Editors Blog

Addicted to the Hunt

It’s super foggy this morning, and the rain just started about an hour ago. The November winds are blowing, but we’ll be sheltered from the sting as long as we hunker low in this oak blow-down.

It’s the perfect all-natural ground blind for bow-hunting the edge of this creek bottom. There’s good cover and plenty of reasons to thank God for this dreary day smack in the middle of the whitetail rut.

The reasons all start and end with stimuli. In compiling the list, we could begin by noting the aromatic bouquet that’s hovering over us on this ultra-humid day. We’ll never know the precise recipe, but we can easily pinpoint the ingredients. There’s goldenrod, birch leaves and rotting oak bark. There are also hints of pine, alder, black cherry and creek muck.  

Inhale deeply. Let it fill your lungs. It’s sweet. And crisp. And dank.

It’s intoxicating.

Yes, the sights, sounds and smells are what ratchet up the deer hunting experience. However, the deer are, after all, the stars of the show. And that’s why we become unglued at their mere presence.

It’s the instant you realize that sapling in the brush-choked creek bottom is actually a deer’s leg; that branch is really an antler; that flitting bird is actually a twitching ear. Everything changes when the ambient becomes the very thing you’re seeking. The therapeutic becomes the stressor. And the warm and fuzzy feelings are transfused with pure adrenaline.

That hormonal surge is about to happen, because a mature doe is seconds away from stepping out of the fog and into our creek-side view. We don’t know it yet, but this fix is going to be a double dose. That branch in the shadows is not waving because it’s windy. A buck is working it. He’s not one for the record books, but that’s OK because that’s not why we’re here. We’re here for the show, and it’s about to get started.

The buck will grunt once, then lower his head and bird-dog that doe in a semicircle until he stops, broadside, within easy bow range of our setup.

We might get the shot off, or we might not. Either way, our nerves will be ruined for the rest of morning. Later that day, and that week, we’ll continue to relive these moments with nervous energy and excited voices while talking with any family member, friend or coworker who’ll care to listen. Most will care because they, too, live the deer hunting lifestyle.

Sigh of relief. I’m not sure what it is about deer hunting, but I do know this: The sum of its parts produce cravings so intense they make it easy to forego sleep and withstand wicked cold temperatures to satisfy them for another year.


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This column appeared in the March 2009 issue of Deer & Deer Hunting. To read more from the current issue,