Last week I wrote about a squirrel encounter that I had while bow hunting for deer. I know that there have to be some readers of this column anxiously awaiting a report of some kind of deer adventure for this fall. In reality, I just might have this delusion that there are many if any of you out there with that thought. At least in my mind, there are people "out there" wanting a report. Humor me.
The afternoon was breezy. Very breezy. The wind was out of the west. I got to watch a number of deer from my tree-stand perch in the Silver Maple tree. The evening was closing in quickly. Iowa bow hunters can hunt until one half hour after sunset. Then I got a call. I turn my cell phone to vibrate when I head for the tree so I felt the familiar buzz happening in my pocket. I checked it after a minute and saw that the caller had left a message. I slipped the phone to my ear and listened to the message. I decided I had better crawl down from the tree and end my hunt a bit earlier than usual so that I could answer the call.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I should back up just a bit and mention that just prior to receiving the call, I had rattled. Rattling is the attempt to make the sound of two bucks sparring with their antlers. During the rut, when two bucks of very similar size and caliber have located a doe, they fight for her like two medieval knights would fight for the attention of the fair damsel.
Well, I had made my best effort at making this sound. I have had some success in the past attracting the attention of passing bucks by rattling. The success is based upon things like the correct timing and circumstances. It in no way is a given that anything is going to show up.
I lowered the bow to the ground on the haul rope. I unclipped my safety belt and slipped to the ground, as well. That's when I heard something. I turned to see the form of a big buck silhouetted against the waning rays of the setting sun. He was thirty yards out and looking straight in my direction.
I slowly turned back around and reached to unclip the bow from the string. I dropped to one knee and then searched the brush in front of me to see if the mighty deer was still there or if instead it was hightailing it away from me. To my delight he began raking the dead brush nearby. He was making an awful racket in an effort to alert the two bucks he thought were fighting somewhere nearby. Then, he came in my direction! At about twenty yards he stopped and began pawing the ground like a bull. First two swipes with one front leg and then two swipes with the other.
Back and forth he did this. This was another attempt to show his dominance and draw the other deer out of hiding. I could not find a spot in the thick stuff in front of me for a shot.
Now, the buck started east. He was swinging downwind of the tree to let his nose help him in locating the two deer doing battle, or perhaps it was to locate the doe that he believed was nearby and craftily steal her away. During the rut, all is fair in love and war.
I see that I am way over my 500 words for the column. The rest of the story will have to be continued next week!