Last night I spent a few hours in the woods. I enjoyed a sunset with the hopes for putting some meat in the freezer with the front stuffer. I had scouted an area by map and while it was my first time hunting this spot I felt I had a pretty good notion on where I could find the deer. I was right. There was a long strip that had been cleared for what I assumed was going to be powerlines. This has been quite some time ago and no lines have gone in. I picked a spot that had a deep ravine from the map and was quite a walk so I figured I'd have it to myself, and I did. The ravine was very thick and as expected the deer sign and trail were everywhere crossing this small opening. I setup on an elevated spot about 40 yards from the main trail. There was a very tall and thick wood/debris pile from the clearing that was about 10-12 feet high. I sat just inside the pile and waited.
A couple hours in I start to hear the faint sound of footsteps in the leaves approaching from behind. As it gets louder I can now tell it's multiple deer and they are literally coming up directly behind me. Now let's take a moment to discuss the difference between seeing deer while in the woods, and out hunting them. When seeing deer while hiking or woods loafing it's always a neat moment and if we're lucky we may even get a picture. A close encounter can certainly be exciting and give you a highlight for the day. Now when hunting deer the experience is totally different. You've chosen to participate in nature as a predator. Your mind quickly adapts to this role and your senses become very heightened. There's certainly a primal mindset you're in and when the moment is upon you it's a highly exhilarating experience.
So back to the deer that are fast approaching to the backside. In this moment my only thought is on which side my shot will come from. I need to be in position as they come into the clearing as the distance will be too close for any movement. The deer are now on the other side of the wood/debris pile. I can hear them breathing. It's too thick to see through. This last for about 5 minutes. If moments like this don't get your heart racing you don't need to be hunting. Finally I hear the footsteps start to make their way to my right. I'm in position and I hear a small stick pop about about 5 yards away. The gun is up, finger on the safety, just waiting for the deer to step out...I concentrate on my breathing. I feel like my heart is going to burst out of my chest. Words don't describe the anticipation of this moment. Then I hear the footsteps making their way back into the woods.
That's how it goes sometimes. You pick the right area but wrong spot. As fast as the moment happens, it can fade away. It takes a lot for a hunt to come together. Setting your goal on harvesting the animal to dictate success is an approach that will only lead to discouragement. Judge your success by the simple fact that you became part of nature again and got to experience that moment in time in the woods as more than an observer. The primal instinct is what brings me back. Some of us have it, some of us don't. Did the deer know how close they were to being prey? Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. I certainly did, and that's why I'll be back.