Sunday, November 10, 2013

An unintended result

I had intended to hunt the ridge above the lake on the opening morning of deer season. A line of scrapes had led me to think that there might be some action up high, where the view is good. The weather did not cooperate however, bringing hard and gusting winds from the northwest, exactly the wrong direction for any chance of concealment along that narrow spine of land. So I sat instead under a low hill about a mile east of the ridge, jack pine and aspen clunking and cracking in the cold morning wind. A doe and her fawn briefly showed on the trail, but soon disappeared before any chance for a shot was presented. The hunt was over for the day in less than two hours, the wind too fierce for much movement.

Sunday morning dawned calm, with a change in forcast wind direction - south east would do. The low hill again produced nothing , so at mid morning I took a hike up to the ridge above the lake. Halfway in, a yearling doe trotted up the hill about 75 yards ahead. Close behind was its twin.

The rifle shot did not seem loud, nor the recoil heavy, but the yearling doe dropped like a stone at the report. I walked forward. Both deer lay in the middle of the trail on the ridge above the lake. I watched as the life poured out of them. Red stains on the forest floor and steaming breath into the morning air. An ear twitch, the shake of a head, then a  couple of rear leg kicks. Several minutes passed before the last movement stopped. I watched. Three or four very long minutes. Standing closely in the presence of death.

There was no laughter, no high five, no cheering nor congratulation, only the sound of the freshening wind in the birch tops and the hooting of the tundra swans as they pushed south through the pale November sky.

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