Allan Bell’s Birch Bark Nature Notes revisited:
By Allan Bell
I’ve been debating whether to regale you again this week with the past misadventures of this mighty hunter. Well, you lost! One more time.
I’m a sitter. Not just on any old stump, but I believe in comparative comfort. So, on an opening morning long ago (1956, I think) I lugged much heavy clothing (I get cold easy), a folding wooden chair with canvas seat and back, a can of charcoal briquets (Sterno works, too), a large metal can with several holes punched in it, a blanket, and a musette bag with sandwiches, candy bars, and a quart of hot coffee. After all, does hunting have to entail suffering? Oh, yes, a gun, too.
At least a half hour before daylight I staggered to my stand, hot, tired and puffing like the old M.T. & W. Stand, did I say? No, it was to my sitting place. I never could stand up very long.
I lit the small can of charcoal and placed it under the large metal can. When an adequate posterior was placed in the seat of the folding chair, the canvas sagged to a scant inch above the can, which was now acting as a radiator. This warmed all of the important parts of the anatomy. Now the blanket was wrapped around me, my legs and the chair. I was in my cocoon and soon toasty warm. It was easy to fall asleep under these conditions.
My sit was on a narrow, twisting old logging road in a dense hardwood forest. Visibility was limited to about 75 feet in all directions. After a couple of hours of remaining as still and quiet as possible, I just had to stand up and stretch, and was going to have some hot coffee.
There , right in front of me, not 50 feet away, a buck was slowly moving along, head down, apparently feeding. I quickly raised the gun and fired. He bounded off, white flag flying high, and disappeared in the thick brush. I ran down the trail, hoping he would circle, but saw and heard nothing.
Darn it! Why hadn’t I waited a minute or two until the deer was clear of the several small trees in the way? Too late now. Dejectedly I returned to my chair and sat down to wait a bit, just in case I hadn’t missed. Finally, I could stand the suspense no longer and my pulse rate had calmed down to about 2,800 rpm’s.
Entering the woods, I picked up the track and my heart leaped when I saw spatters of blood. I hadn’t missed after all! Spirits soaring, I followed the circling tracks. Within 100 feet, there was the dead buck, shot right through the heart. I was going to say “deader than a door nail,” but I don’t know what a door nail is, and how dead could it be? Where did that saying come from?
About six feet from the deer’s body was a deer bed. To satisfy my curiosity I followed the tracks from the bed. They circled and led right to where I had shot the buck. He had apparently got up from his bed and fed up to in front of me, unaware of my presence. He had made a complete circle, almost falling back into his own bed.
The wind was right. The buck didn’t hear me. It fed in the proper direction. I hadn’t coughed, smoked or moved around. If I hadn’t stood up I never would have seen the deer. How lucky can you be? Oh, happy day! That memory is just as clear today as it was so long ago.
No more deer stories –this year.
May good fortune bless your hunting efforts.
Late nature writer Allan Bell wrote this Birch Bark Nature Notes column for the Tomahawk Leader back on Nov. 23, 1993. Good luck to all those hitting the woods for the opener of the nine-day gun deer season this Saturday, Nov. 23.