It was a perfect deer hunting day.
Cold, but not too cold. Enough dew settling in predawn hours to allow a gentle, no-sound walk to what had to be the most perfect natural deer stand in all of West Feliciana Parish.
Scouting these 300 acres of prime whitetail habitat a month before turned up several prospects. Deer had carved an easy to follow meandering trail through the woods.
A hurricane had blown over an old red oak tree at just the right angle to allow a shinny to a spot about 20 feet off the ground, a spot with three perfectly north/east/west limbs and just far enough to support back and legs — and comfortably.
It was Mother Nature’s easy chair.
Because a co-worker insisted we hunt his family’s land — those 300 acres of upland hardwoods and 150 acres of pasture — our youngest son and I decided to build a tree stand for him along within range of yet another deer trail, the rewards of which was a case of poison ivy so virulent that it was a candidate for the Guinness Book of World Records and/or the American Medical Association’s monthly journal.
We had a chance
Scouting also proved there were enough whitetails to give us a chance, like the buck spied 300 yards across a pasture, a buck whose rack could only be bettered by the Hartford elk (OK, young readers, look that one up).
And then there was the real prize. A month before, a package arrived with small bottles labeled, “Deer in Estrus/The can’t miss lure for every deer hunter.”
So, that meant asking veteran hunters about such buck lures. The best tip was to latch on to a dozen or so 35mm plastic film canisters (we had hundreds in our newspaper’s photo department — that was back when cameras actually used film). The trick is to put a cotton ball in each container, then drops of buck lure, then spread them around your deer stand at various intervals.
So off we went that morning: got in the woods well before daylight, made sure he was situated safely in his stand, then started for my tree by following a fence line to keep my scent from invading the deep, deer filled woods.
As said, it was perfect. And along the way I decorated the approach to the stand with the buck-lure canisters. (The plastic vials allowed for them to be picked up, capped, and carried from the woods as well.)
The first rays of the sun brought an east breeze in my face.
Perfect, because the pasture was to my back and most of the deer appeared to prefer the deep woods. We’d seen doe grazing in the rye grass fields, but never a buck, and bucks were our quarry. We were after horns.
Sorta knew it might be a little early for the rutting season in this area, but it seemed it’s never too early to wake any buck’s senses to l’amour, so a week or two didn’t seem to matter much.
Perfectly situated in my perch with senses set on high, the first disturbance came from two chipmunks scurrying around the uprooted base of my tree. Both ran up the trunk, the lead crossing my left leg and sitting his good self on the branch two feet from my left ear. The second one saw me, jumped and in one move turned and ran, post-haste, down the tree.
That first chipmunk remained for minutes, almost frozen, until I asked him if he was going to stay there all morning. He jumped six inches then sprinted back the way he came and rejoined with his buddy, or was it his main squeeze, for more frolicking among the leaves.
By that time, the heavy scents of the forest filled the air.
Oh boy, it won’t be long now before ol’ Mr. Buck is going to walk the trail of canisters and within the crosshairs of my .30-06.
Man, was I ready, but not ready for what was to come.
I knew my friend had a bull for his cows, and that the bull had been enclosed in his own private acres, but didn’t know my friend had let the bull out to take to handling his chores among his harem in the 150 acres of pasture.
As the primal scents wafted from the forest floor, the east breeze sent drifted of the Doe in Heat to, and across, the fence line.
And, the bull came running.
Here he came!
His bellowing rose to fever pitch, and I had a view of him tearing at the barbed wire fence with all his might.
After near two hours of increasing consternation, and concerned the wire might not hold this raging beast, it was time for me to leave, don the Hunter Orange vest, retrieve the canisters and hoof it back to the truck… all the while making sure I didn’t come within gun range of our son.
And, just to make sure, I didn’t walk the precarious barbed wire fence line trail to get out and risk the further intentions of this raging bull.
It did have big horns!
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