This morning I'd bet a months worth of live bait that whitetail bucks will start itching the velvet off those new antlers. To me there is no way they started yesterday. This morning I was roused from my sleep by a wind blowing in my bedroom window at 3:31 am. It was cool and refreshing. The temp demanded my down comforter. I obliged, but not for long.

I went outside and the moon was full, and the air crisp. My American flag flapped full, illuminated by my yard light, and showed a steady wind directly out of the north. My yard was wind washed free of the sticky humidity, and September by the calendar is but days away.

The air, early morning or just the final end to hot humid air I can't explain, it I feel a bit antsy. My cigar smoke is swept into the dark and the ash glows red. One deep drought of cigar smoke is a cerebral shot of endorphins. I turn, and gaze out my driveway.

The red doe's of summer have been all over the roads at night with at least one spotted fawn, some with twins. Every coffee pot I hunker next to guys are chatting about the groups of bachelor bucks we've been seeing. Its time, and we all sense it, and know it. I wager some ancient bucks know full well were coming and they horn thrust all the harder.

The pull, draw or want deepens in me this morning. Last Saturday I saw a big track when I skidded out some future firewood but it was more a mental note to me, than a significant find. It was hot and humid and I was tired. Today seeing that same track I would cut a tracking stick and try to follow that sharp hoofed rascal, or at least try.

The thoughts of taking a deer, big buck, little buck, doe, have lain dormant for months. There has been gentle mental musings and every once in awhile some hunting friend would mention a thick horned, velvet monster seen or some found antler shed of a promised stag from last fall that has to be larger this season to await us all. Verbal Snacks to tide us over. The full meal deal, is still ahead.

Bow hunters, of which I consider myself semi-retired will clip shooting lanes and stuff long darts into hay bales in anticipation. Sporting goods store owners will tempt and tease me with concoctions of potency and the newest blaze orange super suits. Were pawing, and rubbing itchy antlers in our own way.

Looking into the early morning sky I wonder where he is walking or feeding. Stars above, where is the great hunter Orion this morning? Send me some luck you celestial night stalker. Could that big buck be feeding on my spilled bird seed right now in the darkness? Boy I hope he's a fat gray nosed ten pointer. Maybe it will be one of those of those pine pitched dark racks from some old swamp buck. Hunches played in my mind.

There is a newer game of poker, the name escapes me it's all the rage. But the phrase when your hand is gonna make or break you, your final option is to make the statement "I'm all in". I just pushed my cool morning air to the middle of life's great outdoor poker table. So to this falls deer season, I see your bet Mr. Whitetail deer of a summer's full of imagination, and I am all in, and betting heavily on me.

Trout Whisperer