My last-minute run to the woods to fill my tag with a big buck was not thought out particularly well. I dressed warm, threw my pack, blaze-orange hoodie, hunting vest and shotgun into the idling truck. The tank read half. The windshield was frost-free. In spite of a couple good snow storms in the last week, the roads were generally clear and the three-speed straight-six did its best against a ridiculous W/NW gale.

Now, of trucks and deer hunting, there are a couple well-known rules that should be noted once the snow flies:
1. Make sure you’ve got weight in the bed of your truck. As long as I can remember my dad having a truck this has been a seasonal ritual. Putting sandbags in the back. It’s the one thing that separates you from all the yahoos whose trucks are buried in drifts, ditches or the rear-end of some unsuspecting Prius. Unless that one thing is beer, in which case sandbags won’t make them a dang bit of difference.
2. When a front is moving in and the wind and snow go horizontal, it’s best to grab a beer and watch the game. For all intents and purposes, that’s what the deer are doing.

Of course when it comes to rules, well-known doesn’t mean always-followed. Take my present situation for example.

My lack of forethought pertaining to rule #1 struck me as I pulled a u-turn to park the truck on the side of the road where we walk into our woods from: I’ve got zero weight in the bed of the truck. I pulled onto the shoulder, getting as close as possible to its edge without sliding over, in order to allow enough room for the fly-wing of the County’s plow truck to leave my mirror attached.

If I get stuck, I told myself, standing in the squall, I’ll cross that bridge when I’m done hunting– effectively dismissing rule #2 as well. This is how the male hunting-mind works. It’s a complex and inexplicable animal.

I suited up, locked the truck and started the 1/4-mile hike across a wide-open field to the woods.

Once in the woods, I spotted a half-dozen new rubs, but no fresh tracks. I was confident that this would be my afternoon. I settled into the stand, hung my gun on its hook and lit my pipe. The wind blew snow in whirls and clouds through the hardwoods around me. I was warm enough from the hike in to leave my gloves in my pocket for a while. Life was good.

Twenty minutes passed. No longer warm from the hike in, I put my pipe away and fished my gloves from my pocket. To my right, a big doe walked out from behind a thicket of trees, picking her way toward me. A doe was not on the docket for today’s hunt, but I grabbed my gun from its hook in case my buck was sniffing around.

She stood facing my direction at 40 yards. If I moved, she’d bust me and the jig would be up. I sat like a rock. Every direction she looked or turned her ears toward, I followed with my eyes. Five minutes later, she lied down right where she was standing. No buck. Just a bed comfortable enough to ride out the storm, complete with a view of a blaze orange testament to what happens when you don’t follow the rules. Shit.

So there I sat. Wind and snow. Dropping temps. More wind and snow. Nose running like a track-star. After two hours, she continued to lie there chewing her cud, body almost snowed-over. Snowed-over as well, and right about the time I started talking to the squirrels in neighboring trees, I decided I needed to stand up. Success. Daylight gave out twenty minutes later and she busted me climbing down out of the tree. I could sort of feel my fingers and toes again as I traipsed out of the woods to the field, a fading gray and drifting tundra.

In the end, the truck didn’t get stuck. That’s not to say I didn’t come uncomfortably close, mind you. I pulled slowly from the shoulder to the road. Fishtails dictated that 35 mph was all the truck would allow. Slow and steady. Which was fine by me. I had nothing to prove that I suppose hadn’t already. Besides, the game wasn’t starting for another hour and twenty minutes…and the beer wasn’t going anywhere either.


Filed under In the woods

6 responses to “WHEN THE SNOW FLIES

  1. When the weather gets bad, the ducks move. Not always a good deal in my world. So I share many of these bad weather experiences. There’s just something that makes you feel like such a bad-ass when you get home. Checks burned. Lungs screaming for warm air. It makes me feel alive.

    That’s why I love ice fishing. I can’t wait for these lakes to lock up. Hope you get your buck.

    • Fishingpoet

      Bad-ass is a great way to put it. Got the weather and world by the nuts and the couch always feels too small when you take it over.
      Thanks for the shout. I dug your last post by the way. I was rooting for the Lions. Speaking of bad-ass, Suh fits the bill.

  2. When I read your posts, Matt, I can see the images as clearly as if I’d been sitting in the tree next to yours. Thanks for taking me into the woods for a few minutes! Nice having lunch with you yesterday. See you soon.

    • Fishingpoet

      Thanks Grant! I appreciate the comment. Looking forward to giving the muzzleloader a shot in a couple weeks (pun intended).

  3. ski

    Nice story Matt,
    As always you were always great at telling stories, remembering one of my favorites- Calhoun. You’ll have to email me that story again some day if you still remember it. Sorry you didn’t get your buck, but now that I’m living in Southern Florida, reading your story brings back vivid memories of days so cold while hunting.
    Take care bro.

    • Fishingpoet

      Thanks Ski! Glad you enjoyed it. I appreciate the comment. I vaguely remember Calhoun. You’ll have to refresh my memory sometime. As far as my buck’s concerned…there’s plenty of season left (late archery and muzzleloader)!

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