This is the last weekend in my unit for extended deer hunting. As incredible as bagging my first deer was during bow season, I had anticipated rifle season for the opportunity to use my Browning Medallion 270 bolt action rifle. My step-father sold it to me for a buck (pun intended), but it was really a gift. The rifle had been hunting when he gave it to me; I had not. I’ve been jonesing for the feel and sound of the crisp, single shot aimed squarely at the deer who would complete my organic protein source for the year, and give me the opportunity to have some meat packed up and shipped to my son.
So I’ve been going out to the blind each day I’m off work in hopes that it would be the successful hunt-day I’ve been waiting for. And with the exception of three beautiful deer I saw last Friday, that I was unable to target because of crappy placement (I guessed incorrectly when I chose the tree to the right as cover), I haven’t seen any deer. My supervisor at work kindly approved my request to take this afternoon off so I could return to the blind (the tree to the left); and I even bought extra under-garments to stave off the cold from the arctic weather we’ve been experiencing here in the Flint Hills. The temperature at 1500 was 20 degrees, with winds at 10-15 MPH creating a wind-chill that made it feel like 5 degrees. But I went anyway; wearing two pair of “thermals” under my SHE hunting pants, four shirts under my winter hunting jacket, and two pair of wool socks in my boots. I had my balaclava on my face, two pair of gloves on each hand, Hot Hands stuffed in each glove and in my pants pockets.
While the sun was up, I was reasonably comfortable. Once the sun set, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped, and I found myself shaking like the Cowardly Lion when he faced the Wizard for the first time. Except I was cold, not scared. By the time I got home I could barely move my feet. It felt like the blood in my toes had frozen solid, and when I undressed my extremities, my feet were red, with a little purpling at the tips.
All the people I know who hunt quit when the weather chilled. Not me. This is my first year hunting and I want to experience it with gusto! Had I bagged a deer today, folks would be calling me hardcore, a diehard hunter, a rock star…. As I didn’t even see a deer, most folks who know I went out hunting probably just call me crazy. I’d like to attribute it to something apropos like Buck Fever; but Buck Fever is nervous excitement felt by the novice hunter at the first sign of game. I don’t have that. I have an obsession; a compulsive preoccupation with a fixed idea… the idea that I’m going to bag a second deer my first year hunting, using my rifle to complete the task.
Tomorrow is my last hope; my last opportunity to triumph. Technically Sunday is the last hunt day until bow season starts again in September, but I have to have a down day. Sun or not, I need that last weekend day to get my “sun daze” on, or do laundry. And as I have never seen a deer while hunting in the morning, I will only hunt tomorrow afternoon. Fortunately we’re expecting a heat wave and it will be a high of 36 degrees, with a low of 20.
Whatever happens, it will be nice to have the obsession squashed, albeit by state hunting regulations. I think I remember doing things on the weekends, before I started hunting; and I do want to go see American Sniper at the movie theatre. On the other hand; I truly love my time in the blind, especially in the meadow where I started hunting last weekend. It’s so beautiful and peaceful, and the tall grass smells so sweet. Come Spring, however, I’ll be taking some field trips out to the meadow and woods looking for antlers, taking photographs, and possibly getting a feel for where the deer hang out – for next season.
To bastardize an online quote; “God has added one more day in your life, not because you need it… but because it’s still hunting season.”