Anticipation can be almost as exciting as actual hunt

Anticipation can be almost as exciting as actual hunt

Look at the pictures: a hunter (male or female) kneeling or standing beside their trophy buck, duck, bunny, bull or whatever, as it should be.

For the most part, what is not shown is the time and dedication to get to this point. Yes, it is an illusion that the hunter needs to kneel 20 yards to the rear of the animal to make it look bigger in the picture.

But there is so much more that makes hunting fun. It’s the anticipation of the hunt, like Christmas morning to a child, counting the days, hours, minutes until season opens (I’m not admitting anything). I say when that excitement fades, it’s time to quit and go golfing (sorry, golfers).

Recently we had rebooked the “No Goose Goose Hunt” (Bargain Hunter, Sept. 21) again with Ace’s X Waterfowl. Our last outing was a bust, so they let us come back at no charge. This time they had us meet them at the gas station in Wadsworth at 5 a.m. Yes, in the morning, which is a 57-mile drive taking more than an hour, which transpires into leaving at 3:30 a.m. (potty break allowance), which means getting your behind out of bed, getting all the “hunters” out of bed, loading every piece of camo you own in the truck, guns, enough shells to hold off an enemy invasion (no exaggeration there) and warm up the truck.

This ol’ boy had a few hours sleep and was up at 2:30 a.m.

Twenty-minute ride to the pond, 30-minute blind setup, decoys set, six hunters, four guides.
Four-hour sit, netting two geese and a duck. Disappointing, yes. Would I do it again? Just tell me where and when.

We did take one of the biggest ganders I’ve ever seen — yes, he’ll probably be mounted in my trophy room — and we were stormed by a huge flock of wood ducks early. But it’s the anticipation and the memories that make the hunt, not necessarily the kill.

Here at home, even just the sighting of deer, gets this hunter excited. The preparations at home are done. Stands are in place including Taryn’s tower, which had to be raised again after it blew over in that heavy wind storm we had a few weeks ago. It makes it a bit harder to find time to hunt with the time change and still go to work each day, but that actually adds to the anticipation of getting out there in the woods.

One late afternoon I was at the house when I spotted the black doe in my field. Actually she’s not really black, just real dark brown, but we try to set a name or attribute of each animal to identify it. I grabbed my crossbow and began my stalk, once again using the trees and wind to my advantage to close the distance, silently moving with what I call the woods walk: heel first, rotating to toe, feeling for sticks and listening for dry leaves that might make a noise.

I actually got within 70 yards before the wind gave me away and she snorted her “displeasure” and took off. Didn’t kill but had fun anyway.

Likewise, last weekend I moved a stand to intercept a trail where we have been seeing deer frequent. It’s not as easy to set these stands up as it used to be. I think they’re making them a lot heavier than they used to and more awkward to adjust to once you’re on the ladder. Don’t you agree?

Anyway, that evening in the stand, the “twins” showed up: two yearling does that we see all the time with their mama. They came in from behind me to within about 30 feet until they picked up my scent from where I had walked. That immediately sent them into caution mode.

As they surveyed their surroundings, the one did pick me out. If you’ve never seen a deer go into a staredown, it’s hilarious in this case. If it’s a trophy buck, it’s nerve-wracking. Actually you’re not supposed to make eye contact, but this was fun to watch. She does this slow foot stomp to warn her sister that something’s amiss and to show her displeasure. Then she slowly turns her head, hoping to catch you moving so she can blow out of there. They cautiously trotted off, showing the hunter’s bye-bye flag (tail up).

Fun without a kill. Hunting doesn’t always mean killing. Enjoy the sport. Enjoy the friendships. Enjoy nature.

From Taryn and I, we wish the best of Thanksgiving to you and your family. May the blessings God has granted you enrich your life and in turn allow you to share them with others.

God bless.

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