Some degrees in academia take two years, some take four. Apparently, getting your degree in the outdoors takes a heckuva lot more than that.
I’m still seeking my diploma in the Outdoors (concentration whitetails) after more than 20 years in search of America’s most sought-after game animal.
And this week was another lesson that professor Nature provided, leaving me as a stumped pupil hoping to not make the same mistake twice.
My hunting buddy Kenny and I made our near-annual trip to Western New York to chase whitetails with bow and arrow. It was its normally fantastic trip, yet neither of us were able to connect with a giant northern deer. I came the closest, yet never flung an arrow thanks to a minor hiccup by your faithful veteran blogger.
Let me set the scene.
It was chilly – a crisp morning with temperatures locked in the mid 20s. For any deer hunter who relies on their senses for how good a hunt could turn out, you would understand when I say it felt like a “deery” morning. Shortly after 9 a.m. I noticed a single doe standing in the woods. I decided to video her.
Shortly after I hit the record button, she made the all-too familiar glance behind her that signaled she was not alone. Was it a buck? I noticed another three deer walking toward her and figured those deer were the subject of her interest. I kept the video recording.
It was then that I heard the sound of a buck making a single, quick grunt. I quickly transitioned into hunter mode, pushing my camera arm out of the way in exchange for a clear lane to draw my bow. I kept the video camera recording, but the it was pointed at the tree I was perched in. As I reached to the other side of the tree for my bow, I could hear deer running toward me – a clear sign that this buck was bumping at least one of the does. In just a few short seconds, several deer went from 60 yards behind me, to being within 15-25 yards of my treestand.
By the time I turned back around with bow in hand, a doe and the buck were glancing my direction. I was busted. And he was a shooter – A chocolate-horned heavy eight-point with an “ain’t happening” stare.
I knew my opportunity was gone. There would be no way to get my bow drawn and make an effective shot on the buck at that point. I decided to reach for my camera arm and try to steer it toward the buck to catch video of him before the doe and he took off. I was able to capture just a couple short moments of video. And it was over.
I knew at that point, because our trip to NY was so short, that this might be my last opportunity at a good buck this year with my bow. And a rookie mistake of not anticipating a possible buck being with those does ended up costing me.
Lesson learned. And there will be many more before this hunter receives his diploma.