I have seen signs of a huge deer each year for the last several years. He has haunted my dreams, occupied my mind, and teased my patience. Although I have stayed focused, he remains a ghost.
Just like any deer that is not running around during the rut, he can be patterned. This one though, he has mostly been a mystery. That is until two years ago. I started keeping a hunting log and discovered a few key facts. He only makes himself seen once per year. Yes year. Last year was the first time I was able to capture him on camera.
Prior to the grainy infrared trail camera shot I had only seen his tracks. They were deep and wide and flowing. Yes, just like the fountain in the popular children’s hymn. What I mean by flowing is they would appear out of nowhere, run the course for a bit, and then they would vanish. Even in areas where I should be able continually follow a track; they were just not there anymore.
So the date was marked. I sprinkled some corn, topped with a little oatmeal and glitter for bait. Yes glitter. I can’t quite explain it but a couple of years ago I found out the oatmeal and glitter was very successful in tempting this beast of deer. It seems my daughter had left some glitter near my Black Magic and the two were mixed together. The next day 50 pounds of corn, 5 pounds of oatmeal, and the glitter were gone except for a few patches here and there along the tracks of where the deer had walked.
Not knowing exactly what time he would come by I was in the stand early. Just in case he was nocturnal, my early consisted of 3:30 am. The cold would have been unforgiving if not for the fleece and wool camo suit that I was given last Christmas. I waited, and occasionally napped. Nothing. I had convinced my wife I needed to stay in the stand for the entirety and she conceded after much debate and my promise of a special Christmas gift for her.
Breakfast consisted of Jack Link Tender Bites. Lunch was the same. In between I had a couple of packs of Toastchee nabs. My Mountain Dews in my backpack remained cold and refreshing. The morning passed to noon and noon passed to afternoon. Other than a herd of elephants, well, make that a squirrel (you hunters know what I mean), the day was uneventful. I remained determined.
The sun was setting behind the trees and a brisk breeze complicated the cold. My shooting time was over. I still wanted to get a gaze of my nemesis and considering my cell phone had long lost all battery power I decided to continue sitting. If you want to know what the cell phone battery had to do with my decision it meant my wife could not call and ask where I was. I had an excuse.
Much later than I should have been in the stand I noticed the deer I was after coming in from the left. And seven others in a herd as well. Our eyes met. He seemed to wink at me. I walked up to him and grabbed him by the antlers. And stared. And appreciated this magnificent creature. He shook his head a couple of times and the group galloped forward and a chubby fellow tossed a package to me. He said I would need it later as he and the deer took flight. It was a present with my wife’s name on it.