By Steve Schafer
Rain poured from the heavens the night before until well after midnight, but I knew the woods would be quiet and fresh at first light.
At 6 a.m., the stars dotted the sky as the orange hue to the east began to usher in the impending sunrise. I slowly eased into the woods, without the aid of a flashlight, and, as I have for many years, followed the trail to my chosen spot for the morning hunt.
Birds chirped their various serenades, and squirrels went about their business of gathering food to eat, and to store, for the not too distant winter months.
Peering through the forest, movement to my right drew my attention. Four whitetail does were easing through the woods, slowly browsing the forest floor as they meandered towards their eventual bedding area for the day. I eased into position as they approached, hoping their route would place them within my comfort zone for a shot.
However, it was not to be. They paused to munch a few acorns, just beyond 30 yards, which is my self-imposed distance limit with archery tackle. The does continued to browse as they traveled along the small ravine and eventually circled behind my position to a point where, though closer, my view was substantially obstructed and no shot was available.
It seemed the deer would surely catch my scent if they continued to quarter the wind … and they did not disappoint. The largest doe raised her muzzle to sniff the air and immediately began to snort and stomped her front hooves. Moments later, with tails swollen and erect, all four deer bolted away from the danger of my scent.
Was I disappointed? Not really. The season is young, and I have tempered my need for a successful hunt to encompass a much greater need.
I have reached the point in my hunting career where just being in the deer woods, matching wits with this magnificent animal, is in and of itself very satisfying.
Don't get me wrong, if a wide-antlered monarch presents himself, I still get that adrenaline rush and that predatory urge which addicts every hunter.
Over the years, I've been blessed with many very successful hunts. However, this particular hunt would serve as just another act in an ongoing production. I am merely a bit player in a play with many actors. The scenes and episodes continue to weave the plot, and the true star of the odyssey will always be the whitetail deer.
The knowledge you garner while pursuing the whitetail deer will both enlighten and confuse you. Your ability to adapt to his environment, his traits and habits, will bring an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.
I intend to have many more encounters with the whitetail deer this season. Not because he needs me, but because I need him.
Whitetail Deer Bow Season 2006-07
Oct. 23 - Nov. 24
Dec. 11 - Dec. 15
Jan. 1 - Jan. 4
Jan. 8 - Jan. 31
Two antlerless deer must be taken before a second antlered deer can be taken.
A bonus Antlered Deer Stamp is required to take a second antlered deer.
Total Bag Limit
*Unlimited antlerless in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George's Counties.
Issue 1.30: November 16, 2006