Surrounded by bucks Saturday morning, I wanted only to find a doe, convoluted as that thinking might be.
I had been assigned by a landowner friend to help him thin the whitetail herd that makes a mockery of his attempts to grow flowering plants, vegetables or, really, just about anything.
Better, we figured, to attempt this by taking out does first, if possible, rather than bucks.
So, rather than head north to christen the 2019 firearms deer season, when the sun rose Saturday morning against a clear sky, amid a barely perceptible northwesterly breeze, I was perched in a tree on a 100-acre tract in the north metro.
Within a half-hour of legal shooting time, I spotted my first visitor, a buck fawn walking directly toward my stand, along a tree line. Another fawn soon appeared, then a doe and another doe, each half-hidden by oaks and looking nervously into the adjacent woods.
Soon enough, the subject of their interest stepped into the open, a respectable 8-point buck that sidled alongside my stand, not 15 yards distant. Clueless as to my whereabouts, though he had appeared from downwind, the buck made a halfback-like juke of the first fawn and darted toward one doe, then the other.
Which was when a second buck, a 4-pointer, ratcheted up the morning’s entertainment value with his appearance. Deer hunting doesn’t usually unfold this way for me, I thought, and for a long moment I forgot even that I cradled a 12-gauge slug gun on my lap. But no matter. While the bucks stood broadside to me, still as statues, the does offered no targets whatsoever.
Meanwhile, my pal John Weyrauch was west of me in a Taj Mahal-like stand that featured everything but Wi-Fi. Further west still, two more of our gang were scattered in trees of their own. Each wanted to notch a buck on opening day but had no bucks near them. Only I did.
Eventually my visitors went their various ways, leaving me to listen to dogs barking in the distance while watching geese fly overhead. Also I contemplated just why I hadn’t brought a Thermos of coffee with me. This was when a grander buck still stepped from the woods to my left, again at about 15 or 18 yards.
Sizing this guy up as a possible 10-pointer, with a weirdo G3 or G4 tine on his right side, I thought: In the old days, this big boy would have been worthy of a parade up and down Main Street with the tailgate down.
But here, too, I held my fire, intent as I was to find a doe. Or, absent that, to simply enjoy the exquisite morning.
Then, well . . .then I saw it, as outdoors writers often exclaim. A doe, alone, in the woods behind my stand, tiptoeing toward an opening perhaps 30 yards away.
The shotgun I was using has a scope, and when the doe stepped into the opening, I clicked off the safety and within a few seconds found her fore shoulder with the cross hairs. Squeezing the trigger, I rocketed a 1-ounce slug toward its fateful end, interrupting the morning’s peaceful ambience with an explosion of gunpowder.
Later Saturday, John also took a doe, a good end to a good first day.