Nov 16, 2009

A superstitious day

I'm not, by nature, a superstitious person. I walk under ladders, I owned a black cat, I don't throw salt over my left shoulder, I've broken mirrors (accidentally and intentionally) ... but some days, things just seem to go wrong.

In this case, it was Friday, November 13.

I'd been planning to work around the house for the morning, and go to MrsZ's family farm late morning/noonish to hang a tree stand and hunt for the afternoon.

MrsZ overslept; I woke up at 7:45 and nudged her awake, then drove her in to work. A quick stop at the store on the way home and it was nudging 10:30am. I gathered together my hunting stuff, took a quick shower, ate a quick bite, loaded the truck, and headed out around noon. Got to the farm around 1:45 as expected. Bounced across the pastures to a convenient "parking" spot.

Pulled on my clothing, put together the bow, slung my stand over my shoulder, picked up my climbing sticks, and headed toward my pre-selected spot for the stand. Beat through the brush, splashed across the creek, found my tree. Put up the climbing sticks, tied a rope to the stand, tied in to the tree, climbed up, pulled the stand up, and slowly got it hung. In the process I pinched a finger something wicked, causing me to nearly (but not quite) drop the stand and a fair bit of cursing.

Climbed down, doffed a layer since I was too warm, climbed up, hauled up my bow, and settled in to wait and watch. For the next two hours, I saw nothing, as the sun drifted westward (and into my vision) and then sank below the hill (thirty minutes before official sunset). Just as I was thinking it was time to pack up and head out, a buck walked out of the brush to my right. Large body and a tall-thin 4-point rack. Shooter. I slowly stood up and waited as he moseyed across the field about 30 yards out. A soft grunt call turned him towards me and he crossed about 20 yards out. I hadn't trimmed branches yet for shooting lanes, so I had to wait for a clear spot. I drew as he was partially screened, and waited at full draw... he stepped into a clearing, and I said my little wish and let the arrow fly...

Goddamn deer jumped the string. I've heard of it but had never seen it and didn't quite believe it. He levitated up and back about a foot while the arrow was flying, and I saw the fletchings zip about four inches in front of his brisket. He turned and ran to the middle of the field, and stood there looking confused. No grunt or bleat would bring him back my way. He slowly picked his way across the rest of the field as sunset finally became official. I stood up and started lowering my bow to the ground...

... when something came crashing across the creek from behind me. I sat down to watch and wait, and was rewarded with a doe breaking through the treeline about 45 yards to my left. She stopped cold on the edge of the field and just stood there for a moment. A few seconds later she walked towards the middle of the field. From the creekbed I heard a more steady and methodical crunching of steps. Sure enough, a minute later the four-point walked out from the same spot and followed the doe right up the field. I watched them into the gathering twilight and then set about to go home.

I bent over to adjust the length of string used for hauling my bow or gun up, and dropped my doe bleat into the brush below. No big deal. I finished adjusting the string and turned around to collect my other stuff. I picked up my water bottle, and was rewarded with the sight of my binoculars falling to the ground below - their strap had been around my water bottle. From fifteen feet up, they looked ok. I unhooked myself from the tree and started down. On the ground, the story was different - the binocs were split right down the pivot. I believe they have a no-fault warranty, however, so I'll be looking into repair/replacement and figuring out what to do for the remaining six weeks of hunting season.

After a few choice words, I went looking for my arrow ... fifteen minutes of looking (with a flashlight) and kicking at weeds yielded nothing, so I went back to the stand and looked for my bleat call. Nothing. Now I was getting irritated, so I climbed back into the stand and looked down for the bleat - and promptly saw it, buried in a pile of tops. I marked again where I'd shot the arrow and climbed back down. The call recovered from the brush, I went and looked for the arrow again, still with no luck.

I finally gave up, gathered my belongings, and headed back to the truck, and then home.

Some days you're the dog, other days you're the hydrant. Friday was definitely a hydrant day.

(Three hours in the sun, however, has amazing restorative powers.)

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