There’s an awkward moment of silence. Neither party is willing to speak.
Finally the sheriff decides to make the first move. I guess they are more accustom to these types of situations.
“Sir, are you still on the line?” I hear her ask.
“What do you mean “No”?” I stammer into my cell phone.
“I’m sorry sir, but that’s just what he said to me, no.” She replies.
“ I see. Uh… well that’s heartbreaking.” I reply, followed by more silence. “I thank you for your time.”
And just like that I have my answer.
Hours earlier I had been hunkered down in my stand, not willing to move. The forest was still in that desaturated phase of pre-dawn. There were deer flowing past my stand like the currents of a calm river.
I looked to my right out of my peripheral. A monarch of a buck was staring through me. How he saw me only God knows.
He walked off, almost nonchalant. He knew it was too dark for me to try my luck at him.
As the dimmer on the earth’s light source was increased, the deer started to dissipate into the shadows. They had this timed perfectly. They knew when it was safe to be seen and when it would cost them their life.
I let out an exhale to push the morning’s events aside. There would be more.
I peered over at my backpack, wondering if it was safe to pull out the canister that held my lifeblood, the thick black water that would keep me wired for the morning sit.
“Better hold off.” I thought to myself.
Wise choice in hindsight. Moments after my internal battle for immediate gratification with the coffee I hear a rustle in the distance.
“Time for a little rattling.” I said as I grabbed the monsterous mule deer racks I use for rattling.
After a short session where I managed yet again to smash a finger, I put down the headgear and grabbed my bow.
The far off rustling steadily grew. He was beelining it for me. He wanted in on the action.
I positioned myself as best I could for the window I was hoping he would stop in.
I saw him out of the corner of my eye which immediately set my heart into overdrive.
“He’s small, he’s small. It’s not a big deal Fred, just a small little buck that you might as well shoot while you’re here.” I chanted to myself.
God I must be dumb. Somehow over the years I’ve been able to convince myself of my own lies.
He was huge.
He moved in like he was hooked and being reeled in by a market fisherman.
Just like I had planned, he stopped in the tiny window carved out of the trees at a spot I had sprayed with synthetic piss.
Blood sprayed in all directions. He made his final death sprint, thinking the further he was from the spot that caused him pain, the safer he would be.
I sat back in relief, playing the whole sequence back in my mind to burn the time. The shot was right where I requested it to be, but out of respect for his will to live, I gave him time.
A half hour later a climbed out of my stand and walked towards the scene of the incident.
It was a murder scene.
I followed the blood, trying not to slip on it.
Fifty yards later I came to a barbed-wire fence. The one direction I prayed that he would not go and he did.
“You’ve got to be kidding me. Of all the places you could have run…” I muttered to myself as I looked over the fence to what might as well have been North Korea.
No problem, hop on your OnX map, find the landowner’s name, call him up, recover the animal, take pics of your accomplishment.
Simple enough strategy in my mind at least.
Several hours later after attempting to call the owner, going to visit his house, talking to the local game warden and finally talking with the sheriff to see if they could get a hold of the guy I was sitting dumbfounded in my truck.
It would be like the a toddler kicking a beach ball into the neighbor’s yard by mistake then the neighbor refusing to let him retrieve it. Oh and then stabbing the ball with his pocket knife and taking a dump on it (maybe I got a little carried away there).
I was heartbroken. How could I have been so dumb. I knew you were walking a fine line by playing so close to private property and I got burned. Worst of all I knew that there was going to be a rotting carcass lying on the other side of that fence that I had caused.
Hunting isn’t clean. Hunting isn’t always pretty. Hunting can be heartbreaking.