Hunting and the Virtue of Patience

Anyone who knows something about the zodiac, particularly the sun sign Leo, knows that the number one lesson a Leo must learn is the virtue of Patience. Associated with the mentality of a teenager, the Leo wants what she wants, and wants it now! I determined, while hunting this weekend, that the number one gift of hunting is the lesson of patience. After 26.5 hours over several weekends, I have twice spotted deer and gotten zero shots off.

By the way, of the two deer sightings; I would hazard a guess the total time with eye to eye deer contact has been at most 15-20 minutes… out of 26.5 hours. If that doesn’t require patience to endure, I’m at a loss as to what does.

My first deer sighting was two Fridays ago (or maybe three) when I saw the young buck I did not shoot. I was mesmerized by him and studied his psychology instead. I felt like he and I had a meaningful, albeit brief, relationship before he high-tailed it back into the forest after pawing the ground and snorting at me. I didn’t mind letting him go, at that time, because he was young, and I was awestruck. I decided later that, should our paths meet again, young or not, he would be mine.

Once I realized I had suffered a severe (by my standards) rash on my buttocks from urushiol oil, the by-product of poison sumac, poison ivy and poison oak, I determined I would get that young buck for leaving me up in a treestand, sitting on poison sumac for over 15 hours without another shot. I also learned another lesson on patience, regarding the healing time of an urushiol oil rash, and a secondary lesson in the poison sumac plant. Prior to sitting on its pretty autumn colored leaves for hours at a time, I knew nothing about it, and had never heard of it. That’s when my supervisor at work mentioned it and I looked it up; and low and behold, there it was! What I learned; is that the oil stays on any surface it’s touched for two to five years if not cleaned. I also learned it’s almost impossible to fathom all the places and things I touched with the oil on my clothes and my hands. Next time you come home, do what you normally do, and then in five minutes stop and recount all the surfaces you may have come in contact with since you left work, from door knobs to keys, to car seats (on the way home) and recliners (once you got home). This has been my penance for hunting; doing laundry over and over, and washing each surface I can imagine touching; placing a garbage bag on my recliner and in my truck to sit on until I can get a steam cleaner. Somewhere, the oil has remained, hopefully no more, as I have continued to add rash spots on my arms and legs even while not hunting.

Sighting number two came last night; a herd of does. I did not realize that at the time, however. In order to avoid my friend’s treestand, like the plague, I brought a camo fishing stool and sat in a natural tree blind. It was a great cover, except for the lack of shoot-ability. My plan was for any deer that showed up to mosey over to the sweet deer corn and apples I had been laying out over several weeks; a little incentive to return (hopefully while I was hunting), so I had placed myself strategically in line with the food. My next lesson was that deer do not get as excited by free food as I do. I thought I saw a young buck and his doe enter the clearing en route to the pond so I bleated, to get them to follow the sound and catch a whiff of the food. But the doe I spied stayed put. Had I not been stuck behind a tree I would have had a perfect, clear shot, even at dusk. I know I was not seen, because she remained, slowly walking closer to the pond. Then I saw another doe walking alongside the pond. I thought that if I could just turn, I could get off a shot, and I bleated a again. Somewhere along the line, however, the deer got spooked, and suddenly I saw five or more white tails flipped up and leaping back into the forest with one of the does screaming bloody murder!

Because it was dusk, I hadn’t seen the others. Because of the tree and how I placed myself, I couldn’t get a shot off. And because I lacked the patience to allow them time to just meander, I bleated on my deer call and alerted them to the presence of something in the tree blind (me). Another opportunity to learn more patience; because sitting on a stool for three hours was not, by itself, enough of a lesson on patience.

My friend John, whose property I have been squatting on, said he’d seen a buck and his doe Saturday morning where I normally park my truck to go to the pond area, so I decided to move to that location this morning in hopes of another chance. Alas, I saw no deer. I did, however, see at least two skunks; one which trotted into the natural forest blind I was in, and one that sat at my target location chomping down on the apples I had placed there to entice the deer. He ate for quite some time, and if I had any idea how one de-stinks a skunk and cooks it, I may have taken him down, for he (or she) was surely fattened by the time dawn came. I also learned to be very still, more still that I have managed up to this point. It is one thing to endeavor stillness when the deer are coming, so as not to spook them; quite another to remain motionless so as not to scare a skunk who may spray if spooked.

My intention was to return the pond area tonight; however I suspect that the deer I saw last night will avoid the area for a bit. It appears to me that deer are somewhat migratory; travelling around their territory over the course of days and returning when they start over (so to speak). I haven’t seen the young buck again, so figure he either fell to another hunter, or our paths just don’t cross. Instead of hunting again tonight, I may just wait until next Friday night; give myself a break, give my knees and back a break, spend some quality time with Daisy (who has to be crated while I hunt), and continue working on prepping my apartment for Thanksgiving. I may also switch to domestic diva mode and bake another pumpkin pie… sort of like a loser’s ribbon to recognize a resolute, if unsuccessful, effort.

It would have been wonderful had my father, while I was growing up, introduced me to hunting as he did to fishing and love of nature. It has been my goal for years to hunt, and as far back as 2009 (which really isn’t that far) I was a member of Women in the Outdoors (WITO, a sub-group of the National Wild Turkey Federation) with a hog hunt planned in Florida. Loss of employment and a move required I cancel my hunt, and I have subscribed to hunting magazines ever since, in the hopes of manifesting an opportunity. Hunting for the first time isn’t like fishing… field dressing a deer is nothing like gutting a one pound trout; and to my knowledge, no one has ever been accidentally killed when one fisherman inadvertently hooks another. Hunting is one of those sports that I believe requires guidance at least, mentoring at best. The NRA Hunter Services are big proponents of teaching youth to hunt, but no one markets specifically to middle aged women… “Take an older woman hunting, and pass it on.” Sadly, WITO doesn’t ever seem to be faring well in the states I consider joining, although it’s an excellent program for teaching women outdoors sportsmanship at a really reasonable cost. Some NRA hunts cost more than my truck (which may not be saying much since it’s a 1990). But since my friend John and I found each other, he has been awesome at availing the hunting opportunity to me on his private land, where I have peace of mind that I can hunt safely, and once I do (finally) get that deer (whichever deer….) he will be there to teach me how to gut it, do a cursory field dressing, and show me where to take it for processing – plus he’ll carry it, something I would struggle with, given my disability.

Hunting early morning in Kansas with my Parker Bows Challenger crossbow, watching dawn ascend.

Hunting early morning in Kansas with my Parker Bows Challenger crossbow, watching dawn ascend.

I shall carry on, however. I will not quit until I get my deer during bow season, and my turkey for Thanksgiving. Perhaps, once the rut begins, my luck will turn, and I can earn my novice hunting badge (if one exists). You’re never too old to start hunting….

(This was first published 12 October 2014 on Facebook by Sara Crusade – GalHunterMidlife)

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