Thursday, December 11, 2008

Its Crunch Time

Every muscle in my body is tense yet still. I’m trying not to breathe, lest my heaving chest give me away to the 2 ½ year old buck that is nervously staring me down. Yet I can feel the adrenaline trickle from my brain through my veins, and the more it trickles, the faster my heart beats, the more oxygen my body requires, and of course, the harder I must breathe. He doesn’t know what I am, but he is certainly aware that I don’t belong. I am sure at any moment he will duck low and wheel around, leaving only some kicked up leaves on the ground and a distant memory in my mind. His front right foot lifts slowly before striking the ground. I am familiar with this gesture, as it is exhibited by deer as they attempt to bluff a potential adversary. The three nearby does had been feeding on acorns but they’ve now taken note of his alert posture and they too are piercing my camouflage and seeing my trembling body beneath.

“Lord, please don’t let them bust me. PLEASE.”

Suddenly, they all relax and begin feeding again. I watch as their ears relax and pivot left and then right, listening to the sounds of rustling leaves and chirping birds. The buck picks up some pace and begins moving to my right. I try to match his speed as I turn right also. As he enters my shooting window I come to full draw. His speed is too fast and I realize that if he doesn’t stop walking NOW, I won’t have a shot. I let out a low guttural grunt and the buck freezes mid stride, again fully alert. As my pin hovers over his vitals I release the arrow. The buck bolts, and I can instantly tell it was a clean miss.

That was September 27. It’s now December 11 and I’ve only seen this buck two other times, never with a shot opportunity. There’s a dull ache that forms in my stomach as I watch the pages of the calendar flip by because I’m running out of time to make this happen. Season has been closed for a few weeks, and in a few weeks it will open again, but only for a few sweet, stressful days.

My hunting expeditions thus far this year have resulted in frustration. I’ve learned the intricacies of bowhunting deer while on the ground. The smallest movement or a shift in wind direction has left my freezer bare and the local whitetail population all the wiser. Sometimes my wife asks why I continue to go if it is so stressful and frustrating. What can I say? When it comes to hunting, I’m a glutton for punishment. And I only have a few short days left to endure.

No comments: