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.

23 October 2009

Hunter's Stand #1

PERSONAL NOTE: The following article is one that I wrote while living in Opp , Alabama during the 1970s. Our oldest son, Tim, who was a senior in high school, was asked by the editor of the Opp News to be the editor of the sports section of the weekly paper. I thought I would help him to fill his section by writing hunting stories under an anonymous name. In south Alabama most deer hunters used dogs during those years but there were a few die hard still hunters who enjoyed the sport.
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Hunter's Stand #1
Deer Hunting ~ The First Day
By A. Nimrod
You know that the time is drawing near. There are definite signs. Some men become very impatient. Daily they stare at the calendar and count off the days, wishing for time to fly by just bit swifter. They take endless walks in the woods looking for a rub, a scrape, tracks or some kind of evidence that the deer are still around and waiting to be shot at come November. Many a man will spend his money, his wife’s money and what he can borrow from the bank to purchase a truck. No, not an old dull-looking thing but a brand new pick-up with a bright two-tone paint job, fancy hubcaps, am and fm radio and even air-conditioned (after all it does get hot riding those dusty roads a-looking for your dogs.). Of course, the wife will drive the worn out family car to carry the children to school and to drive to work. But, you know, first things must come first. The wife understands that the husband’s ego is more important than her having a nice new car. Now you just think about it. If the deer hunting husband can drive a brand new truck, with a CB radio antenna a-bending in the breeze as he goes driving through town, you know that she will be mighty proud of her husband. Why, he has the envy of all those other fellows – especially the bow hunter and the lonely still hunter. Because, you see, they will stay up night wondering how that lucky fellow can drive a new truck and at the same time not work during the long deer season that runs from November till January. And, you stop and ponder over that thing, and it is a wonder.

Then, there is the introvert deer-slayer who had rather be off by himself, up a tree with his rifle, a-freezing to death than to enjoy the deer tales and lies of dozens of shotgun wielding deer hunters, along with the yelping of hundreds of hounds a-hankering to go jump up a fawn or two. This unusual nut will spend endless hours a-gazing at tracks and all the other signs and planning his maneuvers. He is most confident that he will kill a 20-point deer the very first morning. He will even boast to his buddies of the findings that he has made. Now, you just try to get him to explain where he saw such signs and he will come back with a smart-alec answer like, “between here and the Florida line.”

But this type of hunter will spend his money, his wife’s money and all that he can get from other sources to purchase a precious 30-06 caliber rifle (he thinks that a moose might come walking around). He has out-grown his lowly 30-30. Anyway, it’s not automatic. You need a least 7 shots that can be fired in less than 2 seconds because you never know how big and how fast that crazy buck will be. He will even carry extra rounds of ammunition in his pocket just in case he sees more deer than he can handle in one morning. Not only is a rifle important but also in order to be modern and scientific, he has either purchased or made him a tree stand. Just ask him about this jewel. I really don’t see how the Indians ever killed a deer without one of the mechanical devices. Why he can go up to 100 feet in the air and see into the next county if the Pine tree is tall enough. (Wives, just a note here.) If you are planning to divorce your deer hunting, no account husband, don’t do it. Just buy him a tree stand and he will eventually fall out of a lonesome Pine, break his neck and then you can collect the insurance, which will be more respectable.

But, here it is the night before the morning. If you think that the kids have problems on December 24th a-waiting for Santa, you should live the life of a deer hunter. He’s still got a lot of kid in him. He can’t sleep. He knows that he has got to get up early the next morning but he can’t sleep. Instead of counting sheep, as a normal and sane person would do, he can’t see anything but a herd of deer – all bucks. He goes through his ritualistic, planned program of activities. His gun has been cleaned (he stares at it, loves it and sort of worships it). He has bought 40 rounds of ammunition. Before he retires for the night, he will make sure that he has enough Vienna sausages to last for a couple of months, sardines (that should kill the human scent), pork an’ beans, drinks, etc. He never knows whether or not he might get lost and the food would come in handy for at least a month (which is consumed the first morning). He carefully piles his hunting garments in a stack near the back door. According to the unreliable weather reports, he will choose the clothing that he thinks he will need. After all, a fellow could freeze to death in Covington County (by mid-morning, he has pulled off everything except one pair of pants and his tee shirt).

Then, the ordeal begins. He knows that he must get to bed. Any other night, that would be just fine but not tonight. He knows, his wife knows, his children know that he won’t be able to sleep. He sets the alarm clock for some ungodly hour like 4:00 o’clock and the battle begins. He thinks of deer, he dreams of deer, he curses deer because he can’t sleep. He rolls and tumbles. He sweats. He listens for that crazy alarm clock. He thinks that it is time to get up. He turns the light on and looks at the clock – it is only 11:30. What a slow night of all nights. Every hour on the hour, he wakes up and looks hopefully at the clock but it is not time to get out of bed. But, finally, just before the clock sounds, he wakes up and pushes the stem in and rejoices that it is time to get out of bed.

With great hopes, he sets out today what he has prepared to do for a long time. But, this day he probably will not kill a deer nor will he the next day or the next. But, you can’t tell him that he won’t ever because he believes that eventually his time is coming. And, that is exactly what keeps him going and what drives his wife batty. Explain it, I can’t. You know why? Because I am a victim of this horrible disease. But, the difference between me and the rest of those insane deer hunters is the fact that I am going to kill a buck the first morning.

From the Opp News, October 1974