Our second annual family deer camp has been challenging this year. Five days of hunting with four of us working pretty hard yielded exactly one deer. Oh, don't fret the freezer will not be empty. All three of my sons have actually had success. Youngest, the traveler across many time zones, once again got his deer opening day. Middle son has a long standing deer camp elsewhere and also got one. And the oldest, after spending Thanksgiving with us, went off to his in-laws....and bagged a nice doe that had gotten plump on his father in law's crops.
But I have yet to take a shot. So I came up for a couple of days to hunt alone.
With time on my hands I have been pondering the matter of white tail deer psychology. Setting aside for the time being our friend Eddie's peculiar Moon Deer theories, and the arcane notions of acorn abundance cycles, deer behaviour essentially comes down to this: They Eat. They Hide. They move between locations appropriate to these activities. Ideally that's when you get them.
Morning hunts have been unproductive. Heck, even a nice dusting of snow to help me out. No tracks anywhere. I have started to just pick my day break hunting sites based on places I think will be picturesque in early sunlight. Like this abandoned farmstead.
No deer. No distant gunshots to suggest others were having better luck.
For mid day I decided it was time for more active measures. If the deer were in Hiding Mode I'd go Seek them. I tromped around a tangled mess of an area marked on our map as The Ravine. Got entirely turned around and needed GPS to find my way back out. It was a creepy place to wander through. The game trails I was following were more like tunnels. And some of the trees seemed specifically hostile to the presence of Man.
Evening hunt was back at my usual spot next to the abandoned golf course. Deer were gamboling about on the fairway but never came close. I heard a horrendous crashing about directly behind me and suspect another deer approached from an unexpected angle, detected my presence and high tailed it. Again I trudge home in the dark. I am getting exercise at least.
That's how it stood as of Saturday night. One day left to the 9 day season. So, early to bed, up at 5am, drink coffee and go sit in the woods. Another nice sunrise but nothing more. Which brings us down to the final session.
And a quiet one it was. Even with my sound amplifier/dampener headset on there was no sound anywhere. A family of turkeys trotted by fussily. The sun dropped to the tree line, then below the canopy blasting directly into my eyes. After a few minutes the orange onslaught ceased and the woods started to turn to their mysterious twilight mode. I'm reminded of the old Moody Blues song...
"Cold hearted orb that rules the night,
Removes the colors from our sight,
Red is grey and yellow white,
But we decide which is right. And which is an illusion."
Bit of a somber note to end the season. I'm naturally optimistic in this as in most matters but 10 days to recharge my spirits before the 4 day "second chance" season are called for. I expect to hunt for a couple of those days, but the seasons are changing in more ways than one, and other adventures are on the horizon.