As Seen on a Deer Hunt

It’s the second week of the deer hunt and the deer are way ahead of me. I saw the tiny button buck last week but in the buck department, that’s it. The does seem to know we’re in a buck only zone. They’re not shy. We jumped three while we were walking Saturday morning. The only day I haven’t seen at least one doe was Tuesday.

This rock wall is about all that’s left of a farm. It’s hard to picture the forest I know as farm country decades ago.

This turtle nest surprised me yesterday. Turtles hatch in November? Who knew! Certainly not me. It’s two feet from the edge of pavement. I walk this road several times a week with my dogs and didn’t know the nest was here until the eggs hatched. I really hope these aren’t snapping turtles but I think the shells are too large to be quarter-sized painted turtles. It’s very close to our pond.

I was excited when I found this rub Saturday morning. “Look at the size of this rub,” I told Steve, extending my cell phone out to him. “That buck must be huge. It’s almost four feet long.”

“That’s a moose,” he said. I must have had a look of disappointment on my face. He followed up quickly with, “It’s ok. I’ve seen them and thought they were bucks at first. It happens.” Still learning. I need to slow down and think of all of the possibilities before I decide on something I find.
I’ve seen beautiful sunsets. They make 30 mph wind gusts when it’s 25* bearable. It was too dark to have a good shot (photo edited to lighten it up) but I stayed to watch the sunset on this day.
And there are these little beasts. The red squirrel. The Eighth Wonder of the World: a seven ounce squirrel sounds like a 150 pound deer walking through the woods. They make my heart skip a beat and my stomach flutter. I sit stone still, listening to the “deer” coming through the woods. I’m a lot less likely to be hopeful when I hear rustling now but they still get me at least once a day.

When they’re not making a racket in the dried leaves they’re screaming at me. Screaming. At. Me.

“Leave. Leave. Leave. LeaveLeaveLeaveLeaveLeave.” That’s followed by “Hunter. Hunter. There’s a hunter. HUNTER!HUNTER!HUNTER!”

If you’ve ever been sitting quietly in the woods during deer season you know what I’m talking about.

I was looking for signs of a buck on Monday afternoon. While I was busy looking at my surroundings for deer, a rub, a scrape, droppings or hair, this little…squirrel…followed me. Maybe I’m the first person he’s seen? I think he was testing my sanity.

“Big gun, tiny squirrel. You should be afraid of me,” I whispered.  He wasn’t. I stood two feet from him in a game of Chicken. I moved first and lost. I hadn’t seen any signs of deer so I took the time to get out my phone and snap this picture.

I found a place to sit at intersecting trails, got out my Rack Pack and grunt tube, and settled in for the last two hours of the day. There are does so it seems like there’s gotta be a buck around. I’m patient. I can wait. Within minutes two squirrels started chattering. One gave up but the second wouldn’t shut up. I wished for a slingshot and a box of rocks. I fantasized about hawks swooping in to nail every squirrel in the area. I concocted recipes in my mind. They’re tiny but I’m sure a quarter-cup of annoyance makes them taste good. After what seemed like an hour but was probably only 15 minutes, I got up, grabbed a stick and launched it at him. He scurried into the tree top and hopped a few trees away, and was quiet. He came back Tuesday. I had him in the cross hairs. It could be so easy. But I won’t.

I’ve seen strawberry blossoms, black-eyed Susans and a white fungus on alders. I’m happy to see does; their numbers are increasing here. I wish people would leave the small bucks to grow another year or three but I understand needing meat on the table. I find turkey feathers and bird nests. Yesterday I found a man peeing in the middle of the road. I didn’t take a picture. You’re welcome.

He’s out there.

Robin Follette

About Robin Follette

Maine Press Association award winner, 2013. Robin's Outdoors, Bangor Daily News, third place in Sports blogs. I grew up with a fishing pole in my hand and have always loved the outdoors. From gardening to hunting and fishing, kayaking, camping, hiking and foraging, most of my time is spent outdoors. I teach outdoor skills as a volunteer instructor for Hooked On Fishing - Not On Drugs and Becoming an Outdoors-Woman. Pro-staff at The Limb Grip. My personal blog is here. I'm currently working on my first book, a collection of short stories based on my outdoors experiences.