Outdoors Column

The deer that haunts my dreams

By Bill Howard | Dec 17, 2013
Photo by: File Bill Howard

I have seen signs of a huge deer each year for the last several years. He has haunted my dreams, occupied my mind, and teased my patience. Although I have stayed focused, he remains a ghost.
Just like any deer that is not running around during the rut, he can be patterned. This one though, he has mostly been a mystery. That is until two years ago. I started keeping a hunting log and discovered a few key facts. He only makes himself seen once per year. Yes, year. Last year was the first time I was able to capture him on camera.
Prior to the grainy infrared trail camera shot I had only seen his tracks. They were deep and wide and flowing. Yes, just like the fountain in the popular children’s hymn. What I mean by flowing is they would appear out of nowhere, run the course for a bit, and then they would vanish. Even in areas where I should be able to continually follow a track; they were just not there anymore.
So the date was marked. I sprinkled some corn, topped with a little oatmeal and glitter for bait. Yes glitter. I can’t quite explain it but a couple of years ago I found out the oatmeal and glitter was very successful in tempting this beast of a deer. It seems my daughter had left some glitter near my Black Magic and the two were mixed together. The next day 50 pounds of corn, 5 pounds of oatmeal, and the glitter were gone except for a few patches here and there along the tracks of where the deer had walked.
Not knowing exactly what time he would come by, I was in the stand early. Just in case he was nocturnal, my early consisted of 3:30 a.m. The cold would have been unforgiving if not for the fleece and wool camo suit that I was given last Christmas. I waited, and occasionally napped. Nothing. I had convinced my wife I needed to stay in the stand for the entirety and she conceded after much debate and my promise of a special Christmas gift for her.
Breakfast consisted of Jack Link Tender Bites. Lunch was the same. In between I had a couple of packs of Toastchee nabs. My Mountain Dews in my backpack remained cold and refreshing. The morning passed to noon and noon passed to afternoon. Other than a herd of elephants, well, make that a squirrel (you hunters know what I mean), the day was uneventful. I remained determined.
The sun was setting behind the trees and a brisk breeze complicated the cold. My shooting time was over. I still wanted to get a gaze of my nemesis and considering my cell phone had long lost all battery power, I decided to continue sitting. If you want to know what the cell phone battery had to do with my decision, it meant my wife could not call and ask where I was. I had an excuse.
Much later than I should have been in the stand, I noticed the deer I was after coming in from the left. And seven others in a herd as well. Our eyes met. He seemed to wink at me. I walked up to him and grabbed him by the antlers. And stared. And appreciated this magnificent creature. He shook his head a couple of times and the group galloped forward and a chubby fellow tossed a package to me. He said I would need it later as he and the deer took flight. It was a present with my wife’s name on it.