29 October 2009

It was my good fortune to be able to hunt on some 450 acres of prime hunting ground owned by my good friend Warren Burt. His land lays on a ridge several miles north of Prattville and just off U.S. Highway 82. When you turn west off of 82 you go up on a ridge and his property was right on top of one of the highest points in Autauga County , Alabama . Most of the land in the middle of his property is used for pasture for his livestock. Near the south end of his property you can look as far as your eyes can see across the Alabama River and into Lowndes County . On either side of the pastures are hardwood hollows that are ideal for hunting turkey and deer. Often during those years I was the only one hunting his land on certain mornings in the early part of the week. There came a time when he began to lease his land for hunting and I chose not to be involved for financial reasons, however, that did not affect our relationship to any degree. During the off season I will go out just to walk around and enjoy the quietness and serenity of this beautiful acreage and to visit with my good friend. On occasions I will carry my camera to take pictures of the trees and wild life.

Well, one day I was driving in my truck through the pasture where Warren had hauled hay in his trailer for his cows to eat. Much to my surprise I saw one cow that was really eager to get ahead of the herd. I thought she was ‘making a hog’ of herself when she decided to get up in the trailer to feast on that delicious hay. I considered her to be rather ‘uppity’ about the whole matter. Those beef cattle reminded me of dairy cows and that reminds me of the morning when I was milking a cow and a tornado came along and blew that cow away and left me ‘holding the bag.’ On another occasion when I was milking a cow a fly flew into its ear and not long after, the fly wound up in the milk bucket. But you have heard that old saying, ‘In one ear and out the udder.’ I am reminded also of a good friend who told me after listening to one of my corny jokes that he was going to do me a favor and not repeat it. That sounds like good advice.A SECOND CHANCE
In the fall of 2000 my friend, Warren, informed me that he had extended his fence down in one hollow and that one morning when he was riding his four wheeler to work he jumped a big buck that came out of a kudzu patch. I asked him to show me where the buck had been bedded down and in which direction he ran. Well you can rest assured that I began to hunt in that hollow. I found where this old boy had worked over a rather large tree with its antlers and I could tell that this fellow was something worth hunting. I found an old ladder stand that had been attached to a tree for several years and I sat in it and I had a panoramic view of the beautiful hollow below me. One afternoon as I was walking toward the stand I jumped the big buck and though I did not see him I will guarantee you that I heard him running. He sounded more like a horse than a deer. For several days I sat in the old stand until late afternoon and then I would move up the ridge and down a dirt road that led to an open field and then I would sit myself in a ladder stand some 14 feet up the side an oak tree. I thought to myself if that deer follows his trail he will come out about seventy yards from where I was sitting. There was a small road where I thought he might exit the woods and that would give me a clear shot at him. Well I sat there waiting and from time to time I would look through my scope to make sure that I could see the crosshairs. I kept hearing some sounds to my right and up the rise in the field so I would watch in that direction for possibly a deer coming my way. As the sun was setting and darkness was slowly but surely falling, I heard that big boy walking. I looked and could faintly see his antlers so then I raised my rifle and looked through the scope and, would you believe it, I couldn’t see the crosshairs. That big buck had been spared another day to live.

In the month of May of the following year 2001, my Cardiologist found a major artery across my heart that was 95 percent blocked so he inserted a stent which I still have with me today. I had some other health problems plus the fact that I lost about 30 pounds too rapidly. The following deer season I was not anxious to be in the woods alone so I did not go hunting during the rest of 2001; however, by January 15, 2002, I was crawling up the walls and just had to get out in the woods with my rifle. I called Warren and he said the fellows had just about quit hunting that late in January so he said for me to come on up that day. I asked Warren if any deer had been killed in the area where the big buck had been traveling and he replied in the negative. That afternoon I went to the same old ladder stand and sat there until late afternoon and then moved slowly back up the ridge and walked down to the ladder stand by the old oak tree and sat there hoping that I would soon see some action. Would you believe that at 5:25 p.m., that big buck walked straight out of the woods some 70 yards from me? He stared my way for the longest and I would not move a muscle until he moved and turned sideways to me. It was then that I fired my Browning 308 caliber rifle and sent a 150 grain bullet a-headed his way. It knocked him down but he ‘crawled’ into the woods so I could no longer see him but I knew he was dead, he just did not know it. I asked myself, what were the chances of my seeing that buck the first and only day I had gone hunting that season? Darkness came and I took my flashlight out, crossed the field and entered the woods and found him very soon because he had not gone far. I called Warren and told him I had killed a deer and here he came on his four wheeler and I showed him the deer and he said immediately, “You’ve killed their big deer” (talking about the men who paid money to hunt on his land). I replied, “Warren, this is my deer. I hunted this boy last year and did not get him.” I honestly believe this was the same deer I failed to kill the year before and now I had shot him within about 10 yards of where I saw him briefly last hunting season. This was a very big bodied deer but I was disappointed in the size of his antlers. It was only a 7-pointer with the end of one tine broken off on the right side. Besides that, it was a weird looking set of antlers. I told my friend that he should feed his deer with the right minerals so the bucks would grow antlers with 10 or 15 points with a 20 inch spread. But I am very happy that this big buck gave me a second chance to shoot at him.

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