Across the dirt road and down past the power line, someone shot -- twice. I hoped it was Mickey.

I looked back at the abandoned homestead. Part of the old house foundation was visible, just at the edge of the clearing. Four maple trees, marked the spot. All the other trees were oak, hickory and cedar.

He came from the cedars.

I found the spot in the late part of bow season. The clearing was ringed with rubs. Rain and warm weather had ruined muzzleloader season.

Now, it was the Saturday before Thanksgiving -- opening day of rifle season. There had been a heavy frost overnight and it was cold enough I had heavy gloves on. I slipped the right one off and got ready.

Our 2019 rifle season opens this weekend.

You can use a centerfire rifle, muzzleloader or archery equipment.

The limit for us, here in Unit L, is three does a day and one buck, no more than two bucks for the year.

At one time, the first day of rifle season was a big deal. But after more than a month of archery and muzzleloader hunting, it is not so important.

In fact, I’m not even sure I went last year. I can’t remember.

I know I only hunted on days when the weather was right. After 44 years of opening days in Tennessee, they have kinda run together.

We have a lot of deer. In some areas, maybe too many. On the opening day of muzzleloader season, Nov. 9, I let seven different bucks walk, before I shot one. Just cause I wanted to.

But back in the mid-80’s, it wasn’t that way. I had land leased in Hickman, Williamson, Cheatham and Dickson Counties. One chunk was just over 2,000 acres.

It was in that chunk I had found the old homestead. I had seen two does at first light. Back then, does were not legal every day as they are now.

I saw a huge raccoon, and just briefly, a coyote. The coyotes were just becoming usual, back then.

Two years ago, on the opening morning of rifle season, I climbed a ridge at Beasley’s Bend. I killed two does and missed a respectable eight-point and was done by 8 AM. I can’t remember if I went last year or not.

Opening morning, many years ago, I sat in a tree overlooking the convergence of two shallow streams on some land I had leased in Hickman County.

When he jumped the first stream, I shot him…at eight yards. Fat, eight-point.

Same land the next year, it was pouring down rain. I hunkered down under a big, spreading beech tree. A doe ran by, followed by another eight-point. I dropped him in his tracks. Another opening morning. I don’t remember if I went last year.

Old with a strange rack, I had seen him three times during bow season, never got a shot.

Now, it was opening day of rifle season and quite foggy. I had almost given up. I think maybe it was 2011. He came out of the thickest part of the thicket. I had one, small opening. But it was enough. One of the heaviest bodied deer I have killed in TN. Weird antlers.

Lots of opening days. I can’t keep them all straight. I may go this Saturday, I may not. The weather will make up my mind for me. I can’t remember if I went last year, or not.

Across the clearing of the old homestead, he finally steps out. I’m shooting the custom, Parker-Hale in .308 caliber. He is only 60 yards and the crosshairs settle nicely.

Back then, I could still shoot offhand. I squeeze the trigger and he vanishes. I get down.

Maybe three jumps. That is how far he went. Nice, 3.5-year old 10-point. Wish I had taken pictures. Helps me remember opening days.

It opens for centerfire rifles this Saturday.

Might be a good idea to read all the regulations.

If you are climbing a tree, wear your FRD.

Hunt ethically and good luck.

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