Changing of the Seasons

Amidst the Crazy

In this past semester of college, 6 of my professors have left, either permanently or temporarily. By the end of this year, my favorite priest will also be leaving my school parish.

Maybe it’s me being the common denominator or something, I’m not sure, but all this change has been tough because a lot of important people won’t be in my life this time next year.

Luckily, there was one positive change in fall – Oct. 10, to be exact – that blew in with the chillier winds: a certain 5-point-deer that I’ll be having for dinner when I get to go home for break.

A view from my tree stand. Nothing is better, even when no deer are harvested.

I’ve been in a rut by not killing a deer for three years. I know this is not a bad thing or something to complain about and I’ve gotten a few squirrels within this time period, but I’ve been busy with school. I just wanted time to relax and do my favorite thing – go hunting – and maybe accomplish the goal of the hunt: the harvest.

So, amidst this crazy semester, my dad took me out in my tiny window of a fall break to give me the opportunity to let an arrow fly perfectly into a buck’s lung and liver.

The “Flying WV” is the symbol for my college, West Virginia University. My dad surprised me with these arrows as an early birthday present last year, and I was itching to harvest an animal with them.

How It Happened

The entire month of September, I was itching to go archery hunting. WVU’s club archery team was lovely, but I needed to pursue more than a target.  This is where the patience practice came in – I had to wait for the season to start so I could wait for a deer when I was finally in the tree stand. God’s funny that way.

The thought of hunting was also an excellent distraction from the thought of the impending abandonment from my beloved educators.

September and the first week of October just showed how desperately I needed to hunt, how I need to experience the top predator position in the wild, to be able to control one little thing in my life. I mean I know I can’t control the animals, but I can control my presence in the woods with an opportunity to harvest my meals.

That’s what I got to do, too. October came. We drove five hours home. I slept in, ate food, showered scent-free and got camo-clad. My dad and I drove to our archery stand, climbed in and relaxed, observed, became baffled by the beauty of agriculture and edges of forests, watched leaves learn choreography from the wind, breathed.

It’s one of those sights you can’t get used to in the best way possible.

After a few glorious hours, my dad scratched the tree, his signal for telling me to stand up. He pointed out two buck 200 yards away and told me to wait.

I rose with the setting of the sun, its beams growing longer with each tromp of the deers’ hooves down the field.

Hi, Dad! We sit in a double tree stand like this because that’s one reason to hunt: bonding with people. And it’s fun. And he feeds me candies.

It was difficult to tell the number of points on both of these deer because of the sun’s shadows, so I had to wait until they were both within 25 yards. My dad had the rangefinder up and told me the closest and larger buck was 17 yards away, an ideal range for me. The conversation between us was pretty comical.

“Does it have a brow tine?” I whispered.
“I dunno, does it?” my dad responded.
“I think I see one. I’m not sure. What do you think?”

Suddenly, the deer whipped its head from a feeding position to stare right at our double tree stand. It was the longest 15 seconds imaginable and, to my luck, it put its head right back down and started feeding again.
“I see the brow tine. Do you, Dad?” I ask for confirmation.
The deer takes two steps, about to take a third.
“Bahh,” my dad says.

The arrow flew accurately with precision, especially with that flying WV logo on it. I start bawling instantly, knowing the shot was good. The buck ran less than 100 yards and died within the hour.

I still cannot believe I got to harvest this beautiful creature.

These deer were going into their rut to help me out of mine. No, this 5-point is not a Pope & Young record holder, but it holds the power to give me confidence to do me, the tangible necessity among the changing seasons.

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My five-point!