Hating Those Small Bucks
I'd been hunting deer in Georgia, spending a lot of time in a big box stand we'd built about a year and a half before. I kept seeing deer, but they were all either small bucks (therefore illegal) or they wouldn't let me see their heads to determine whether they were does (legal). It's an odd situation when you have a deer strolling by broadside, unaware of your presence, and you haven't seen antlers yet so you think it might be a doe... and then when it moves its head and you see the antlers, you say, "Crap, it's a buck."
But that's just the situation I was in on that trip.
I'd seen a good number of deer, most of them from that stand. In fact, I had seen eight of the critters in less than three days of hunting, none of which were identifiable as shooters. One of them was indeed a big buck, but he refused to come into the clear and give me a good look at his head so I could determine whether he was legal or not.
Then I sat in the four-foot-by-eight-foot box stand again on Monday afternoon. As I mentioned, I'd lost some sleep before then, and I was nodding off in my stand. The weather was overcast and warm, and it was shady in that hardwood bottom - even moreso since I was under a roof. The balmy weather and general lack of sleep had me feeling drowsy, and I hadn't been feeling great anyhow, so I decided to stretch out and get comfortable.
I improvised a pillow from my raincoat and put it on the rail of the stand, reclined in the swiveling office chair, and propped my feet on my little folding stool. This poor man's recliner was mighty comfy, once I got situated. Finally the squirrels stopped fiddling in the leaves long enough for me to relax and zonk out.
Roughly an hour later, I awoke. Must have been an angel that tapped me on the shoulder or whispered in my ear... see, I'm usually hard to wake up. But not that time... I came awake, looked to my right, and behold! Just across the creek stood a whitetail deer. At that point I was definitely awake!
I reversed the Savage 270 rifle, which I'd had cradled across my body, and raised it, left-handed (which is backwards for me), to scope the deer's head and hunt for tell-tale fuzzy bumps that would identify it as a young - illegal - buck. I could see none.
This was getting good.
The deer was only about 35 yards away at this point, feeding along, carelessly unaware of my presence. So, I slowly sat up and shifted the rifle to my right shoulder as I pivoted, hoping all the time that my raincoat pillow wouldn't avalanche and make racket. It didn't! Thanks again to the angels who watch over such things for us clumsy humans. I was also thankful that I had oiled the creaky chair just the day before.
I propped up on the rail of the stand to steady myself. Again I searched her head for bumps, and found none - just a furry pointed doe-head.
This was getting really good. The safety came off.
I had decided to take a neck shot if I had a good chance to do so. I'd never chosen to take a neck shot before, but I figured it would make for a good killing shot with minimal meat waste. I placed the crosshairs where her neck met her body, and squeezed the trigger. In the shady creek bottom, the orange flame of the muzzle flash suddenly filled my view through the scope, then was gone.
Down she went! Down she stayed.
This was getting better all the time!