by admin | November 8, 2013 6:46 am
The opening of deer season reminded me of the first time I never shot a deer. We were living in the mid-1980s on six acres off El Camino Real — the King’s Highway — outside San Augustine in Deep East Texas, where I published The Rambler newspaper.
I had leased an additional 50 acres on which I ran a few cows. Mainly the cows ran me ragged, since they had an annoying habit of rambling through the woods, busting through the decrepit barbed-wired fence and ending up on the highway about a half-mile away. The sheriff would call and let me know my cows were loose again. I would call a local cowboy to round them up and bring them back to the pen.
Eventually I tired of this foolishness and sold them for a loss at auction. This was the first of several failed forays into the cow business. My Beautiful Mystery Companion someday wants to live in the country and have critters, including cows. I intend to hold the line at possibly one Longhorn steer, and maybe an old heifer to keep him company, but that’s it. A pair of cows as pets will be my limit, and I want them to be slow-moving and addicted to range cubes so they will come when called.
Anyway to get back to the story at hand, my little brother Gregg wanted to go deer hunting. I had seen deer on many occasions on the 50 acres, so sometime around Thanksgiving I agreed to take him hunting. I bought a license and borrowed a rifle from a buddy. Being a former Marine, he came equipped with an arsenal and the requisite camouflage. He might even have been wearing deer urine scent. I don’t recall. Probably not. He likely just didn’t bathe the night before.
We got up at dawn and traipsed out to the pastures, each taking a spot where we could safely fire at any buck that crossed our path without shooting each other. My enthusiasm, admittedly, for killing a deer was quite low — not out of any moral compunction but because I didn’t want to mess with gutting it, cleaning it, dragging the carcass home, taking it to the processor, etc. Venison fixed right can be tasty, but I prefer my meat wrapped in cellophane with a price tag. But I decided that if I got a clear shot at a nice-looking buck I would take it for bragging rights, if nothing else.
I sat with my back against a tree and waited. I thought about the only one other time I had gone hunting for squirrel, about five years earlier. A pressman from the Nacogdoches paper where I worked at the time talked me into it. I quickly realized that I would starve to death if it came down to me relying on my marksmanship skills at killing those overgrown rats for sustenance. I wasted several .410 shells and never did even wing one. I could have sworn the little buggers were sticking their tongues out at me as they raced along the branches above. The only reason I was even trying to shoot one was my buddy promised his wife would clean and cook them if we killed any. He didn’t shoot any either. Seems like we stopped at McDonald’s on the way back into town and each got a Big Mac as a consolation prize.
I looked up from my reverie. There in sight was a buck, maybe 75 yards away. I lifted my rifle and aimed. It was going to be an easy shot. He was looking the other way. He was no trophy but respectable enough. I thought about it for a few seconds, then lowered the rifle and coughed on purpose. The buck heard the sound, looked my way and took off into the brush. I was relieved to keep my record intact of not having shot a living creature. Who needs the aggravation?
In the years since, I have gone dove hunting a couple times and made half-hearted attempts to shoot birds, but they are perfectly safe from me. I would have no problem killing wild hogs, since they are tearing up the land and are pests that need exterminating. But I leave hunting to those with stronger stomachs for it, though I’m happy to partake of the bounty. As I said, it’s not a moral compunction, just a preference.
Put a camera with a long lens in my hands, and I’ll shoot deer and other wildlife all day long. That’s my preferred way of stalking creatures.
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