Sense And Sensitivity

On The Back Page With Daryl Gay - May 2020

Daryl Gay | April 29, 2020

Deer ain’t got no sense.

Don’t look so stunned; sure, it’s unusual to be slammed with such a profound statement right out of the gate. But we’ll get past it. Hang in there.

And if you just flipped back to the magazine cover to check, yes, this is May and not October. Tough, ain’t it? Whitetail season has been over mebbe a dozen weeks, 11 of which have seen me battling delirium tremens while waiting for 2020 opening day.

Only a couple more to go, right?

Man, you don’t even know how much I wish I could love a turkey. Or a turkey hunt.

I hear all the stories: “If you ever call one up while he’s a’hollerin’ his head off, you’ll be hooked for life…”

Well, I have. And I ain’t.

Sure, I still pile out afore daylight and drive down to a spot or two where we’ve run into each other in the past.

While deer hunting.

The most vivid recollection is making like a stump with a big—he looked big to me—gobbler about 3 inches out of reach. Literally.

He had come from behind and stopped about 39 inches to my left.  My first thought—quickly dismissed—was to reach out and grab him. But I have been bit before.

From what I understand, turkeys ain’t much on teeth, but they make up for that shortcoming by spurring various and sundry holes throughout one’s anatomy should one be so foolish to grab first and hop, screech, bleed and shoot later.

I’m pleased to tell you that he wandered on past, never realizing I wasn’t oak. And I didn’t have the heart…

But let’s get back to senseless deer.

Yeah, yeah, yeah… so I seem to be disparaging the most intellectual species ever to incessantly outwit a hunter, right? Naw, it’s just that I’ve seen a coupla real dimwits among the elite over the years. That’s 45 years in case you’re counting. And waiting on 46 is driving me berserk, so I’ve kinda rehashed last season.

Roughly eleventyfour times.

For starters, let’s look at a pair of prone provocations…

I’m flat on my belly—and if you have to ask why you need to still-hunt more—watching a young buck run an old doe through a creek bottom. He’s got zigging down pretty good, but when she suddenly zags, he’s left in the dust.

Trust me, there are few things goofier than a little loverboy who just blew his big chance. So, what now?

Well, he ambles about 40 feet past me and the sulking ought six while I’m rolling around trying to see VIDEO on the stupid phone without my Dollar General glasses!

OK, OK, we got it…

So he walks out of the bottom, into wide-open spaces and brilliant sunshine… and starts pawing out a scrape. (If ya can’t hem ’em up in the trees, try ’em out in the open…)

Never knowing he’s starring in his first film, the youngster ambles on over 30 yards or so toward my personal favorite tree on the planet. (I was getting around to it myself, hunting my way in…)

Suddenly, he locks down. Ever seen a pointer in mid-leap come down and freeze on a covey he didn’t know was there? That’s the look.

I’m thinking maybe he’s spotted a timber wolf or grizzly; dude appeared absolutely petrified.

Me? I’m still belly-down, left arm up in the air like a lightning rod, phone filming to beat the band. One’s vista is severely limited under such conditions, but I ain’t taking no griz attack laying down, as it were. Rolling up and hefting the rifle, I catch a glimpse of movement in a narrow trail through the trees beyond where buster boy is pointed. My mind’s eye tells me that the split-second shot it took recorded very probably the biggest buck I’ve ever seen on this place.

He didn’t bolt; I don’t think he knew just what he had seen, either. I simply sat frozen. Which can’t be said for our would-be beau.

Realizing he was about to get antlered into furry oatmeal for trespassing, he suddenly remembered an appointment.

In New Zealand.

After another frozen minute or so, there came glimpses of the big buck easing back through the trees. I wasn’t giving him the satisfaction of figuring out what I was and he wasn’t giving me a sure kill shot. But I’m going to tell you how this will end…

Many years ago, 50 miles from this spot, I was lying flat on my back in a pasture at the base of a single, massive oak. Surrounding cover included only a thin line of small trees with no underbrush, a small pond at my back. Just know that I had worked this deer out for a season-plus, and this was the only way I could figure…

After 45 minutes of not exactly dozing in a recliner, there came movement off to my left, where the rifle lying across my chest was pointed. The buck eased down the treeline right on cue—but wouldn’t stop. He was going to get behind me with no shot if something didn’t happen pretty quick.

Time for the old Injun trick. I raised my right leg just high enough for him to see the wiggling boot, then lowered it.

He stopped. What was that?

Took two steps to his left, three to his right. Three to his left, six to his right. He was still looking for the boot when the gun went off.

That one and last season’s lover boy are prime examples of low-IQ freezer material. And the one that got away? Shoulda stayed hid; cause when it comes to big bucks, I ain’t got no sense.       


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