Tue09022014

Last updateWed, 19 Nov 2014 8pm

   2014 39.95 HSD w VIDor PH-Banner2-500-x-125

Smelled, tested, busted and run over, but no shots taken

With a title like that you have to wonder what in the world is going on with your outdoor columnist. 

My Saturday morning was incredibly busy in the woods. I was exhausted but got out of bed anyway and headed to the eastern side of the county to hunt and try to put some meat in the freezer. I was concerned about the clothing I was wearing since I had not recently washed it with my Scent-A-Way detergent by Hunters Specialties. 

After the truck pulled into the drive to the overgrown property and was parked, I gently closed the doors and looked around. I knew I had made the right decision in getting up despite being tired. The woods were alive with color, life and smells of fall. 

The leaves are turning color in earnest and Saturday was just gorgeous. Golden yellow poplar leaves drifted down lazily in the early morning light as I walked toward a creek bottom where I wanted to hunt. The blood red maple leaves were hard to miss as well and the honey orange colored hickory leaves were a blaze of glory too. 

Many of the oaks are rusty red now and busy shaking off the last of the acorns that can be had before the squirrels get them. 

The creek bottom where I was setting up offered me three shooting lanes and a big tree that I could lean back on to break up my outline (or take a quick nap) and hide from suspicious eyes. My camo headnet and mask made my presence nearly undetectable. I was just concerned that my clothes may not pass the muster. 

 I am not sure if it was the lazy drifting down of the leaves in the breezy conditions that caused me to nearly slip into a nap or the fresh air on my face and the warm double layered coat I was hunkered down in, but whatever the cause, it was deadly at putting me to sleep. 

I had just nodded off and possibly ready to snore when something jolted me awake. I felt my body go rigid but I stilled myself and then popped open one eye to peek around. 

Movement to my slight left got both eyes open. Within seconds I knew I did not need to raise my crossbow; it was only a squirrel. However, the squirrel did interest me. I wanted to see if I passed the smell test. With a few bounds the female squirrel was on a tree less than a yard in front of my foot. I could clearly see her whiskers and nose as she worked hard to smell in my direction.

 Something about me was not quite right but she did not know what it was. I did not blink but simply admired her as she hung from her back feet and arched her back towards me from the side of the tree in an attempt to figure me out. 

She worked back around the tree and hung from the other side too. Her nose was in overdrive. Squirrels, in case you did not know, can smell a nut under a foot of snow. I felt pretty confident that she did not smell me. She simply dropped down, ate a nut right in front of me, dug around a bit and then worked away slowly smelling for various things. I passed the test. 

Then, for reasons totally unknown to me, I heard a wheeze and a snort. The sounds were at least 100 yards off and obviously a deer. I felt that I had been busted but then again, how? 

I could not see the deer for quite some time and no one else was on the property. The wind was gently blowing straight away from the direction of the snorts and I had been very careful coming in. Finally, I had not moved one bit since the squirrel visited me. 

Regardless, the deer were upset and it was pretty clear I would not get a shot on them. I decided to try to call them back in. Before I could reach for the call I did see them cutting perpendicular to me and up the other hill. They were 50-60 yards out when I first called with a bleat. They stopped and wheezed again. The sequence repeated itself a few times and I was able to draw them in to 45 yards or so but no closer. 

Finally they moved off. 

Disappointed I sat back and looked at my watch. I had thirty more minutes to hunt before I needed to get home to take care of some things. 

A sudden dash of brown from directly in front of me snapped me out of my planning for the rest of my day. 

“Deer coming my way?” 

Sure enough a deer was coming my way. Before I could even get the crossbow up I realized it was a very small deer, a yearling. It was trotting steadily right at me. Suddenly I realized I had sat right next to a small trail and I knew what was going to happen. Things were about to get interesting. 

The little doe closed the distance rapidly. I could see ticks on her hide she was so close! Her brown eye was beautiful and the wet nose was quivering. I turned into a post and sat moving only my eyes. She passed so close I felt like she was going to run me over. Had I been reckless (or adventurous) I could have tried to snatch her. I certainly could have touched her she passed so close. Yet, she never even blinked. She just kept on trotting. When she passed I dared to turn around and watch her go up the trail and over the knoll. She never faltered or flinched or ran harder. She just had somewhere to go and was focused on getting there. 

Yes, Saturday morning was an interesting time to be in the woods and one I won’t forget for some time. Although the time I had to be in the field was short, it was well worth getting out of bed for. Not many people get to enjoy the beauty God created up close and personal like I had.

Hope your season is going well!

 

Mark Fike

 

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