It was 21 degrees when we headed into the woods. I just needed a deer to complete my grand slam. I had a doe tag and was eager to get into my stand. The leaves were crunchy with frost but the woods were calm. I climbed into the Sky Condo and waited for the world to awaken. Almost immediately, animals started moving. I sat perfectly still, my breath hidden by my green fleece balaclava. It was almost an hour before I could see well enough into the woods to know if I was hearing deer or squirrels (it was squirrels).
A deer blew from the end of the field. Something must have spooked it. The neighbor? I knew that if I was going to change seats, this would be the time. Nothing had come into the field. I grabbed my gear and walked as slowly as I could to the next stand. It wasn’t far, but it was tucked into the woods enough that I might catch a deer crossing an old skidder trail.
Taking a deep breath, I sat down and sent Dad a quick text to let him know which stand I was in. He replied to keep an eye out for 4 does that he had jumped. I had a doe tag. I was ready and on alert.
The more you hunt, the better you get at instinctively knowing the sound of walking vs scurrying. Something was walking at me. I grabbed the gun and swung 90 degrees to my right. I rested my arm on the edge of the stand. The corner post prevented me from moving further to the right. I searched for the cause of the noise. It startled me when I found it; the brown body of a deer. My movement had stopped it. There was a tree blocking me from seeing it’s head, and blocking it from seeing me. I leaned back slowly, pulling the gun with me until the barrel was back inside the stand. I pivoted slowly and lowered the gun out the back door of the stand.
I lifted the scope and found the arch of the deer’s shoulder. I was at an angle that was not ideal. I could hit the vitals but I could also hit guts. I placed the crosshairs more forward than I would have liked and squeezed the trigger. I watched him run into a bunch of thick saplings. The beach trees still held their light brown leaves and I struggled to see him. Then, he appeared at the end of a shooting lane. He was on his feet and his tail was flickering. I reloaded my gun. He staggered to his left and appeared to fall but I wasn’t sure. I sat and listened. Leaves rustled. I wanted things to be quiet. More rustling.
I sent Dad a text ‘I think he is down but I’m not sure he is dead”
“Ok. I’m on my way”
I stayed in my stand, watching and listening. Suddenly, the woods seemed to erupt with action. A deer ran by the end of another shooting lane. Another deer was blowing and running away from me. A gun shot rang out. There would be two tags punched.
We started walking from where I shot the deer to where I saw him run. I found blood. A steady path of blood. “He’s right here” Dad said. With a smile, he gave me a big hug, “You did it!”
Dad left to get the four wheeler and I found his buck (it dropped where it had stood) and dragged it closer to where mine was. I stood in the woods alone and tried to comprehend what I had accomplished. In two months and three days, I had shot a deer, turkey, moose and bear. I had completed my grand slam!