Starving for the Weekend

Thanksgiving is behind us and we are probably all a little fatter than we were over a week ago. I stayed true to my word and didn’t eat any turkey this year. My anti-turkey movement even caught on at my in-laws for Thanksgiving, as there wasn’t a bird in sight. If my hunting luck doesn’t change soon I am going to have to eat my words, and the turkey.

No quicker than we finished our Thanksgiving lunch on Thursday, I began planning my weekend hunting trip in my mind. I had visions of killing a doe on the first evening, then hunting one of the “shooter” bucks that we have on camera the remainder of the weekend. In my mind, the hunt always plays out easier than it actually happens. I do the same thing with baseball games during our season. Before a series begins I play the entire weekend out in my head. Of course, it never happens the way I draw it up, and the same goes with hunting, most of the time.

I left our house Friday around noon headed toward our deer camp south of Vicksburg. My wife noticed that I didn’t pack much to eat before I walked out the door. I told her that if I didn’t kill a deer that I wouldn’t be eating any meat. What a stupid thing to say. The first evening hunt went about as you would expect. I arrived at the camp just as the rain stopped and hurried to a stand positioned along the Big Black River. I saw one deer during the hunt just as the fog and darkness rolled in. It was a spike, so I would have to settle for crackers and guacamole dip for dinner that night. Thankfully, I was still pretty full from all of the food I was forced to eat on Thursday.

On Saturday morning, I hunted a new stand on the property that overlooks a road in-between a bedding area and a cypress brake. This stand is a tripod that sits about 12 feet off the ground that provides a 360 degree view of the surrounding area. I thought it would be a great place to catch deer moving from the bedding area to feeding areas. The problem that I had was the seat. It was essentially the bones of a seat with no cushion. The location of the stand was great, but my butt and my back couldn’t take more than a couple hours of sitting. I did see a doe and two yearlings cross the road, but they moved across the road so quickly that I wouldn’t have been able to get a shot off even if I wanted to. My morning hunt ended the same way as the previous evening, with no meat.

With my confidence fading as I returned to camp, I decided to run up the road to a store and grab some vegetables and some granola bars so I wouldn’t completely starve if I didn’t kill a deer. My fortune soon changed when I returned to camp. The Donald family showed up to watch the Egg Bowl at the camp that evening, and they brought food. They brought enough food to feed Patton’s 3rd Army and were kind enough to make sure I didn’t starve. Brad, the deer skinning machine, brought the best bag of deer jerky that I’ve ever eaten in my life, and David Donald fried some fish from our lake, which was fantastic. With the pressure off of me to kill a deer to eat that night, I figured I’d see plenty of action in the woods that evening.

 I went to a stand notorious for seeing plenty of doe with the hopes bagging one to take back home. The first deer entered the food plot around 3:45, and I almost immediately recognized it as a button head buck. It was still early and I’ve seen a ton of does from this stand in previous years, so my confidence remained high. The button head fed in the plot until a one horned buck ran him out. Some would call this deer a cull buck and shoot him immediately to keep him from breeding. The deer was young, and I figured something happened that caused one side of his rack to break off during the velvet stage, so I let him walk. As the sun was beginning to set another buck entered the plot. This one was a little larger and began to bully the one horned buck. While the larger 6 point was bullying the young deer, another buck caught my eye in the distance. I identified him as a three and half year old eight point, which doesn’t quite meet our standards as a shooter buck on the property. He entered the food plot, made a scrape at the edge, and headed toward the other two bucks. If you’ve never seen two bucks fight, it is a really cool experience. The older buck’s ears folded down and he began to stagger sideways like he was drunk. The younger buck seemed up to the challenge and they locked horns. The fight lasted for a few minutes with the older buck getting the upper hand and running the younger deer from the plot. Darkness soon followed and the hunt was over. I returned to the camp with no meat but excited from what I considered a successful hunt. Plus, I knew I wasn’t going to go hungry that night.

That night we feasted on fried fish, potatoes, and hush puppies while watching football outside by a large fire. For the moment, all was right in the world, well almost. Everyone at the camp, aside from me, is a Mississippi State grad. There was no covid, no political issues, just a bunch of friends enjoying each other’s company and good food. That’s what’s so special about deer camp. For me, it’s an escape from the world. Breaking my normal routine, I stayed and hunted on Sunday. It rained pretty much all day and I came up empty handed again, but that’s ok. There will be other days. Plus, if I really need deer meat, I’ll just take my daughter. She’s a better hunter than me anyway.

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