A really good year

Then, archery season at home opened and I had two fat does in the freezer by the first of the next week. I had to be at White Oak Plantation for the annual Does and Bows hunt. We had 22-women coming from all over the country to bow hunt the deer rich plantation. I would go early and set a few stands for the visiting writers. I would also get to hunt a little on my own.

I spent a day walking the swamp and looking for sign of buck activity. I found fresh rubs excessively early for that time of year but you go with what you have. I found a travel trail and hung a stand just for me.

It was an unusually cool morning for mid-October. A jacket felt good. I settled into the stand just as it got grey light. A few minutes later, I caught motion out of the corner of my eye. The motion became a medium buck with a tight rack. As with the an-telope, the 34-yard shot was perfect. Hundreds of practice arrows paid off. I hoped the women could do as well.

The wind rustled the few corn stalks still standing. The sun rose over Nebraska and a flock of snow geese rose with it. A coon came waddling by and a Pileated woodpecker went nuts. He came shuffling along, sniffing here and there looking for doe sign. He never knew I was there when the 125-grain Thunderhead slid behind his shoulder. The year was just starting.

I was healthy that year, that great year. I was strong and in shape, hanging as many as 50 stands helped keep me that way.

Here and there, I killed a doe or three for camp meat. By the time the rut started here, I still had not missed a shot. I still had a few days of bow season left.

I had seen him earlier in the season but had no shot. Not a big buck but a good one for my little patch off Horn Springs Road in Lebanon. I had a feeling he might come to some light rattling from the thicket.

There was light frost on the rails of the ladder stand when I sat down. From here, I could see the trail into the thicket and the surrounding grown fields.

At dawn, I clacked the rattling antlers lightly-waited-clacked again. I saw him jump the fence 150-yards from me. At 130-yards, I knew he was coming. At 37-yards, he stopped to challenge me. Mistake. Practice pays off.

I finished that year with a perfect score. I did not miss a shot. I did not shoot what many might consider a trophy but as far as I was concerned, everything I killed was a trophy. It was a really great year, 10-years ago. I hope you and I both have one this year.

Might not hurt to go practice, bow season opens in 10-days.

Contact JOHN L. SLOAN / bowriter1944john@aol.com