Through the Fence 11-23-09
November 23, 2009
I never understood the term “buck fever” until I experienced a case myself. When I was a teenager, I had to get up at the crack of dawn, pull on some heavy coveralls and trudge, through the cactus in the dark and sit in a deer stand for hours. I forgot all that effort, when a beautiful 8-point buck came out of the brush and within firing range. It was hard to hold my eye against the scope because I was shaking so much.
About 25 years ago, my family bought 150 acres in the Texas Hill Country where deer hunting is very popular. During the year, my dad would come down and put corn in feeders and replace the batteries in them. He hired local farmers to cultivate oats in small patches throughout the property for the big deer we hoped would come. We would make sure the blinds were in good repair and weren’t harboring any wasp nests. After shooting an animal, we would field-dress it, take it to the local locker plant and plan a return trip in several weeks to pick up the meat. Our family spent many happy times on that ranch. When I lived in a big city several hours away, going down there seemed mysterious and wild. Seeing deer out in an open field or hearing a feeder go off in the early morning hours was thrilling.
However, deer hunting and all the rituals that surround it took on a different meaning since I married and moved down here. We are no longer amazed to see deer on the side of the road or in open fields almost every day. They are beautiful and graceful as they bound over fences and disappear into the brush. But it is not worth stopping unless we see large buck with impressive antlers.
My husband and I got overexposed to the deer hunting culture when we owned the local locker plant for eight years. Grown men would be so enamored with their rugged experience that they acted like little boys pretending to be savage cave men. They didn’t bathe or shave for the few days that they hunted, and they always leaned over and spat when they got out of their trucks. When they came into the locker plant to drop off their deer, they would brag about their hunt and the trophies they shot. It was rather comical to see them around town during the day still wearing their camo outfits with traces of black and brown face paint, driving “souped up” trucks that seldom saw any off-road usage. But the influx of out of town hunters brings in lots of much needed revenue, so we always welcome them warmly.
My family enjoys venison, but nowadays we don’t have to devote much time, energy and money to put it in the freezer as those unfortunate souls who live elsewhere. One cool, overcast Sunday afternoon about five years ago, my husband discovered an easy way to hunt. My mom was taking a nap in the recliner, and the kids were wrapping up the last of their homework. My husband walked into the kitchen in his sock feet, preparing to heat up some leftovers for supper. He looked out the kitchen window that faced a small patch of oats behind the house. Several does were out nibbling at the green blades
when a large buck hopped the fence to graze with them.
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My husband watched them several minutes before making a move. He fetched his .243 and quietly raised the window over the kitchen sink. He stuck the barrel of the rifle through the opening and put his eye up to the scope and waited. He stood there for a long time, frozen in that position, seemingly transfixed. In a moment, I heard the loud report of a gun. He closed the window and put the gun back up. He went to get our son and retrieve the game that lay about a hundred yards from our back step.
When they came back in a few minutes later, dragging the trophy, my husband just smiled at me and said, “Now, that’s the easy way to hunt!”