As we flipped the page of the calendar this last weekend it marks an upcoming event that many of us are looking forward to. The opening of deer season.
As I think about the approaching Oct. 1 opener it reminds me of so many past outings that really stand out in my mind. We all have these stories. Just hang around any sporting goods department for a few minutes and you will be sure to hear a yarn being spun by more than one person. The first one that came to mind is a particular day in the heart of Alabama.
I was in the Deep South for the end of the Alabama whitetail season. The property I was on is owned by one of the premier product manufacturers in the hunting industry. I’ll keep them anonymous for this story, but anyone that hunts would know the names if I mentioned them.
This particular company wanted to put on a doe harvest to help balance some of the numbers out on their land. It was severely out of balance at this acreage and several different industry folks were brought in for the event. It was kind of a who’s-who in the industry type of weekend.
Naturally, I was a bit intimidated by rubbing shoulders with people that I have read about and admired for quite some time. My role on this outing was to simply act as a companion and videotape the hunt so it could air on television. So yes, there was some pressure. There is no take-two moments when trying to record a live hunt.
I assumed the corporate officer I was going to be paired with was a seasoned veteran of many whitetail encounters. After talking to him for a short while it was apparent this was the case. It was interesting, though, to see just how similar we are when the excitement of a hunt kicks in. It doesn’t matter if we’ve been on a hundred hunts or ten, when the adrenaline starts, we’re all human.
We parked in the back lot of an old Stuckey’s restaurant and hopped the fence to make the long afternoon trek to our box stand. We were going to be using rifles and scopes so this particular stand had been setup like the spokes on a wagon wheel. It was situated in the center of a large grassy field. There were mowed spokes all the way around the stand. The grass in between was tall and thick. So tall in fact you couldn’t see a deer walking through it.
The mild Alabama afternoon was starting to crisp as the sun slowly tucked itself behind the horizon. As expected, a few does started to cautiously graze their way from the nearest wood line and into the field to feed. I spotted the first one about a hundred yards away with my binoculars.
I told my seasoned hunting partner and he took a look through his glass. Both of us watched as the doe slowly, but surely, made its way right down one of the mowed paths toward us. Then I heard something.
It was breathing, real heavy breathing. I looked at my partner and he was right smack dab in the middle of an adrenaline overload. He was shaking like he had just seen a ghost. He brought the scope up to take a look and his out-of-control breathing fogged up the lens something horrible.
This only made him more nervous. His speech was choppy and his hands were a mess. He tried to rub the moisture off the scope eyepiece and then dropped the entire rifle against the side of the blind. Smack!
During this entire episode he is muttering under his breath and yes, not all of it was fit to be printed. To put it mildly, he was freaking out. Part of me wanted to laugh, but I didn’t. Why? Because I knew exactly what he was going through.
Most of us have experienced this crazy, weird, out-of-control adrenaline episode before. Though most of us have felt it after we have taken the shot, not before, like this poor guy did. His arms, hands, and fingers were so shaky it took all his concentration to manipulate them safely.
Before long he was able to calm himself and take a clean shot. Successful hunt, but wow, it is one I will never forget.
Even the most accomplished among us can be overcome with emotion. It is that excitement and adrenaline rush that keeps us coming back. As you enter the woods or waters this fall in pursuit of your favorite game animal I hope you too have the same excitement and thrill as this friend of mine did from Alabama. Well, maybe I hope you don’t shake quite that much.