By Wm. E. Allendorf
Opening weekend of 2003 was one of those times when it seemed nothing could go wrong. Brendanís hunt began with still hunting up on Gobblerís Knob and working down into Willow Creek. On the way down, we nearly got a doe that had come to drink at the stream. We found a huge scrape at the bottom of the hill. After banging around Tinkerbell Wood for a while, we headed back to the house, changed clothes and took off for the SchieŖhaus. We arrived about 3PM and settled in for the wait. At sunset, I told Brendan, "This is it. Watch out."
Looking back at the farmhouse at sunset, I was suddenly taken by the enormity of the changes in our life these past two years. Our lives now center around the farm. For me, the center of my world is Dorfís Thoughtful Spot, overlooking the Hundred Acre Wood. Weíve taken a wreck of a house unoccupied for 20 years and turned it into a vibrant household. There it all was looking back at us in the sunset, a whole new life.
"Dad!!! Itís a deer!"
You know, Angie keeps saying that Brendan must be genetically just mineóhe has inherited very little from her. Physically, heís my clone. Temperment and tastes are identical. Well folks, Iím here to tell you that at least one gene slipped in. There we were back in í97 on a moose watching adventure in Canada. Two days out from the nearest bit of civilization, two hours canoeing from our camp and Angie spied a pair of moose watering some 600 yards away.
"Bill!!! Itís a moose!" echoed out over the still waters of that dawn. The moose were gone in a flash. Some things never change.
Well, some things change. In this case, the little buck stayed around a little bit, eyeing us, as he nibbled around. Soon another doe came in, then another, then I heard noises coming from the back of the blind, and I knew we were surrounded. After bagging one monster on Saturday, the last thing I needed in life was another dead deer. I couldnít shoot a buck. It would have to be a doe, and I made sure that it was going to be nothing less than a perfect shot.
"No, son," I said. "That one is in the tall grass. The shot will deflect."
"No. We canít shoot the buck. I donít have the right tag left."
"No. That oneís too small. That oneís too . . ."
"Dad!" he yelled again." Look!"
"There was another nice buck coming by. As my eyes followed him, a doe turned and stared at us. The buck trotted off. The doe kept watching.
"Any second," I whispered, sheíll turn and run.
"No, sheís giving me only a brisket shot. I donít want to shoot her in the brisket."
With that, the deer turned an presented a perfect broadside, put her one leg slightly forward and dropped her head into the grass and began to graze. I was without excuse.
"Okay. Here goes."
The blast sent deer flying everywhere. The doe was struck in the heart and fell dead. Several other does fled. A chocolate colored buck with a nice rack suddenly appeared and leaped back and forth around the dead doe before fleeing.
"Wow!" I said. "That must have been his girlfriend."
We waited a while before calling Angie for a pickup with the truck. I wanted the deer to all get away before the vehicle came in. That way they might be a bit less spooked and we might still get some action from the blind over the next few weeks. Before it was total darkness we radioed in. Angie came out, and we locked up the blind and went to retrieve the doe. The buck had stayed in the brush less than thirty yards away from the carcass. He snorted and thundered off when the truck pulled up.
The moon was still nearly full as we pulled out onto the highway, driving to Brooksville to drop off the deer, I turned to Brendan and said. "You know, thatís kind of your deer."
"Yeah," I said. " I sure didnít need another one this weekend, but we just couldnít pass that one up. It seems like youíre not only a good hunting buddy, but youíre a lucky one too. We were just meant to have that doe."
"Iím pretty handy to have around." Said the strange confident voice beside me. I knew then my son had grown.
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