I’m so mad at the deer I’ve been hunting that I could shoot one.
On my last two outings, I’ve set up a climber along deer trails in the small woodlot where I was invited to hunt by my friend Patrick O’Neill, whose nickname is Fidge, owing to the fact that he’s just a teeny bit hyper.
(Fidge, if you’re reading this, I want you to know how grateful I am. And that, at the same time, I am having feelings of resentment, which I share as one highly evolved guy to another. On Thursday, you ditched me to go hunt another, better area to which you say you are “still working on” getting me access. And then you texted me about the many deer you were seeing, including that six pointer you bleated in to 26 yards and then passed up—all while I was seeing squat. And the last time we went hunting, I paid for nearly half your gas even though you were going there anyway.)
Sorry. Anyway, the same damn thing happened on both of my last hunts. I didn’t see a deer until after it was too dark to take an ethical shot, at which point a lone deer dawdled past my stand at 18 yards. Here in Maryland, as in many states, legal light is defined as “½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset.” But “legal” light and “sufficient” light are two very different things. If you hunt in deep woods with trees that still have their leaves and you are using a compound bow—even one with a peep the size of a bowling ball and fiber optic pins—those last 15 minutes are pretty much useless. They’re just fine for listening to the soft crunch of approaching deer. And they’re wonderful for making out dark shapes ghosting past your stand. But actually shooting an arrow through a deer’s lungs? Not so much.
Here’s what’s really driving me nuts. Those deer showed up within one minute of each other on different days. The first one wandered by 22 minutes after sunset. The second, two days later, passed 23 minutes after. Both looked like young bucks, although I couldn’t tell whether they had racks. Both were alone, noses down, with rangy gaits. For all I know it was the same deer in two places 110 yards apart.
Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t even consider killing that deer. I’m primarily hunting for meat, which means does. Although I’m sure I’d arrow a honker buck if the chance presented itself. A young buck is not on my hit list. On the other hand, I may make an exception in this case. Assuming it ever shows up when there’s enough damn light.