The Enjoyment of Watching Deer
I remember sitting in a shooting house looking down the long senderos of South Texas with my dad. I was six at the time. Wildlife was everywhere. Hogs, javelinas, quail, rabbits, roadrunners and of course deer. I can still hear my dad’s instructions, telling me to keep my voice low and movements slow.
“Once you get your wind right, and know they can’t smell you, all you have to do is take it easy,” he said.
I had yet to take a big game animal; wasn’t necessarily sure it would happen that day. So, with all the patience I could muster, I resigned myself to simply sit and watch. And though I would eventually take my first two deer on the trip, what I remember most nearly three decades later is the sitting and the watching.
Bo Jackson is perhaps the greatest athlete who’s ever lived, yet he has nothing on a white-tailed deer. At a dead sprint, a whitetail can run 30 mph, jump nine feet high and outdistance the world’s greatest long jumpers by launching themselves nearly 30 feet. They can jump seven feet high standing flat footed and look more graceful than the most gifted ballerina. Though we mostly see them at their best when under duress, you can still witness great agility when they don’t suspect a human presence, like during the rut. How does a big-racked buck run through a thicket without getting his antlers tangled up?
I remember reading a quote some time back about a wild animal’s ability to recover. Sadly, I do not remember who wrote the words nor can I get it show up in a Google search.
By recover, I don’t take the quote to mean overcome a sickness or even a hunter’s wound, but to regain footing in the midst of chaos. Imagine running flat out and getting tripped by barbed wire or slipping in a mud puddle. You and I are going to lay there and catch our breath and refocus on our surroundings before getting up and trudging on. Not a deer. They may hit the top wire of a fence going 30 mph and can regain their footing so quickly that if you were to blink you’d miss it.
The Keenest Senses
I love to watch a deer acclimate to its surroundings. They are some of the most cautious animals in the woods and will rarely step into a clearing without checking the wind. Their interactions with other animals can be quite funny as well. Let a rabbit surprise a deer; it may clear the entire field.
Deer hunting is what you make it. Some of us hunt for meat. Others for antlers. Or just the chance to escape the office and be in the seclusion of a camp. Then there’s the faction that hunts purely for the enjoyment of watching deer and experiencing nature.
No matter what group you fall into, you’re probably a true admirer of odocoileus virginianus, the white-tailed deer. Unlike most animals on Earth, deer possess a quality of grace, athleticism, stamina and toughness that only a hunter can appreciate.