Monday, December 1, 2014

The Dilemma


The Dilemma

noun
1. a situation requiring a choice between equally undesirable alternatives.
2. any difficult or perplexing situation or problem.

My knees were killing me, camo bibs frozen to the ground. The crosshairs were steady on the chest of the buck. Safety...on. It was a longish shot but doable. The Winchester bolt steady on a stick bipod. He stood motionless until my eyes grew blurry staring through the scope. Re-focus. The antlers turned slightly offering me another view. Safety? On. A single coal black eye from the deer pierced between two trees trying to locate me. Maybe a faint waif of my scent had reached him? He couldn't quite nail me down though his eye seemed to have a magnet on my blind.

About fifteen minutes earlier a single small doe had trotted by up-wind. Not really seeming to know where she wanted to go. I scanned her through the binoculars and waited. She worked her way across a hummock swampy area and then suddenly raised the flag and bounded up and over a small rise. Hmmmm. She didn't know I was here and couldn't smell me. I kept watch that direction wondering why the sudden departure.

A movement caught the corner of my eye. It's one of those quick glances that tell you instantly “that's a buck.” Yep, head down, slowly picking his way through, horns on his head. This was the real deal-reach for the gun, kneel down, peer out of the blind for a possible shot.

Last day of the season and there were no high expectations  in this buck only area. But that thought was gone-changed in an instant as the gun sat cradled into the shooting sticks. He did his best to move cautiously, like bucks on the last day do, but steadily closer. He was sure to place brush and tree trunks between himself and me at every step it seemed. Yep, an antlered rack.....not a monster or one that would score whatever numbers matter for those who know such things. Just a buck and maybe a shot. He made his way directly ahead, knowing a destination of thick swamp would be his residence for the remainder of the day. I still couldn't get a clear picture of his rack exactly, but his body size seemed a bit trim for a mature deer.

The place he stood- for....ever was maybe 90 years away between two trees. Tail behind one, head another. Turning his neck either way would give me glimpses through the scope of his headgear. 8 pointer, 5 inch brow times, main beams just at the alerted ears. Safety....still on. Clear shot at his chest and the gun seemed plenty steady-one eye looking my way. I had seemingly an eternity to decide-legs starting to cramp but I'm still okay-Safety, on.

I'd seen this buck on our property a few times this year and on a camera-pretty sure of it. Same deer, I resolved in my head. I thought then- “He'll make a really nice buck next year-I hope he makes it.” Did that thought change now as he presented this opportunity? My season would conclude with a click of the safety.

He turns his head, takes a nervous step, now sure of where he wants to go. In his deer mind, the threat passed perhaps. I lower my gun, thumb slides off the safety and I take a breath. “Come back next year young buck, if I'm skilled and patient enough maybe we can continue this little dance.” I think to myself. He silently continues off until I no longer see him though the brambles and briars. Next season there will be no dilemma.

1 comment:

  1. Nice story Steve. I hope he makes it until next year too. I got a decent 2 1/2 year old six-pointer up in Ashland County this year, my first shooter in 2 years of hunting dawn to dark every day, and a bunch of archery season. With the last two tough winters, the hunting north of Highway 8 is even tougher than it is around you.

    Curious if you use your fatbike to get out into the woods when hunting. I have about a 2 mile walk from our shack in the woods to my stand, so I really like using my Schlick to get out there. I typically am sitting in my stand before it is light enough to hunt, so walking in has no advantage. Besides, I think the rolling bike spooks fewer deer.

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