The Buck

Editor’s note: This morning I received the following text from a buddy out in the woods in search of a bruin or wapiti but who ran into another critter he likes to hunt.

By Eric Bell

It starts with a sound.

Deer season in my unit has come to end but I find myself up here this morning pursuing other game. Mainly it’s for the exercise, but there’s always a chance of coming home with a bear or elk.

A RUTTY BUCK RUNS THROUGH A STREAM. (TERRY WIEST)

I passed another hunter on my way up, both of us exchanging pleasantries and cursing at the steep climb we have just made. He’s after bear and is not too familiar with the area, so I give him directions on where to try since I’m going further back.

Now I near an abandoned spur road that holds a lot of memories and personal history — losing a machete as well as a slip-on recoil pad on my rifle. The brush is thick.

I hear a noise. I know what it is. It’s the same sound I wanted to hear during my unsuccessful deer season that ended 10 days ago.

A part of me wants to see what materializes out of the brush and another part is reluctant.

This time I don’t prepare my rifle or binoculars. I don’t drop down to my knees. I don’t unholster my revolver.

I can’t. Season is over. So I stand there and do the only thing I can. Watch.

Sure enough, two gray bodies filter through the brush.

First is a doe, and hot on her heels is a magnificent four-point buck.

She spots me and blows her warning. He doesn’t care. He’s interested in only one thing and it isn’t me.

Both stand below me at 15 yards and I can’t take my eyes off of him. Seeing a mature blacktail buck in rut in his realm is an amazing sight.

His scent is strong as his odor reaches me. I’m in awe and I’m cursing him at the same time. Where were you hiding 10 days ago?

I slowly get my camera ready to take some pics, but the doe doesn’t like the movement and she starts to walk off. The buck isn’t going to let her get away. He pursues.

Two gray bodies moving through the brush.

I continue on further back.

It all started with a sound.

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