This year – my 15th working for this great company – I decided to take the week after Thanksgiving as vacation. Crazy… The first days of the Christmas shopping season and I am off. No big deal, it’s a slow week for groceries – everyone is still eating Thanksgiving leftovers.
Since I skipped my days off leading up to Thanksgiving the plan was to tack those 2 extra days on to vacation, along with my days off for the following week… So let’s make it an 11 day week starting on Thanksgiving Day.
Day 1 – Nov. 24: Thanksgiving
A traditional Thanksgiving Day at the In-laws…
Eat turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and *burnt rolls. There were a few other items, but this guy wasn’t touching them – potatoes are not meant to be bright orange, or sweet, or eaten with marshmallows and apples… and casserole is a cuss word to me – keep it away.
Then while everyone else watches the Detroit Lions lose a football game, I fall asleep and entertain the family with my sleep apnea.
Then – because I have workaholic tendencies and am a glutton for punishment – I spend the overnight hours (8:30pm – 4:00am) “helping” control the materialistic masses at a local Supercenter for the “Black Friday” sales that some how started at 9:23pm (approximately) on Thursday.
*Every year there is at least one item that **HAS to be messed up… this year it was just the rolls – Thankfully!
**I love my mother-in-law, but must say I am thankful my wife is a MUCH better cook than she is.
Day 2 – Nov. 25: Event Day
Get off work around 4 am – head home and sleep for a few hours. Then the real vacationing begins.
Load up the truck with food, clothes, Mickey the Mauser, plenty of ammo, wife, daughters (son was able to leave the night before), and wife’s friend (I’m not claiming her) to head to “the farm.”
I love the farm. Electricity, heat, running water, a sky full of stars, but no cell phone, no Facebook, no noise (unless you count coyotes and cattle). Us guys were able to spend the afternoon in field, searching in vain for the “Big One” – Bambi’s Daddy.
Generally after dark we get to wind down by playing a game of spades – guys dominating the girls… But, instead, the girls decide to drive to town to visit Walmart. Arghh – at least we didn’t have to go.
Day 3 – Nov. 26: Hunting
It’s amazing to me how easy it is to wake up at 5:30 am while on vacation and anticipating sitting in a tree in below freezing temperatures, with 40 mph winds howling around you, and rain falling from the sky… Now – if it were 5:30 am and I had a regular workday ahead of me it is a battle to get my head off the pillow. Yet there I was – happily donning 5 layers of clothing, slinging my 8mm rifle, sitting in the cold, wind, rain with my 10-year-old son next to me.
With nothing to do but wait – we sit, we nap, we watch, we nap some more, we watch some more.
This is a faithful early morning spot. Every time we’ve been there by 9 am we have seen plenty of deer pass through. Today is my day to take one of them home. At 8:30 am sharp, my buck comes walking by. No buck fever, steady breathing, nerves of steel, adrenaline pumping. I take aim, I squeeze the trigger – click.
Oops, I forgot to chamber the round… Doh!
It’s ok, this deer doesn’t have the best hearing. Round chambered. No buck fever, steady breathing, nerves of steel, adrenaline pumping. I take aim, I squeeze the trigger – BANG!
Deer runs about 40 yards and stops to look at me. Since he is still standing, and I am not interested in chasing him around the woods…
No buck fever, steady breathing, nerves of steel, adrenaline pumping. I take aim, I squeeze the trigger – BANG!
Two steps and down he goes – no chasing required. Here’s a picture of his good side:
I like early kills. It gives you plenty of time to dress it, skin it, and drive it into town to get it processed without having to worry about icing him down all night. The best part is that by 2:30 pm we’re back out in the field. And with mine out of the way we have the entire rest of the trip to focus on getting my son his first deer!
Sunday school, lazy afternoon, Sunday evening worship service… Love Sunday’s. Then after church head back to the farm!
Day 5 – Nov. 28: Hunting
Another 5:30 morning. Today we’ll hunt another great spot. Trudge through the wheat field, and sit along the fence looking out over another field where the deer love to play. I am definitely a little nervous at this spot.
*Flashback to 2009 – dreamy image – chimes sounding*
Along this same fence, sitting in a tree stand. I was visited by not 1, or 2, but FIVE not-so-friendly bobcats. It was definitely a mom and her 4 babies. She was definitely teaching them how to stalk prey. I got to be their prey. Yay me.
The bobcats surrounded MY tree and began hissing at me. I was really not scared at the time. These cats were pretty small, surely they would see the error of their way and run off. I sure didn’t want to shoot my rifle at these things and scare the deer away.
When two of them started climbing my tree – I decided I would have to shoot their momma and worry about the deer later. As I turned to line up the shot, they scattered – and I was able to go back to hunting peaceably… albeit with my ears tuned to the area around the base of the tree.
As soon as I got back to the farm-house I did some research and learned:
1. Bobcat season was open all the way through January 1st.
2. It’s pretty rare to see a bobcat in this area.
3. Bobcat prey on turkey, and mostly small prey – but are known to take down deer too… if they could take a deer, they could take me. Next time – shoot first, worry about scaring the deer away second.
*Dreamy image – chimes sounding – back to the future*
It looks like some one else has found this spot too. They have a feeder set up in the north-east corner of the field – 250 yards away. I’m glad they’re not here this morning. My son needs a deer. Again, sit for hours, nap, watch, listen for cats, nap, watch, listen for cats. Oh look! Another buck – way down by the feeder. The boy stirs, adrenaline starts warming him up. It’s 8:45 am – we watch from a distance for 30 minutes – no clear shots, can’t get him closer, the deer heads back into the woods – the boy has to go to the bathroom. If we make it quick, we can get to the farm-house, let him do his thing, grab some breakfast, and be back in the field by 10 am – further along the fence toward the feeder a little bit.
We made it quick. Much better spot – with a great view of the entire field. Plenty of shooting angles. Time for waiting, and watching, and napping. The boy wakes me up right around 11 am:
“Psst – dad, look!” Right there, 25 yards away, are three doe. Momentarily paused in the middle of the field looking around for danger.
“Well, get your gun up. Be slow. Wait for them to stop moving. Line it up, take your time.” The doe bound off across the field. No good shot. But we’re both awake for a little while now. There’ll be more.
Twenty minutes later, there are more. Five more. They cautiously come out and make their way to the middle of the field. Very close to where we are. These are moving slow, stopping every now and then to have a look-see.
Me to son: “Are you gonna shoot one?”
Son to me: “I think I want to wait for a buck – you shoot one.”
Okay… I’ll shoot one… Quickly line it up while they pause – squeeze the trigger – BANG!
She doesn’t go down. We’re close enough, and my gun is powerful enough – she should have. Instead, she runs a few steps, does one of those beautiful deer leaps, and runs with the others down a draw and into the woods.
Doh! I must have missed. I shouldn’t have rushed the shot. Oh well, it’s lunch time.
We go back out that evening – but don’t see anything…
And this is way too long – so:
To Be Continued…
Tune in next time to see if the boy gets his deer.