By Gary Miller
Jim sat out to harvest a doe on opening day. It’s always good to get the first deer under the belt, and it would provide some delicious meat for the family. Normally, the sight of a doe under his tree-stand wouldn’t provide any extra adrenaline; after all, he’s usually after a buck. But the mind works differently when that doe becomes the game one is pursuing.
He settled in that morning about 20 minutes before shooting light. He is anxious after nearly nine months of being out of a tree stand. The temperature is cool, but it will warm up quickly. As soon as the sun began to rise Jim saw in the distant a few does in the field above the woods where he was waiting. He wondered if they might make their way down the trail that lingered below his stand. He already felt like his scouting had paid off simply because he was looking at what he had come after. His daydreaming came to a sudden halt when he glanced slightly ahead and to the right. There she was. It was big lone doe that was winding down the path toward him. Now, she was only forty yards away. Immediately Jim’s heart went into another gear. He knew it would happen, so he calmed himself by taking a deep breath and concentrating on the task at hand.
Since he was sitting he would need to stand up, turn slightly to his right, and turn his bow upright, all without being seen. As she went behind a tree, he made each move in one slow but sweeping motion. He kept telling himself to be patient. He snapped his release on the loop of his bow and began to view each shooting lane that could be used. As the deer came closer, Jim stood perfectly still. His leafy suit gave him satisfaction that even if she looked his way she would not be able to make out the odd shape of leaves.
He picked out another tree and decided that when the doe moved behind it he would draw his bow. When her vitals cleared the tree, he would fire. She moved as if she knew the scenario going through Jim’s mind – that is until she came to that tree. Instead she decided to stop and turn around. She was only twenty yards away. Jim panicked slightly but watched to see where the next shooting lane would be. He pinpointed it as she moved back in the direction she came from. The shot would now be quartering away. She moved into the opening and Jim released his arrow. It looked like a good hit. As she sprinted away, he watched her every move and marked the last spot he saw her, by a downed tree.
As Jim realized what had just happened, a smile crossed his face. His lower back began to throb, his body began to shake, and his legs went weak. He quickly set down, afraid his trembling body was going to cause him to fall from his stand. He took a deep breath and set the timer on his watch to remind himself not to push the fatally wounded doe too soon. His knees continue to knock together. He takes his water bottle from his fanny pack and relives what had just happened. Jim is 65 years old.
And you wonder why we go hunting.
Gary Miller can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.