if it were the buck from yesterday or a doe. I froze and it moved across my line of travel and disappeared behind the shop building.

With no deer in sight I moved slowly and quietly across the grass toward the shop building. As I drew near, suddenly, an antlered head appeared around the corner of the building, looking right at me. We were about twenty feet apart and I froze and closed my eyes. After a few seconds I squinted them open and he was still staring straight at me. I hardly breathed. Then he flagged and stiff-legged up the slope toward the old radio tower and the cedars at the top of the property. I was sure he was gone.

But he stopped about forty yards up the slope and began to nibble at some grass. He would eat and then periodically raise his head and scan all around him, with special attention to me. I decided that I was not going to shoot and wanted to leave the scene without spooking him, if possible. The grass was soft under my feet, having been in the sun earlier. But as I lifted my foot slowly and carefully he snapped his head up and looked straight at me. Had he heard me? He couldn't have, and yet he apparently had.

After about a minute he resumed his feeding and I risked another slow side-step. Once again he snapped his head up. This went on for almost thirty minutes as I eased off to the side and toward the house. There was a big double-boled cottonwood almost between us and I knew if I could get completely behind it I would be able to ease off and onto the porch and then into the house. With him snapping his head up every minute or so it took a while but I was finally out of his sight and eased as quickly and quietly as I could back to the house.

This is a young, relatively inexperienced buck or he would have been gone as soon as he poked his spiky head around the shop building and saw that strange tree stump standing there where it hadn't been before. But I was amazed once more by the acuity of a deer's hearing. Sounds that I could not hear myself caused him to snap to attention at a distance of almost fifty yards. Amazing.

I didn't see the mulie again. By then it was almost full dark. There's always tomorrow.


BobG said...

He looks fat and healthy. If you do decide to take him, he'll probably make good eating.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the deer are getting used to you and don't worry about you shooting them? The deer that come around my place are only afraid of the dogs.