Outdoors Column: Monarch of the Woods

Since the rut has been on, I have seen more bucks, and big bucks, than ever before in my entire life. They are not just at my place but seem to be everywhere. The deer population must be up and the hunting pressure down. From lying in roadside ditches to strolling through town, deer can be seen just about anywhere. Having this many deer around does have its drawbacks, even for a hunter. With only one tag to fill, a person can become very choosy, perhaps too choosy.

 

Last weekend, the morning was cool, calm, and crisp. I was watching one of my favorite hunting spots as the sun rose. Frost was on the ground which muffled the sounds of deer moving through the timber. Where nothing stood would suddenly appear a deer as if by magic. Without a sound, they could blend into their surroundings and disappear as quickly as they appeared.

 

 

I was watching two does with three of last year’s fawns as they browsed just at the edge of the timber. They heard something I had not seen, and all turned to look behind them. I followed their gaze to see a large buck a short distance away. Most people would have attempted to take him home as he was a beauty, but something made me wait. He was panting and hot. He had hair missing from his one shoulder and a fresh wound on his back. He looked like he had just come from a fight and had lost. He was a large powerful animal with an impressive set of antlers. If he had lost a fight for control of this section of woods, I wanted to see what beat him. That buck had to be a real trophy.

 

For the next couple of hours, deer came and went. It seemed there were as many bucks as does taking this well-traveled path. The does ranged in size from small, going into their first breeding season to big old does, fattened up for the upcoming winter. Likewise, there were all sizes of bucks. A small four-point passed by several times, looking as though he was trying to stay out of the way and out of sight of the older deer that were looking for a fight. Several medium sized and big deer checked the trail, noses to the ground, looking for does in heat.

 

            

I finally headed back to the house as cold was soaking in, all the way to my bones. It is difficult to dress appropriately. If a person has light enough clothing to keep cool while walking, they will freeze to death when they stop and stand perfectly still for a few hours. If they dress warm enough to stand still, walking will work up a sweat, which really makes a person cold when they stop. It was a fun time, watching the interactions of the deer, but I had had enough. I never did see the big buck that won the fight. He probably headed deep into the woods with a doe or two. When you are the monarch of the woods, you can go and do whatever you choose.