First off, the weather has been beautiful and it's really getting me excited for fall. Towards the end of each of the four seasons, I usually become excited for the change. For example, when the Winter is coming to an end and the temperature starts to rise, I start to think about grass greening up, leaves on the trees, spring turkey hunting, picking mushrooms, and catching crappie. When Springtime turns to summer, I think about long daylight hours, warm nights, big bass in the shade, and cruises through the countryside. This time of the year, especially since we've had cool temperatures and dry air, I think about leaves turning, days getting shorter, football on the tube, and big bucks looking for love.
Fall is hands down my favorite time of the year. I do love winter also because of the bobcat trapping, coyote calling, and fun in the snow, but it just always seems to come too fast and stay too long. Fall is when the hoodies come out and the chili starts cooking, which means it's time to spend some quality time in the woods.
For all of you deer hunters out there, you know what goes on in the woods. For all of you that have never experienced life from 20 feet up in a tree, let me try to explain what goes on in the woods when you're quiet and still.
The woods come alive. You start to see squirrels everywhere, hoarding nuts and scolding whatever intruder walks under their tree. You might see an opossum waddle by in no hurry, but headed somewhere. A coon might crawl out of the tree you're in towards dark and head toward the nearest cornfield or creek. A coyote might trot by looking for the coon that came out of your tree, and if you're lucky you might see a bobcat sneaking through the brush. You probably won't hear him, but you just might see him.
But the best is when you start to see the deer coming out of their beds and heading toward the food.
Early in the season, you might just see doe after doe, fawn after fawn, and yearling buck after yearling buck, because the older, bigger bucks are generally nocturnal. But when it gets closer to Halloween, and the temperature gets frigid, those big bucks will change their patterns and habits, eager to find that first doe in heat.
They will start wandering around during the day, checking doe beds, hoping to catch a whiff of that familiar smell. They will start fighting with other bucks for the right to breed, sometimes it's a fight to the death. And when the does start coming into heat, it becomes a race to the finish line. You might see bucks running at a full sprint with his nose to the ground for miles and miles because he knows that hot doe is at the end of that trail. If you're on the ground, they might run right past you and not even know you're there. They become so focused on breeding that it consumes them totally and they make mistakes. They become vulnerable to the hunter.
That's when you want to be in your tree, with a bow or rifle in your hand.
The feeling that a hunter gets when a doe is close, and it's so quiet that you'd swear she can hear your heartbeat is indescribable. It's when your instincts as a carnivore kick in and your senses become heightened. Some start to shake, others may forget to breathe, but you know at that moment in time that if you move a muscle that deer will know you're there and your hunt is over.
But if you play your cards right with the wind in your favor and the setup being perfect, she might just keep on walking towards the food. When she's out of your personal space and you feel like it's OK to breathe, keep your eyes and ears open for what might be following her.
When that giant buck comes into view, he will take your breath away. Try to keep breathing, get your weapon ready, and do not look at his rack. If he took your breath away, there's no reason to study it, he's the one you want. Stay as calm as possible, focus on the kill zone, wait for the perfect shot and take it.
This is when you get the biggest, most intense shot of adrenaline of your life. Just before the shot and immediately after.
This is the feeling that makes hobby hunters into deer hunting addicts, and addicts into hunting junkies. You can never duplicate the feeling of successfully harvesting the buck of a lifetime. It is achievement like no other, and that's a fact.
I have personally harvested some very nice bucks, but I have yet to kill the buck that takes my breath away. Usually those are just out of range, or are only seen in the headlights.
But when I do finally feel that feeling of pure ecstasy, I will carry it with me forever, and constantly long to feel it again.
I will then truly be a deer hunting junkie.