Last year I would've have been torn between going grouse hunting or trying to put venison steaks on the grill.
With the recent passing of Henry, my 14-year-old springer spaniel, there was no debate.
I wouldn't be ducking briars this late September, instead I would be sloggin' through soybeans. (OK, not really, maybe just a little, Bill, if you're reading this. Bill is the Sanilac County farmer who lets me hunt his fields but is particular about his beans being left alone and rightfully so -- whether it be by man or beast.)
As usual, this past Thursday, Sept. 18, I had a plan of being in the ladder stand and waiting til dusk for the bean munchers to come out and fill up on Bill's beans, but my grand ideas were waylaid by the hooved ruminants.
Three to be exact, who were lying comfortably 30 yards behind my stand in a field I don't have permission to hunt.
After a 15-minute staredown, I decided to push the issue. And that part of the plan worked as they sprang out into the bean field I can hunt. I ripped off two shots, and watched what I thought was a deer struggling to escape.
Later, while searching the area where I marked the last sight of the deer in question, I discovered why it was struggling through the chest-high vines.
It was difficult for even a human to venture through, and after an hour and a half, I called the game because of darkness, no sign and a growling stomach that missed dinner.
Upon leaving, a deer crossed the road in front of the truck unscathed and without damage. Hmmmmm. I wonder ...
The next morning -- Friday, Sept. 19 -- I again pursued backstrap and with hopes dear doe was still piled up in the beans.
On the way to my temporary sit where I would wait until it was late enough in the morning so I wouldn't stir things up too much to botch any future bow hunts, I jumped two deer.
Let's see, two and one make three, but I still needed to comb the field and that I did but found nothing after two and a half hours.
Talk about a workout.
I feel confident I did my best in searching for a potential downed deer but everything came up empty: no hair, no blood, no tracks with a noticeable limp.
There was some uneasiness but if two days into the deer season I'm already discouraged, it's gonna be a long one. So I put it behind me and hope I didn't mess things up too much for the Oct. 1 bow opener.
Read about the great Henry at www.macshuntingmag.com.