I lock up in mid step. Just that third of a leg movement changed the view in front of me. It wasn’t like I didn’t stare holes through the balsam stand in front of me before moving either. I checked individual tree trunks one at a time. I knelt down slow. I peaked around, nothing. I stood back up so slow it felt like I was a shadow moving across the landscape at exactly noon. I scoured the pine needle floor for any hair out of place. Nothing, nowhere, so I thought I’d sneak back out. Then in mid stride, hair walked into part of the picture, stopped, and a deer nose was pointed at the ground.
All that tawny brown hair was underneath eight shards of antler I was lusting over the past eleven days. His nose went down to within eight inches of the ground, and then he froze. I saw antler tips and one deer nose pose I wont soon forget. My foot, that I had raised in anticipation of one soft fruitless booted step, and as we all know everything that goes up, must come down, wanted down, and it was being told so by a tight crabby calf muscle.
These new super light weight 220 gram insulted sound proof super pieces of foot gear suddenly felt like moon boots completely under every inch of gravities earthly forces. So I set my tread in the needles as if it was yet another pine needle falling, and the buck’s nose still didn’t move. He new something had been nosing around in his bedroom, he just didn’t know it was little ol’ me.
The faintest breeze wasn’t and didn’t send him my scent but his two other senses wanted reassurance before he lay down in the finger nail shaped glade. A breeze gently wafts, No nose movement. Then I looked at his antlers again. Right there, both my legs starting vibrating for a different reason.
First his antlers, then his nose goes slowly up. I can still see a lot of three of his four legs the way he is positioned. I can’t see through the branches but I’d bet a month’s worth of minnow money his ears are radiating and that super sniffer is working over time. He has to be blinking at least one of those big eyes in this day’s sunshine.
With his head up, I kneel down. In the same drop the body motion I raise the bow. It takes just a second to find his boiler room squared off and edged by a balsam trunk. The buck’s darker brisket hair starts to twist as I click the release.
Yellow fletching becomes barely a dot searing underneath the darkness of the pine tree branches and is consumed by the richest of color in the hue of brown. I exhale so hard I wiggle a small dried bent frond in front of me on the ground.
I sat for half hour knowing that buck was mine. It took me another fifteen minutes of very easy tracking to find him. He was laid long, maybe two thirds of the way down the slope. Antler tips polished, pointing up, he looked perfect. He wasn’t crumpled, hunched or piled up against a tree. He died, and died with His nose still pointed down. The trout whisperer