Almost always it was does that came. They materialized in the small clearing with wary gaits, heads bobbing apprehensively. The smaller does came first, to be driven off by larger ones that pressed back their ears and flailed with their front hooves. Even the largest does, though, were subjects of abuse, with magpies hopping onto their rumps. The deer wheeled in annoyance, flaring the black-and-white birds, which hopped right back on, until the does dematerialized, driven to distraction. At the very start of the Monday that was the first day of the hunt, the does came and went. Then at 9:30 A.M. the first buck showed up, and he was only the biggest I had ever seen and could have legally killed. He walked out like an inevitability, a 150-class 10-point, antlers burnished like the arms of an antique oak rocker. Seeing a buck like that, you begin to understand what a peculiar condition maleness is, especially during the rut. The buck wasn't drawn by any promise of food. He had come to find does, and if they weren't there, he might only lope through the clearing or hover tormentingly at the margin of the poplars before simply fading away.