Success is such a loosely defined concept. I suppose that we each define our successes based on our personal views and beliefs. Some would consider success a large, beautiful, boring home with a Lexus and Hummer in the driveway. Add to this a membership to the country club and you’ve got just about all the success a man could need. Perhaps I’m old fashioned. Perhaps I’m just old. But an old woods loafer defines success a bit less dramatically. A refrigerator full of food, presents under the tree, and a full week with my loved ones seems to me as much success as I require. I suppose that this philosophy meanders its way into my deer hunting as well.
West Virginia has a couple of doe seasons beyond the traditional two weeks of rifle hunting. One of those seasons is open now as I write this. In fact, on my weekly schedule, I have “hunting” written twice for this week, once for this morning and once for the previous Thursday. However, as errands needed ran, packages needed wrapped, food needed purchased, and my wife needed a husband, I’ve opted to spend less time as a woods man and more time as a good man. It also deserves mentioning that with plans for a large family Christmas, our refrigerator, our freezer, and our counter space is currently occupied with ham, finger foods, sweet treats, and the like. There’s just no room left for my deer butchering operations.
However, I still consider this a successful doe season. Part of my longing for hunting or time in the wild stems from a desire to see nature: birds, squirrels, deer, raccoons, etc. I love to watch them in their daily lives. Sometimes, I even like watching without shooting. I know it seems like heresy for a hunter to admit to a fondness for watching wildlife. But I watch nature as much as I hunt for it.
From my back deck I have a marvelous view of the forest and mountains beyond it. From late fall onward, I hang a bird feeder just feet away from my sliding glass doors. Perhaps I’m altruistic and want to provide winter food for the winged visitors. But in reality, more often than not, it’s a selfish endeavor to bring nature closer to my world.
Thursday morning, when I was scheduled to be hunting, I was straightening the kitchen when I realized that my Honey Crisp apples were looking less than stellar. As opposed to simply dropping them in the trash, I most often toss them into the backyard. Squirrels steal the majority of the apples and good grief, if you’ve never had the opportunity to witness a squirrel carry a full-sized apple into a tree, you’re missing out on a finer moment in nature watching. What the squirrels don’t eat, eventually the deer find and devour.
Just around 3pm, I watched the wood line and saw the first doe present herself over the hillside, then another and another until five does were grazing in my backyard. From my back door I watched through the telescopic lens as they came closer and closer to the Honey Crisps. I adjusted my focus and held my body as still as a stone, all the while watching their movement for any indication that I was noticed. As the first doe approached the apple, I lightly touched my finger to the trigger. She was oblivious to my presence. I slowed my breathing to steady my aim. My heart beat faster in anticipation as I slowly squeezed the trigger ensuring a perfect shot. Just as she bent her head to smell the bait, I squeezed tightly allowing my trigger to fully depress. Click, click, click. The camera fires as quickly as an assault rifle allowing me somewhere around 200 shots while the does continued to eat.