Over a week ago I was convinced that my deer season had come to a close. I packed up all of my gear from the camp and brought it home. Then began the annual cleansing of hunting clothing and rifles, packing away of gear, and the general sulking of being done. My spirits were lifted, though, with our first spring practice coming up on Monday. Without much time between my transitions, the down time wouldn’t be so bad, or so I thought. On Sunday, with a tiny cough and a sore throat, everything changed.
Our middle daughter didn’t feel so well on Saturday night. She tossed and turned throughout the night, but we just chalked it up as normal for someone with so much energy. She had a slight cough, but nothing to be overly concerned with. By Sunday morning, I knew she didn’t feel well. She’s normally very energetic and a generally happy kid. We kept her home from church and figured she’d be better by the afternoon. Shortly after lunch, we got a phone call from the school telling us that she’d been a close contact to someone with Covid and would need to quarantine. With that information, we decided to test her just to see. Just like that, our two year run escaping the China virus was over.
The CDC, and all of its wisdom, recently sent out new guidelines regarding Covid-19. If one is more than six months out from having been vaccinated, without the booster, they are no longer considered fully vaccinated. Unfortunately, I fall into this category which meant that I would have to quarantine, as well. With our entire family at home, and not feeling sick, an entirely new possibility was opened. My oldest daughter, who’s been fortunate enough to kill a buck the last two years, hadn’t been hunting yet this year. With her streak in jeopardy of being broken, now seemed like a good time to get back into the woods.
Some of you are possibly thinking, “Oh no, you’re supposed to stay inside and not go anywhere!” Well, that may be true, but I’m not sitting inside my house for 10 days after testing negative, having zero symptoms, and feeling perfectly fine. Is that selfish? You bet it is. Besides, I can’t give anyone a cold in the woods, so why not go? I unpacked some of our gear, loaded the truck, and headed to the camp to breathe fresh air and spend time with my daughter. Our time on Earth is short and I intend to spend it living rather than holed up in the house.
On the drive up, I could tell that my daughter was excited. She knew we were only going up and back for the evening, and not spending the night in a tent, so it was easy for her to be pumped up about going. The weather was great! Temperatures were hovering around the upper 40s and the sun was shining. It was a little windier than I would have liked, but otherwise, it was a perfect afternoon to get a hunt in. As we pulled into the gate at the camp I could feel my adrenaline flow. I’d been waiting all year to get her up for a hunt before the season seemingly ran out on us. Now, we were here, and that made me happy.
We arrived, quickly got our gear together, and headed to a box stand. She wanted to go to the stand that she killed her first ever deer in. I agreed that this would be a good spot for the evening. The stand is positioned along a food plot and is perfect for a north wind, which is what we had. After a short four wheeler ride, and a short hike, we got settled in for the evening hunt. She clamored about how good the food plots looked, and how pretty the landscape was. I couldn’t have agreed more. The green grass coupled with the blue sky behind it was beautiful. Now, we just needed some brown added to our canvas.
The first deer to enter the plot was a large doe. We had already made the decision to wait until as late as possible to shoot a doe in hopes of a buck giving us an opportunity. Mackenzie, just last year, pretty much refused to shoot a doe, but seemed willing to do so this year, if needed. Soon, the food plot began to fill up with deer. A couple more does and a couple of smaller bucks came in to feed for the evening. We spent time watching their mannerisms and how they alerted each other of potential danger. None of the bucks were mature enough to shoot, so we continued to wait. With the sun quickly fading, it was time for Mackenzie to make a decision on whether or not she could shoot a doe.
She assured me that she wanted to shoot the biggest doe, and we eased her rifle out of the window. She didn’t have a great shot opportunity, so she had to patiently await a clean shot. It seemed like forever for me, so I know it had be an eternity for her. However, she remained patient and calm, showing signs of a mature hunter at such a young age. When the doe finally turned and provided a broadside shot, she slowly squeezed the trigger. It was a quick death, which made us both happy. Mackenzie had killed her first ever doe, and kept her yearly streak intact.
The ride back was mostly quiet. We hadn’t gotten very far out of Vicksburg, and Mackenzie was already asleep. Essentially alone in my thoughts, I wondered what the coming days would hold for us. In a few days, would we all be sick? Would we all be fine? As my mind wandered, I also felt grateful for this unexpected trip. I’d written that my biggest regret from this season was not taking her hunting. With that being fulfilled, I can rest easy knowing hunting season is over…or is it?