In the woods behind me, I heard the unmistakable sound of a deer approaching. The leaves on the forest floor crunched with every step that he took, and I wondered how close he would get before sensing my presence. It didn't take long. The deer snorted twice and bounded away with the sound of his hooves pounding out a rhythm as he ran. I threw another log in my backyard firepit and grinned in the darkness, surprised that the deer had gotten as close to me as he had. He would have had to have smelled the smoke from my fire, and I hadn't been particularly quiet whenever I poked at the logs in the pit. I took a sip of wine and turned my attention inwards. I was in a reflective mood tonight and wanted to take the time to "recover from the past and store up for the future," as Robert Ruark's Old Man once put it.
A month and a half into deer season, and I've only gotten one doe so far. That's a little unusual, but the season has been a busy one for me and I haven't gotten in the woods as often as I normally do. My job, more than anything else, has kept me busy with more work and longer hours than I've had to do in years. I've had to do a good bit of traveling, which is fairly unusual in my computer programming job. I've also been seeing less deer than usual this year. I had some good bucks on camera back in September, but they vanished when rifle season opened on October 1. A couple of days ago I saw a two and a half year old eight pointer, but he was a good bit smaller than what we've been looking for.
I'm also trying to write two books at one time, which is probably a mistake. I had hoped to finish "Daily Bread for Deer Hunters" in time for Christmas, but it looks like I'm not going to make that self-imposed deadline. In that new devotional, I'm reading through each book of the Bible and am relating it to the outdoors. That's pretty difficult, and I've only gotten twenty-some chapters done so far. There are at least forty more to go. The second book, a novel called "The Cabin", is the more important one as it deals with spiritual warfare and will reach a wider audience than the devotional. Hunting plays a background role in "The Cabin", but is still an important part of the story.
My son Paul is approaching his first birthday, and it's a great joy to watch him grow. We bought him some camouflage clothes a few weeks ago at Bass Pro Shops and has his picture taken in them. He says three words right now... "Mama", "Dada", and "Deer". Whenever I hold him up to one of the whitetails on my wall, he says "deer!" When we take him to someone's house who is not a hunter, he'll give the walls a puzzled look and ask "deer?", wondering where the heads are at.
Although he can't say anything else at this point, if I ask him "where is the turkey?", he'll turn his head and look at the gobbler that we have mounted in one of our upstairs rooms. He also knows who "Mr. Kudu" is, but has not yet attempted to pronounce that exotic word. It's difficult to want to take him hunting so badly, and yet know that there are several more years in front of us before he'll be ready to go. I certainly don't want to rush through his babyhood, but I am really excited about his first hunt, whenever that will be.
We're in the process of moving him from his smaller bedroom to a larger one, which is also taking up a good bit of time. We'll be painting it in the next few days and having some furniture delivered. We just finished up with all of the repair work from the spring hailstorms, so at least we've got that behind us.
In our club, around a dozen deer have been killed so far. While most of these have been does, one of the guys got a nice eight-pointer this past Saturday. He said that there was a smallish ten point with the bigger buck, and that they were trailing after some does. That's exciting to hear, and I look forward to see some action in the coming weeks.
I found some big buck tracks in my side yard the other day, and I've got my backyard feeder full of corn, hoping to get a look at what comes in. We don't shoot them in the yard, but they sure are fun to watch. I'll have to stick a trail camera back there sometime this week to see how many deer are coming in each night.
There are so many things to think about during this, the best time of the year, that it's often worthwhile to walk out to the firepit in the cool of the evening after work and just take some time to relax. And look forward to the next opportunity to get into the deer woods, of course.