We drive back to the stand and climb the steps again. And again, Clyde sits and doesn’t move. He reminds me of some ancient oak to which the comings and goings of men are trivial, a passing amusement. Today is a little cooler and breezier than yesterday. No one says anything, but all three of us are hoping for a chance at a shooter buck. A little over an hour in, Mike spots a deer crossing the field. “It’s got a huge rack, Daddy!” he whispers. The buck disappears behind some brush. When it finally re-emerges, it’s not as big as Mike thought at first, but he tells his father to shoot. When Clyde hesitates, Mike says, “Now, Daddy! Shoot!” Clyde does. When the smoke clears, the deer has moved and now stares right at the stand, untouched. Mike tries to reload the muzzleloader. The deer watches for a bit and then ghosts into the woods before Mike can finish.
Clyde looks dejected. “Rushed that shot,” he says to me. He shakes his head in disgust. “I knew I didn’t have him. At least I missed clean.” We sit in silence, absorbing what has happened. I can’t tell how Clyde is taking it. I suspect not well. I know it would throw me, especially with two witnesses and all their expectations hovering.