I showed up at a friend's place on Friday night and got a few hours of sleep. He was kindly hosting and we were looking at getting up at 5am to try to beat the deer to the area. He put me up in a tree stand and I spent a couple of hours staring into the dark, trying to get my mind to quiet down. He went a little way down the property so I was on my own.
One thing about hunting is you realize how loud everything you do is. The wrappers from my Powerbars were like a roaring housefire. Every time I shifted, I was sure I might as well have dropped a tray of dishes. Of course, every squirrel and bird for a mile was in my ears as well, but I wasn't worried about them scaring off the deer.
Wearing a t-shirt, a long sleeved t-shirt, a thermal, a hoodie, and a blaze orange vest with matching hat, and I was still freezing. By the time it was full light, I was half convinced all the deer had gone on vacation. I began to wonder why exactly I had wanted to do this.
That was when the doe showed up.
She was pot bellied and had nary a care to give as she stood about ten feet from the end of my field of fire. I raised my rifle, didn't feel like I had a good bead on her, and suddenly had to contend with the hundred or so questions in my brain: is it okay to shoot, is it okay in this county to shoot does, what's past the critter?
The doe paused an looked in my direction. I should have been okay to take the shot, but I didn't feel sure. Plus, I suddenly felt giddy. It was a weird high. The combination of hesitation and surprise brain drugs led me to not take the shot at all, though, and thus I am not a mighty hunter this year.
Still glad I went. Just next time, I need to double check the rules and give myself permission to do what I came to do.
I won't forget this one, though.