In Louisiana, people generally take up deer hunting when they are quite young--about 12 years old. Both boys and girls hunt deer, and by the time they are in their mid-20s, they know what they are doing in the woods.
I am 72 and only took up deer hunting last year, so I am about 60 years behind the learning curve. Nevertheless, with the help of some brilliant tutors, I finally shot a young buck last week.
But it wasn't pretty.
Saturday afternoon, I was sitting in a blind, and a deer came out into a clearing about 50 yards from me. As my companions might say, it was shootable, but it was small, and more experienced hunters would have passed it up.
But I had been deer hunting seven or eight times without getting a deer, so I gave it my best shot with a borrowed .270 rifle.
The deer went down like a sack of potatoes. Success at last!
But then I forgot the advice my friends had given me time and time again. If you shoot a deer, don't leave the deer stand. Keep your eye on it and chamber a second bullet.
Did I do that? No, I did not. I knew my companions would want to hear from me right away because they would have heard my rifle fire. So I sent them a text message telling them I had been successful.
Then I looked up, and that deer was gone!
Five hunters converged on the site, and we looked high and low for that deer or at least a blood trail that would confirm that I had hit it. Darkness fell, and we continued looking with flashlights. I plunged into the underbrush, hoping to find it crumpled under a pine tree, but I saw neither hide nor hair of that animal.
Sunday morning, I settled into a different blind, and another deer appeared. This one was a young buck.
I aimed for its front shoulder and fired, and this deer also dropped like a sack of potatoes.
But this time, I remembered my friends' instructions. I stayed in my deer stand, I chambered a second bullet, and I DIDN'T TAKE MY EYES OFF OF IT.
And guess what? The little rascal got up, looking as healthy as the day he was born.
So I fired again. This time the deer went down like two sacks of potatoes.
I sat in my blind and waited for more than half an hour. Later, when I examined it with my friend Emil, we could see that it was dead. Not merely dead but really and sincerely dead.
So--I thought--this deer must have two bullet holes in him. After all, I had shot it twice.
But I could only find one bullet hole, which was about 8 inches to the right of where I aimed.
What the hell? Did I miss it the first time? If so, why did it fall like a sack of potatoes? Had I scared him? Was he messing with me?
Perhaps this deer's friend--the one I had shot at on Saturday--told him that if a particular elderly hunter fired at him, he should play possum until the hunter started texting on his cell phone. He could then sneak off and meet his pals for drinks at the Port au Prince Restaurant.
I don't have an answer. My friends assure me there are two bullet holes in that deer that are so close together that they are hard to distinguish. But I am skeptical.
After all, no one ever compared me to Annie Oakley.
|"I knew Annie Oakley, and you sir, are no Annie Oakley."|