This past Saturday was the final day of flintlock hunting for whitetails in Wildlife Management Unit 5C. In the morning there was 6 inches of fresh snow covering the ground that had fallen through the night. Cleaning off the driveway and walks came before any hunting.
By noon time, all snow-related tasks were finished. I then called a friend I had spoken with the night before about performing a couple of quick and short deer drives to me. It was on.
I met him at his house where we waited for his brother – who is currently suffering through rib injuries – and who is another friend. This brother would drop-off the deer-driving brother at a spot to begin the push after I was on stand.
While heading to the first stand I jumped some deer from their beds. The woods were relatively quiet, enough so that the deer only ran a short distance. A large doe stood at 60 yards, but she was in heavy brush. I didn’t even consider a shot.
Within seconds they all bolted, six of them.
Five minutes later I was on stand at the other end of the patch my friend would come through. He reached me and said four deer had escaped by leaving the thick woods to another small patch from the side. I never saw them.
I circled back to where I entered this connection of small woodlots filled with thickets of briar and brush. My friend waited a few minutes, and then began to follow the tracks in the hope he might push those four in my direction. They, too, escaped by a different path.
One last, very small, sector of woods was on the short list of hunting spots we would visit. On one end of this woodlot sit’s a sizable covering of hemlock and other pines. A good bedding area for sure.
I drove my truck to one end of this relatively small piece of woods and walked a short distance to a rock outcropping where the deer would pass if they came in that direction. A few minutes later the brother in his truck dropped off the walking brother. Within a short time the brother walking came through the woods. I saw no deer.
But the brothers combined to see 10 more. Four made their way through a section I could not see, but the brother in the woods could. The other six went by the injured brother as he sat in his truck along a dirt road waiting for us to finish.
Twenty deer with very little walking, yet not a shot fired.
And so ended my deer-hunting year, without my releasing an arrow or pulling a trigger even once.
But that’s okay. I saw deer throughout the different seasons, and on this last snowy day, I knew there were a good number in two small places that were educated enough to be exceptionally elusive.
Now they will be free of human hunters until next fall, when once again they will use their intangible abilities to avoid the people that hunt them. That thought always brings a smile to my face.