October 25, the last Saturday before opening of rifle season. We sat twice, our morning position in an area where I love to watch the sunrise. It was too warm and too quiet. Steve used the antler rattle (he is holding the pack rack in that photo above) and we did some calling with the doe bleat and the buck grunt but to no avail. The lingering summery weather meant the deer were just not moving.
We climbed down around 10:30 AM and took off on foot (don’t want truck or ATV noise to scare anything away for the day) to collect all the trail camera cards. We saw some of the first rubs of the season (one seen above, on the tiny broken tree). We also still had plenty of photos on the cards of does, (teenage) fawns, and a couple of bucks. All good sign.
After lunch, we stripped some of our heavier layers and ventured to a different spot for the afternoon. We didn’t have much hope of spying deer, given the oppressive heat, but it’s never a waste to spend an afternoon watching nature. I dozed a little and savored the stillness and the quiet.
We did have one encounter in the late afternoon that left our hearts beating a little faster. A coyote came out from behind our position and crossed right in front of us. He was aware of our presence in the tree and he was definitely spooked. As he walked, he occasionally moved his eyes toward our tree, giving us that distinctly canine furtive glance that says “I’m aware of you.” He trotted on, giving us a wide berth. Suddenly, we heard a second set of paws rustling on the leaves behind us and out came his friend. This one stopped right at the base of the tree, looked up, and made eye contact with me. Gorgeous. They may be nothing more than wild dogs to a lot of folks, and certainly a nuisance predator to all deer hunters, but I’d never seen a coyote in person up close before and damn, it was beautiful.
This was another unproductive hunting trip as far as bringing home a deer, but no hunting trip is without reward. Each time I go, I become stronger, smarter, more resilient. This hunt in particular was a lesson in patience. The heat was frustrating. We sat all of October, four weeks straight, without seeing a single deer in front of us due to weather, timing, luck. But I know now that’s how it goes. I took those weeks to become familiar with the process, to train my mind and body, and to appreciate hunting for so much more than the pursuit of the deer.
Onward to November. Recap of hunt #5 tomorrow.