The secret to successful deer hunting
Dec. 15, 2000
A buddy approaches excitedly with a handful of photographs. "Here we go again," you think. He can't wait to show off snapshots of the giant buck he got down on Somewhere Creek.
And the story that goes along with the pictures
calls for obligatory smiles and nods and intermittent exclamations. You congratulate him and salute his success, but there is a hint of despondency here.
You haven't so much as seen a legal buck and yet your friend's grubby hands and the newspapers are full of pictures of wide-beamed trophies with antler points sticking up everywhere. And the season is getting well into December.
This happens. You have prepared well and hunted hard but the big one has eluded you. It happens to most of us. How well I know because right now it is happening to me. I haven't seen so much as a button buck after many days afield. So I am about to give myself some advice. Anyone in the same boat with me is welcome to eavesdrop.
All of my strategy for breaking this dry spell in the deer woods can be condensed into one red-letter word: patience. A deer hunter can attain success if he or she does the right things and just keeps on doing them. This lesson was one of the first I learned as a deer hunter and one learned with the highest legitimacy experience.
The experience of hunting deer 11 years before bagging my first one taught me patience and taught it well. In those days when deer were almost as scarce as the proverbial hen's teeth hunters who lacked patience left the sport in hoards, presumably to pursue more action oriented pastimes like Chinese checkers or mumbletypeg. Patience will make up for numerous hunter shortcomings. And patience will bring success if it is applied long enough. The big buck may not come along this week or the next or even this season or the next. But to the hunter who waits will come the buck with the keen nose and the heavy antlers and the swollen neck.
What's the hurry?
Most of life's endeavors these days are rushed. We are surrounded by fast food, fast modems, fast banking, fast everything. Time in the woods waiting for deer which have no reason to speed up their lives can be a return to the realities of nature. I once heard a Native American comment on our characteristic running about. "The white man is being chased by an unseen wolf," was his wise observation. The admonition to the hunter here is to go forth with a sound plan and be patient.
So, heeding my own advice, I plan to return to the woods and do some more waiting. Anticipation will sustain me. Anticipation of that high moment when my patience will at last bear fruit. And I will remind myself that our most cherished rewards often are the ones for which we wait the longest.
Otha Barham is Outdoors Editor of The Meridian Star.