Yoga Pants, Flip-Flops and A Thanksgiving Day Buck

Posted on December 9, 2014

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“What had brought my luck about was that incredible combination of circumstances.”

                                                                                                    Archibald Rutledge

 

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I felt the vibration of my cell phone while exiting the late afternoon November woods. On the other end of the line was my wife who inquired as to exactly where I was; an unusual inquiry from her, especially at this time of the year. As I learned moments later, she had received a phone call from my hunting partners wife, Su (AKA – Hot Mamma), asking if I was anywhere nearby as she had just shot at a buck and her husband, Big Daddy, was still at work and an hour away.

When I arrived on the scene HM was pacing back-and-forth near where she fired at the buck. After getting the story, I had Su stand exactly where she had been and direct me to where the buck was when she shot. Following up every lead in the dimming light all revealed the same result; one which I did not want to share with a first time hunter.

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“It happens to us all, everyone misses from time to time”, I explained with great sensitivity to a very frustrated, mad and disappointed huntress. Her response, which was more of a question of self-deprecation was: “That fork horn was only 15-yards away and completely oblivious to me and I couldn’t even cut a hair on him?”  I gave her a hug and told her, “Believe it or not, this will help shape you as a huntress.”

 

Two Years Later

 

The scene on Thanksgiving Day, 2014, was not much different than most; turkey roasting in the oven, fixings for the big feast in various stages of preparation, and the head chef busily attending to it all. Bedecked in t-shirt, yoga pants and flip-flops, HM had just sat down at the kitchen island for a brief reprieve from her tasks. The roar of the snowblower could be heard as her husband was removing the eight inches of wet snow from the night before out of the driveway. A very typical New England setting for this special annual occasion celebrated each fourth Thursday in November… until HM spotted groceries in her back yard.

Peering intently out the sliding glass door, the portal to which entrance to the back yard deck is gained; Su saw what appeared to be a doe just inside the woods line. “Cole, (HM’s son) get me the binoculars, there’s a deer out back,” she excitedly demanded. Peering through the lens not only confirmed a deer, but also a much larger companion that bore head gear. Now you need to understand, in HM’s world it’s not necessarily as much about bragging rights as it is about getting the largest amount of food possible. You might say she wants the biggest bang for her buck (pun intended). And what transpired next can only be, well, providential.

 

The Flip Flop Shuffle

 

HM whispered to Cole “Go get my hunting coat and hat.” As he does she wonders, “Why am I whispering, we’re inside.” In the meantime, with one eye on the deer, Su manages to load her stainless steel, lever-action .357, don her hunting coat and hat over her kitchen garb, yoga pants and flip flops – quite a fashion statement if you like the country-girl look.

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Slowly, ever so slowly, HM pulled the glass slider open enough to walk onto the snow-crusted deck. The deer are still there as she begins her ten-foot stalk across the deck. The deer never even look up as she shuffles along carefully placing each flip-flopped step. At this point you may be wondering if flip-flops are the way to go in order to disguise your footfall. I personally would not advocate for that selection of footwear to hunt deer, due to several obvious reasons. And please don’t be fooled, not to take anything away from Su’s stealth and stalking abilities, the real asset to remaining undetected was the noise from the snowblower in the front of the house.

 

                  Moment of Truth                   

 

Reaching the far rail, HM waits for a good shot opportunity. And yes, believe it or not these deer still are completely unaware of the fact that such danger now lurks close by. As old Flintlock would opine, “In hunting, the critical moment is not when you first see game, but when game gives you the best chance.” The doe begins to get restless and takes a few dainty steps directly away from the waiting huntress. The buck, which until now really had not offered a shot turns to face his female companion. Not wanting to take a Texas heart shot, as HM explained to me, she, with her iron-sighted .357 Marlin, placed the bead center-of-mass on the back of the buck’s neck and fired off-hand from 48–yards distance.

 

Bedlam Ensues

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Before the echo of the shot could be heard in the front yard, the buck collapsed upon impact. Cole yells, “You got him!” HM, measurably excited yells, “Go tell daddy I just shot a buck!” Not wanting to take her eye off the prize, and not really sure what to expect next, Su waited for Big Daddy to appear before moving. As all stories should end, but seldom do, the buck never again moved. The huntress quickly donned proper footwear for snow and walked down beside the Big Daddy to claim her first ever deer.

 

A Thanksgiving to Remember

 

A day set aside each year to remember and reflect upon all the blessings we have been bestowed with from our Creator was a wise decision by Abraham Lincoln when he proclaimed such a National holiday. And ordinarily in this part of the Union it is a day that hunters go afield in the morning, while parades and football dominate the afternoon following a meal that takes way too long to prepare only to be eaten far too quickly and usually to excess.

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But for this particular Thanksgiving Day, HM, my hunting partner’s wife, made her mark on deer hunting history by shooting her first ever whitetail, a 3 ½ -year old, 8 point that tipped the scales at 180 pounds. And although no one could ever prove this, coincidentally enough, the buck fell and died in the exact spot where two years earlier HM had stood, shot and missed that 1 ½ -year old fork horn…could this be him?

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© 2014 R.G. Bernier Nature Photography – All rights reserved.

 

 

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Posted in: Whitetail Deer