Outdoors Column

The time is here

By Bill Howard | Sep 05, 2013
Photo by: File Bill Howard

The time is here. Ever since January hunters have anticipated this day. Whether it followed a successful season in which the freezer was filled and the rewards of the chess game against the buck of a lifetime are now hanging from the wall or if the season ended in disappointment as the prey out gamed the predator and all that was gained was a few glimpses and encounters that ended with the buck walking away, the feelings are the same.
The spring and summer were spent planting food plots and preparing stand locations. Trail cameras were hung and moved and checked to find out who made it and who did not. Occasionally one is recognized from the year before. There is a sense of almost fatherly pride as the small fork horn from last season is now endowed with the body of a Kentucky Derby racehorse with a main frame eight in velvet towering above. Yes, there it is, a small kicker off the right G2 to make it that much more unique.
Your sweat, blood and tears (usually the tears are a result of the blood) have been poured into all the preparation needed to invite these habitual trespassers onto the land.
When not in the field, equipment was cleaned and tended. Countless hours of practice were spent in order to perfect the killing shot. Visualization of the deer’s approach and the location of the vitals were used to make the shot and calm the nerves. The sights were adjusted, and adjusted, and adjusted. Perfection became calling. Nothing else mattered.
And here it is. All of this time, all of this preparation for just the opportunity to make the shot. Perhaps the camera’s results showed the deer coming to the food plot at 4 a.m. That is fine. You are a hunter. You will get there early and wait. There is nothing wrong with a short nap from 20 feet in a tree. The sun’s cresting of the treetops makes a scenic alarm clock. The cool morning air soothes the lungs that have endured months of hard work, humid hot summer air. Your body not only welcomes the change from being indoors, it encompasses the outdoors.
As you wake you hear the crunching of corn kernels. A slight musk mixed with the scent of wet vegetation reminds you that you are in Heaven. You are conscious of your movements. Just as a chameleon blends in with its environment and only moves it eyes, you do the same. One wrong move will mean the end to these months of preparation. All the correct moves will mean months of true organic food.
You observe the way the prey are protecting themselves. One eats, one looks. They alternate. Every few seconds or so you spot the ears turning away from you toward the field. The one eating lifts his head and scans around. They do not realize you are there.
Your breath begins to quicken as you prepare to make your move. The left hand slowly edges toward the weapon. “Got to control myself,” you think. You breathe in deeply through your nose. You exhale slowly and quietly through pierced but open lips. Much better.
Your hand grips the handle. White knuckles. No, relax. Your right hand slowly draws back. You don’t even notice the 70 pounds at this point. It is purely off instinct and muscle memory. The grip hand is no longer holding, it is just there to keep the bow in place. The sight pin is focused through the small peep hole in the string. It settles just behind the shoulder of the deer.
This is your story. Get out there and finish it.
Readers of Bill Howard’s Outdoors Column can contact him with  their successes this hunting season (including youth with first kills) at billhowardoutdoors@gmail.com.

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