The time has come to take up the pursuit of big game. For me, big game may be smaller than others as I have a tendency to find the smallest of the creatures. Yes, my prize trophy whitetail may or may not have antlers, and may or may not have made a trip around the sun twice in their lifespan.
Not that it is all a bad thing though. I get the enjoyment of the hunt and pursuit of a dream. I also get food in the freezer. If I get a deer, that is.
I primarily bowhunt. Actually it is exclusively bowhunt to better define non-bird hunting activities. I do not have issues with hunting with firearms. I just enjoy hunting with the bow more.
I have been rather successful with the bow as well. I have taken a bison with the bow. I have taken an alligator with the bow. I have taken countless small game and even some birds with the bow. Two years ago I tagged six deer with the bow.
Last year was different.
After much preparation I anticipated another highly successful freezer-filling season. The cameras had card after card filled with deer photos including nearly a third of them during daylight hours. I could hardly wait.
I climbed in the stand around 3:30am as I do most of the time. This way the deer I may spook as I enter the stand will have relaxed and made their way back by time day breaks. I waited, and sat, and looked at my phone all day. I found a way to take a nap during the late morning only to get back in the stand once again that early afternoon.
Then, just minutes before darkness would creep its way to close the hunting day, a buck emerged. The velvet was already rubbed off, but it was a nice symetrical small eight pointer. I pulled back on the string and nestled the draw hand to my right cheek. I slowly dropped the pin from the bow sight down towards a clean lung shot.
But I didn’t release. He was no more than a year and half old. The bucks in that area have been known to grow to Pope and Young trophy size, and this was just another of that genetic make-up, only he was still a little too young to have trophy sized antlers.
It was day one of deer season. I had pictures of as many as 15 different deer, does and bucks, on the camera. I let him walk to grow feeling confident that I could at least take a few does later in the season, if not the next day.
It didn’t happen. I never had another shot the rest of the season. For the next couple of weeks I had a few does come out but all were well out of range for the bow. After that, I didn’t even see any deer during daylight. Disease had hit and there was a major kill-off.
I do not regret not shooting that first deer. I do hate that there were no more opportunities and the freezer is now bare. Will this season be like two and three years ago? Maybe. Will it be like last year?
It is a prime example of how life works though. You never know what will be your last opportunity, so sometimes you have to take what is given to you. It is hunting. It is life.