I was still a half-hour away and I could already feel my mind and body were both relaxed, for a change.
It’s often said in exaggeration, but the last four months honestly have seemed like as many years because of a couple of fairly serious personal injuries, mentoring a child while helping with the care of cancer-stricken 91-year-old friend,, There were also a few hundred hours invested in producing the cookbook, a six-part series on state parks, as well as the usual deadlines for the Outdoors page and other parts of The Eagle.
I really can not put into words how good it felt to be heading for my first bowhunt of the season.
Having heard fawns were still running with does, and that there were no roadkills along Highway 50, didn’t leave me a lot of hope for getting a shot at a good buck but I was kind of hoping to take a doe to fill some of the empty space in our freezer. To be honest, I was sure it would be a great hunt even if I didn’t see a deer.
The spot was a sweet set-up on property owned by my buddy Ed Markel. This summer his wildlife biologist, and my friend, Justin “Boomer” Bremer, had made a good spot better by planting a quarter-acre food plot of wheat and winter peas along a farm trail that lead from a great bedding area and on to a bigger field of wheat and a stream with fresh water.
Trail cameras showed some nice bucks in the area. Boomer promised me I’d at least see does.
He said they’d been showing up around 5 p.m., but by 5:30 p.m. I hadn’t seen a deer. No matter, by that time the sunlight was at the special angle that made the yellow Osage orange leaves seem to glow, and shadows stand in dark contrast to the rain-enriched emerald wheat and surrounding pasture or flaxen prairie grasses.
And about 20 minutes later a mature doe and a yearling meandered out into the middle of the food plot. I grabbed my bow and waited until the larger whitetail slowly nibbled along until she stopped about 12 yards in front of the blind. It would have been a slam-dunk shot, even for me. She was unaware and I was slowly working on the concentration and physical preparation for making a good shot with a bow.
Then, she lifted her head and looked back in the direction from which the pair had come. Just as I was raising the bow the yearling did the same thing. Both were staring intently back towards where a major trail crossed a creek and came into the food plot.
I set the bow back down in my lap and peaked out a side window of the blind. I couldn’t see anything coming, but the does kept staring south. I wondered if it might be one of the good bucks in the area. The buck with the droptines? The typical 12-pointer? Maybe the property had picked up the kind of huge eight-pointer it always seems to have at least one of?
Instead a few minutes later a doe and two fawns crossed the creek and trotted into the food plot. The doe, which was much larger than the one already in the plot, also ended up presenting me with a very easy shot. It, too, was soon looking back southward.
This time I took the bow off of my lap, and placed it in the stand beside me in the blind.
There would be plenty of time to start taking the three deer Kathy and I normally need to get us, and some other family members, through the coming year.
For the first hunt of the year, I was completely satisfied just to sit back and watch, and enjoy a chance to relax, as a total of eight does and fawns fed placidly no more than 30 yards away.