November 1, 2009
Morning Hunt: A lesson in utter humiliation.
4:00am. I am once again awakened to the smell of yummy things being fried in the kitchen. I roll over. Flip my pillow to the cool side and pull the comforter further up under my chin. I am REALLY rethinking this entire hunting thing. Is it really necessary to get up this early? This is inhumane. No one in their right mind gets up at this time of day for FUN!
Pride forces me out from under the weight of the nice cozy comforter. I’ve got something to prove. To myself. To the naysayers back in Louisiana who think I’m dabbling in some passing interest.
Henri informs me I’ll be needing the harness. Oh joy. Billie, Linda and I load up and head out. After a short drive Henri drops the other two ladies off and we head out into the darkness. He’s telling me something about the deer coming in along the ridge from my left. I’m so sleepy I can’t focus. I’m so terrified of the darkness I can’t focus. What I hear is “whah whah whah ridge, whah whah left”. We bounce up the hill and around the corner and end up in a green cul de sac. Henri gives me directions to the stand which is about 10 yards up the path and to the right, reminds me to “follow the Bright Eyes”. As I’m TRYING to quietly exit the truck he says “You’ll do good!”
He was wrong, so very, very wrong.
Lesson #1- FOLLOW THE BRIGHT EYES and NOT EVERY NOISE IS SOMETHING THAT WANTS TO KILL ME
I left the truck and walked through the opening in the trees. Flashlight in hand, I crept through the forest. The darkness was like a blanket, a terrifying cold wet blanket. Each sound I heard was some creature coming to make me their breakfast. I’m extremely afraid of the dark. It’s almost pathological. And yet, here I was in the wilds of Alabama with a Maglite in hand traipsing about in the dark.
I stopped. I realized I’d walked a lot further than 10 yards and didn’t see any Bright Eyes. Shit.
I could feel the panic rising up. My heart rate already elevated jumped into an entire new gear. Sweat began running down my neck. So much for Scentlock.
I gathered myself up. Slowed down my heart and breathing. Reminded myself that the sun would EVENTUALLY come up “see there’s light already peeking through the trees” and that I wasn’t REALLY lost. I walked another 5 yards up the path until I reached a steep drop off. Henri hadn’t mentioned a huge drop, so I was pretty sure I’d overshot the turn for the stand.
I began retracing my steps. After 10 minutes of backtracking I broke down and called Henri-“well, I’m lost. I can’t find the stand”
He was extremely gracious! He told me the directions again and assured me that I’d simply passed the turn. He was right. I had walked right by the flagging and Brighteyes on my way in. If there had been a flashing neon sign, I probably still would have missed it.
Lesson #2- If your stand is in front of a rise of land one must be ever so careful about peeping around the tree.
I think this one is self explanatory, but I’ll elaborate.
Once I’d settled into the stand I was prepared for a long morning of seeing nothing but leaves. I was pretty sure I’d destroyed any hope with my morning walk.
I was shocked to see three beautiful does coming down the ridge around 9am that morning. They were no where near my shooting area so I watched them graze. They walked along my left side within yards of my stand. At one point the middle sized one was within about 5 yards of me. I don’t think I’ve EVER been that still in my life! They made their way behind my stand. I could hear them quietly walking through the leaves, stopping occasionally to graze on the acorns. After 10 minutes of this I was dying! I couldn’t stand it. I could hear them but had no idea where they were.
I decided to peeeeeeeeeeeep around the tree. I took a slow, deep breath and steadied myself for the stealth action that was required. I turned my chin to the left and ever so slowly began leaning to the left. I turned my head and found myself what seemed like eye to eye with one of the does. I don’t know who it startled more, her or me. We both jumped and the last I saw of them was their white tails topping the ridge.
I’d forgotten that the land rose up behind the tree I was in. When I’d peeped behind the tree I was in their direct line of site.
This hunt was quickly becoming a lesson in what not to do. Any anti hunting group would be THRILLED if all hunters were as inept as it was looking like I was.
Henri was gracious as always when he picked me up, even after I told him of my epic failure. The NHB’s were as well. I’d like to think that everyone made mistakes when they were novice hunters.
I was beginning to think I’d never actually harvest a deer. I was glad I was enjoying the company!