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Pulling the trigger

BY DAN GEDDINGS
Outdoor columnist
Posted 11/15/19
The shadows had combined, and darkness was settling into the woods. I was ready to get down from the stand, but something caught my attention out front. It looked like a couple of raccoons at the corn, and I could see something else now. It looked …

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Pulling the trigger

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The shadows had combined, and darkness was settling into the woods. I was ready to get down from the stand, but something caught my attention out front. It looked like a couple of raccoons at the corn, and I could see something else now. It looked like a deer.

The binoculars showed me that it was a deer, and when it put its head down, I could see that it was a buck. A good buck. It looked like a typical eight-pointer.

The binoculars and the rifle scope pick up more light than our eyes and are invaluable in low-light conditions, like twilight. I put the binoculars down and picked up my rifle. I could clearly see the buck in the crosshairs of the scope but hesitated.

The wind was good, with a soft breeze in my face, and I knew the buck couldn't scent my presence. He was facing me, and I wanted to get a better look. Eventually he turned broadside, and I could see from his slender build that he was a young buck. I decided to pass on him. I didn't need to pull the trigger.

The next morning my son Clayton and I were headed back to the club. It was still dark, but I pointed to the east and said, "Look over there." An orange-and-pink glow was spread above the distant horizon. Soon we turned into the faint woodland road and stopped at the access gate to sign in.

Just down the road, I let Clayton out near one of my stands, and I drove on down the logging road to another stand that belongs to a friend. When I parked and started the short walk to the stand, I realized that the day was coming quickly. It was cold, and the brisk uphill walk helped to warm me.

At the stand I climbed up, pulled my rifle up and took out my little wind checker. The forecast had been for a southwest wind, but the fine white powder drifted to my front toward the food plot I was looking over. That indicated a northeast wind. Not good for this location. I waited a few minutes and checked again. Same result.

I figured the wind would be OK at the stand where Clayton was sitting, as a southwest or northeast wind would be a crossing wind for the direction he would be looking. I texted him to see if he was OK with the wind, and he answered, "It's good."

Any deer that approached the food plot from my left or right would not wind me until they were straight out front, so I just hunkered down and waited to see if anything would show up. Daylight came quickly, but there must have been some low clouds or haze in the east, as no bright shafts of sunlight slanted down through the surrounding timber.

As the light increased, the birds began to call in the woods around me, and crows called in the distance. Some heavy machinery started up across the big swamp behind me. It was a logging crew on an adjoining property. They were getting an early start. Then to my utter surprise, a turkey shock gobbled at the edge of the swamp somewhere between Clayton and me. I could hear hens yelping.

Turkeys will gobble some throughout the winter, but it's not common. I think these turkeys were voicing their displeasure at hearing the loud and intrusive machinery operating so near their normally quiet winter haven.

The bad wind and the noisy logging operation strained my patience, but I toughed it out for a while. Clayton texted me that the turkeys had headed in his direction and increased their calling. He could track their passage through the woods by the gobbling and yelping.

It didn't look like I was going to see anything at the food plot, so I got down and took the long way back to the truck. There is a seldom-used road that loops around the bottom of the hill at the edge of the big swamp. I took that road. There were some good signs along the road, and it might be a good spot for another stand. At the truck, I texted Clayton that I was headed his way.

We didn't see a deer that morning, but we heard some turkeys, saw a good sunrise and spent some time together. It was a good hunt, and we didn't even need to pull a trigger.

Reach Dan Geddings at cdgeddings@gmail.com.