Wednesday, November 19, 2008
the usual doe
Good morning...I have been too busy with all this moving stuff and getting the house ready to sell. The handyman pushed up his schedule and is painting and such earlier than anticipated so I have been moving furniture and removing things from the wall, cleaning corners that haven't seen a broom in awhile. Oh! Miss Etta is always under foot, she got her little noggin shut in a closet door last night. Her hurt feelings were the worst injury she incurred, although she loves the new spots- she christens each one with a puddle. Fun, fun, fun.
I am not deer hunting this year, not time enough to get ready, I haven't shot my gun all year. My Dad has a beautiful piece of property in Pike County, more big deer than you can shake a stick at. He lives and loves it there. My brother and his family will go, my Uncle Bob too. Good Ol' Grandma, at such and such an age- still manages to be a part of it all. She has seen more carnage than all of us, has heard more dramatic deer tales than an early morning diner on opening day, and has lived this long to still just chuckle and say, "maybe next year." She always managed a "good for you", no matter how small the harvested deer was.
So, it is with a memory's tale that I write today. I have deer hunted since I was a teen. My brother's too. Dad was an operating engineer, winter's weren't hard, just a bit tough when it came to money for buying winter rations. We always had wild game in the freezer, and I had learned as a young girl- how to cook it. We all learned to hunt early on, and even before that- we tagged along, always included- sometimes sitting by silently while Dad took aim. One big man and six little hands would help to drag the deer up and over and through deep ravines to get it home. Carharts and blaze orange was our fashion statement. When I was sixteen or seventeen, I got to feeling too much like a girl and began to take only photos from my tree stand. But then, after my children were born- I began to hear the call of the wild and an empty freezer again, and so I went back to hunting. It was always hard, yes I often teared up when I killed a deer. To this day, I say a "thank you", in an Indian sort of way, for the blessing of the harvest. There is nothing like knowing that the food on the table was harvested honestly, reverently and gratefully.
Once I filled my limit within twenty minutes after sunrise on opening day. A Buck in rut came crashing through some underbrush hot on the heels of a beautiful doe who was having no part of his Buck-love pursuit, he was crazy for her though and made no cautious attempt at hiding it. Twelve points and full of lust, I dropped him and shortly there after, her too. I sat in my stand another twenty minutes or so to make sure that I had cleanly killed them both, leaving them alone for a time to settle down and pass on silently. I found him right where my shell found him, fifty yards up a hill and on the edge of a ravine. I tagged him and marveled at his beauty and size. I remember following the trees and land line that I had followed previously with my eyes from my tree top stand, and found the doe peacefully lying in a Golden Rod bed not forty yards from where the buck laid down. I leaned over to tag her hind leg, no problem- on went the tag. Then I followed up her body, while hovering over her like a wrestler getting ready to make my next move, when...she jumped up and off she ran! I stood there incredulous, all I remember thinking is "how do I explain this to Dad?!" I sat down and waited for her to lay down and die, listening for thrashing and then silence. I never heard it from my listening post. I knew better than to run after her, even close to death a deer will run and run and run some more, and just when you think that every drop of breath left holding on in them had been utilized- they'll surprise you with their survival skills and go on running.
I did not know how I would explain this one back at camp, I had done everything by the book, left her to lay for a good long time, applied the legal notice to the leg where the tag should be adhered and she never even made a whisper.
I remember Dad looking at me like I was mad, and he was even madder because I had not suffered enough, the Deer Hunt. No one fills their limit on opening day, you must sit and wait and freeze and love every minute of it. That's the rule. I explained to Dad that the buck was bigger than I had shot the previous year (rule number 2) and the doe would not leave the vicinity and she was also a bigger than the usual doe. He thought I was lying when I said that I had in fact tagged her, stroked her- made my thanksgiving for her while straddling her still body.
Long story shortened. We found her, following a tiny pin hole blood trail about 150 yards from where she had first begun her last sprint. She was peaceful, she was mine- the tag on the hind leg saying so. It's a good story, a true story...but I imagine they'll tell it this weekend and laugh. They always do. "Imagine if someone would have found that doe miles away, with another hunter's tag!" Dad always questioned my nationality after that escapade, perhaps wondering if they received the wrong baby at the hospital after all.
Happy hunting, take care-