My First Deer
of deer season.
I awoke at 3 a.m. on the first day of the deer season. I bathed in vinegar water and dressed in cedar-scented camouflage. I did not know if any of my morning preparations would increase my chances of bringing home a deer, but I was using a lot of hints and tricks that the books had revealed. Having cleaned the rifle the night before, I selected a handful of shells and packed up my car with a tarp, my canteen, a knife, the field dressing pamphlet and a few other odds and ends.
After a brief stop at a 24-hour convenience store, I arrived at my spot 45 minutes before sunrise, parked my car and stepped onto a dark and quiet road. I fiddled around with my gear, then started a short hike to the woods. I walked in a big circle, crunching leaves as I went, and wound up back on the main road twice, about 100 feet uphill from my car. I walked back to the car, thinking that I had scared away any animals within a quarter-mile. Then I took a last look at my map and struck off again as the sky was beginning to lighten.
When I inspected my deer stand it looked awfully high, so I opted for a nice spot on the ground. I bent down some nearby saplings and cleared oak leaves from a 3-foot circle. The soil was damp and cold and stuck to my hands in little pieces.
I sat down and leaned against the tree. I used my canteen cover for a seat and laid my rifle across my legs.
I heard rifle shots in the distance and knew it was 6:30 a.m. and the season had opened. I sat there completely still for several minutes before a flock of birds spotted me and decided to let everybody in the neighborhood know I was there. One sat right over my head and shouted shrill alarm calls. The birds finally left, and after it was quiet I began to doze off.
When I opened my eyes again, I saw two unmistakable deer ears twitching over the top of a pile of brush about 20 yards away. The ears moved off to the right. I tried to breathe normally and turned to look around my tree. There was an opening in the deer's line of travel, just over