One Day In November
already happened." At 12 years of age, Eric understood the essence of the hunt.
On Sunday morning, rain chased us from the woods after an hour and a half. Eric stripped off his damp coveralls, quickly falling asleep beneath a blanket cocoon on our living room carpet. I paced about, knowing nasty weather to be prime hunting time, but waited until Eric was again ready.
After Eric awoke, we sat in our favorite tree stand, watching six does feed in our small clover field. Two hours later we slipped away, flipped on a football game, popped popcorn and essentially became couch potatoes.
At 3:45 p.m. Eric asked, "Are we going hunting again, Dad?" It was tempting to stay put. But Eric had school for the next five days, so we gathered gear and headed out, setting the stage for the most memorable event in my 23 years of deer hunting.
Puddles of grey water sloshed noisily from beneath rubber-soled boots as we walked the sod road to our homemade ladder stand. Slinging the rifle buttstock up over my shoulder, I followed Eric as he climbed the pine board steps.
Settled in, Eric watched me slip a brass cartridge into the rifle barrel and flip the safety catch on. We looked up to see a sleek doe stepping into the open, soon followed by four others. We grinned; it became infectious, and made us giddy. We nudged each other in the ribs, even going so far as to tweak one another on the nose. After the deer left Eric whispered, "What time is it , Dad?"
It was ten minutes to five. "Shouldn't we be going now?" he asked. But I knew what he did not. Opportunity can come and go in a matter of seconds.
"A lot can happen in 10 minutes, Eric," I said, "We'll stay a little longer."
The ebony eyes of a tufted titmouse a foot from my face were holding my attention when Eric hissed, "Dad, a buck!" I slowly turned to follow his gaze. There was no buck, but Oscar was out for an evening stroll, coming down the same two-track we had taken earlier; fuzzy, blond, but alone. Eric's impish grin told me he was proud of his little joke. As we watched, a deer stepped from cover and fell in behind the cat, matching him step for step.
Eyes locked and ears cupped forward, the deer's nose was less than two feet