Thursday, November 8th, 2012
Rough Notes from the Woods 5
Bowhunting – Kanawha County
On my fourth attempt at mastering, alas – succeeding, in the art of bowhunting, I have again come up empty handed.
As I made my slow and deliberate walk to my tree with bow in one hand, stand in the other, and pack on my back, I felt certain of success. The deer are moving and bucks are plenty this season.
I hastily made my way up the tree with little to mention. After reaching my preferred height, I raised my gear and arranged all of the details. All went smoothly. I was quickly surrounded by bluejays. Although quite beautiful, they always prove to be a loud and annoying intruder on a hunt. Gradually the bushytails began their evening play. Even when they are not my intended quarry, I enjoy the playfulness of the grey squirrel. However, their bouncing on the forest floor’s dead leaf carpet often misleads me into expecting a whitetail’s approach.
As the sun fell below the western mountain ridge, the temperature dropped commensurately. “If you’re not a hunter, you can’t really appreciate the meaning of cold.” I would later explain to my father. “It’s even worse in a treestand. When you sit still for that long, the cold just seems to permeate you all the way to your bones.” Even now as I write this in the comfort of my house, three hours and two cups of coffee later, my hands and feet still hold the remnants of the burning sensation of the cold.
For today’s hunt, I had envisioned that just before nightfall, I would see a doe and closely following her would be a commendable, if not extraordinary eight-point buck. Just as I had imagined, I heard movement from behind me caused by the movement of O. virginianus of the female persuasion. She walked casually into my planned kill-zone and for a moment, I considered taking the shot. Prior to my hunt, I determined that today would be the last day of my buck’s only policy. I reminded myself of this fact and allowed her to continue grazing. I fully expected her antler-clad beau to arrive shortly. As darkness crept deeper and deeper over me, I could hear movement from behind but never saw my eight-point or any of his companions.
As we approach opening day of rifle season and the orange army of hunters, my chances of taking a buck in the sportsmanlike manner of archery lessens. After today, I am allowing myself either buck or doe, but in reality, I’m quite likely to pass again on an antlerless prey.