August 18, 2011

Deer Camp, 2010

With hunting season getting closer every day, I thought I'd share a story I blogged just after returning from a hunt last year. 

Deer Camp, 2010

It’s 6:09 p.m., Sunday, October 31st, 2010. It’s just starting to get dark. The blazing Texas sun is finally settling down behind the trees before it goes to sleep for the night and now I can finally see the entire area just below where my tree stand was oh-so carefully placed without the glare blinding me. My wife is 100 yards due North, behind me and has been settled in to her stand for hours.  

Over coffee, she had told me earlier that morning that she noticed the deer she had seen were coming down a trail behind me and were coming out around 6:15. Well, bingo, right about that time I notice movement to my left and behind a stand of trees of course. It’s a very large doe that is making its way around me to the left and behind me, headed down the trail just like my wife had said earlier that morning. I can’t get a shot off, so I frantically text her “Big doe coming down the trail toward you”! I sent it in plenty of time for her to be ready should the deer make its way into her range.  What happened for the next eleven minutes makes me appreciate even more, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and the blessings of survival.

It’s been one or two minutes since the doe passed behind me. All of a sudden I hear the BANG of my wife’s crossbow, followed quickly by “SNAP, CRASH, RATTLE, RATTLE, RATTLE” as a crossbow bolt ricochetes off of tree limbs, trunks and finally lodges into a fire ant mound ten feet below me and eight feet to my left. My mind immediately goes back to my Navy days and into “General Quarters” or “Battle Readiness” and I go into “battle mode”! I turn around in the tree stand to find the direction of the incoming fire and realize, “OH GOD”, it’s my wife and she has three more bolts and a horrible sense of direction! About that time again I hear, “BANG” as the second bolt screams in, head high through the trees to my right this time and dancing wildly through the tree tops and landing twenty feet right and ten feet behind me! I’m thinking, how the heck did a shot hit fifteen feet in the top of a tree if she’s shooting at a deer on the ground? Oh, the thoughts that run through your mind during a crisis. Is it truly a deer she’s shooting at or has she snapped and suddenly thinks she’s found a way to collect on that measly life insurance policy I took out? 

At this point I’m in true "panic mode" as I peek from behind the tree from one side to the other. Of course, THIS is the morning I forgot my tree harness when I realize I’m not strapped to the tree. The thought keeps running through my head that if the wife doesn’t impale my liver to my spleen, I will fall out of this tree. I’m trying to figure out just how many shots she has left as I become the closest thing I’ll ever be to a “tree hugger” and then “BANG… CRASH, RATTLE, RATTLE, RATTLE” again is what I hear as bolt number three drops harmlessly in front of my stand and into a clearing I’d just made that very morning between hunts.

I’m hanging onto the tree with one arm and wildly waving my orange ball cap with the other screaming at the top of my lungs “Cease fire!!! Cease fire”!!! but to no avail. I hear the “BANG” of her last bolt, and I'm furiously walking that stand down the tree to the bottom in a New York hurry. Then, I remembered, SHE BROUGHT HER SPARE CROSSBOW TO THE STAND THIS MORNING AND HAS FOUR MORE BOLTS!!!! I get on the cell phone...I’m calling, texting, screaming, crying out to her to get her attention. But my wife is in full “hunt mode” and hasn’t heard anything except the voice in her head demanding her to “kill, kill, kill”! She’s been steady cocking, loading and shooting for 10 minutes now and is determined that we’re having backstrap TONIGHT. Then all of a sudden, there’s a lull in the woods, except for the knocking of my knees and the barely audible mutters of me quoting  “Bubba” Blue in Forrest Gump as he said ”I wanna go home”. Finally, God seems to have pity on me and fortunately for me, her bow jams and she can’t fire or there would have been a second barrage of four more bolts headed my way.

So, it’s been a minute or so since the shooting has stopped, I’ve gotten back control of all bodily functions but I’m still so shaky I still can’t reach her on the phone. So I start running blindly and stupidly toward her, waving my orange hat! As I make my way to the clearing by her stand, she comes outside and says “Hurry, get over here”!!!! I’m thinking "Oh my gosh, she wants to get a sure fire, close-up shot so she won't miss"!. So I walk gingerly to her stand and as I approach, she says “GET DOWN, GET DOWN, THERE ARE DEER EVERYWHERE”, INCLUDING THE ONE I’VE BEEN SHOOTING AT! So I drop to the ground, afraid if I didn’t, she’d find something to pick up and throw at me to finish the job. As we slink down in the waist high grass, a deer meanders out into the opening and wanders to within 15 feet of where we are! Then I realize what she just said, “that’s the deer I’ve been shooting at”! I now get the old “deer in the headlights look” as I began to wonder, WHO'S stupider, me or that deer? Thank the Lord the bow was jammed or that poor deer would have been legs up on a spit back at deer camp within the hour! I actually felt kind of bad for the little guy, especially after she picked up the bow again and was frantically trying to unjam the string. My next thought is whether I should take off running before she has the chance to get the bow unjammed or to scream at the deer to get the heck out of the clearing! Finally reason settled in and I did what every smart man would do when his wife has a loaded weapon right next to him..I sat down and didn't say a word.

 At that point I would have never believed I could be so amazed over two totally different events, on the same night, within 15 minutes of each other! But what happened next, was utterly amazing. For the next eight minutes the little spike that almost died with me that night, stood there in that clearing as my wife shot video of him quietly eating and staring at us. He even looked straight at us several times, but kept on grazing. Then, slowly, quietly and peacefully, he melted back into the woods. I truly had just witnessed the phenomenon called “Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde”. Ten minutes prior to videoing the deer, my wife had the crazed “kill the deer” look in her eyes and the next minute she was kneeling peacefully in the grass enjoying the second blessing that God had allowed us to witness that night. Obviously the first one is that my wife didn’t become a widow.

 It’s Tuesday now and my heart has stopped beating out of my chest, my nerves have finally settled down and the work week is here again. As I write this, I’m glad to say that my wife and I have already made plans for our next hunting trip. I can’t wait to crawl back into that stand, to see the sun rise beautifully in the East, to sip on a warm cup of hot coffee, to enjoy Gods great outdoors and the fantastic view from my NEW “perfect spot”, three-quarters of a mile away from my wife’s blind.
 Happy Hunting Texas…

"I may not get much done, but I sure am slow"...