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Rainy day bucks.

Larry awoke to the rhythm of steady rain falling on the old metal roof--the same roof his grandfather and father had installed on the small Pennsylvania hunting cabin more than 50 years earlier. Larry could not remember how many coats of paint he had brushed on that old roof over the years, but he knew it was too many to count.

The rain continued its steady beat. He hated hunting in the rain. Larry warmed toast on the top of the wood stove. The toast was tossed on his plate with two eggs over easy and three strips of fresh bacon cooked to perfection in a cast iron skillet. Sitting at the table eating his breakfast, Larry looked up at the large main-frame 8-pointer with a pair of matching drop tines. It was his buck. A sideways grin crossed his face and he knew his fate. Rain or no rain, he would be hunting today.

His family and friends had nicknamed the buck "The Rainy Day Buck."

Over breakfast he thought back to the day he shot the buck. Four years earlier, Larry was in camp bowhunting during the rut. The first two days were unseasonably warm and deer movement had been slow. Larry spent the sunny middays scouting the mountain ridge and bog on the opposite side of the creek that marked their property boundary. The other side of the creek was state land, the dreaded public hunting property. The creek normally ran too deep to wade across, keeping Larry and his group on their side of the creek and the public land hunters on their side.

The drought that began early in the summer had continued and the stream was a mere trickle of its previous depth. The bog on the other side of the creek had always interested Larry. He almost made it across before the water topped over his boots. With a grin he continued. If it were as cold as it normally was this time of the year, his wet feet would have been an issue. However, with the sun out and the temperatures reaching the high 60s, he was not concerned.

Immediately he began to find heavy buck sign. Rubs shined in the sunlight, marking a trail through the now dry bog. Several scrapes marked the trail that ran along the top of the stream bank. He soon found a tree to his liking. With the right wind, he felt confident with the stand.

Making his way back across the creek and up the hill to the cabin, he changed into dry boots and socks before having a quick lunch and taking a nap. That afternoon he headed out to the same stand location he had hunted in the morning. As with the morning, he was alone. No deer passed by his setup.


The next morning Larry thought hard about hunting his new spot across the creek. But the westerly wind was wrong, so he stayed on his side of the creek. The Indian summer continued. After a long all-day sit in his stand, he had seen only a pair of does.

Just before fading off to sleep that night, he thought, Tomorrow, I 'm going across the creek and hunting the bog.

Walking out onto the porch in the early morning darkness, Larry checked the wind. It came from the east. That was perfect for his stand across the creek, but he also knew that it meant weather could be coming. Looking up in the sky, he saw the stars and forgot about the east wind bringing rain with it.

This time, he picked his footing more carefully across the creek and arrived with dry feet at the maple tree he had marked two days earlier. Quietly he climbed the maple. Half an hour before shooting light, he sat ready. The wind held true from the east. By sunrise, the recently arrived cloud cover masked the bright sunlight. He felt an unfamiliar chill in the air. The morning was cooler than on the previous days.

In the gray dawn, four does stopped briefly to feed on acorns from the white oak 20 yards away. The morning shadows grew and the does faded off into the bog. By 10 a.m., the rain had begun. It rained lightly at first, but then the raindrops gained in number and size. Larry hated hunting in the rain. If it had been raining before he left the cabin, he probably would have stayed in camp. However, because he was already in his stand, he pulled his collar up and talked himself into staying the day. By noon, he could see the creek rising and he knew wet feet awaited his return trip to camp.

Feeling the dampness soaking through his clothes, he thought, I'll give it to 2 o 'clock. If I don 't see anything by then, I 'm heading back.

No noise gave up his presence. The buck just appeared. Larry turned to his left and saw the buck standing over a scrape. Slowly he reached out for his bow. The buck wore a rack larger than Larry had ever seen walking in the woods. The buck pawed at the ground. Larry turned his focus from the antlers and to the buck's front shoulder.

Larry drew his bow, found his anchor point and placed the 20-yard pin behind the buck's shoulder. The buck continued to paw at the ground. Then it raised its head, reached for an overhead branch and began rubbing its forehead. With the buck now stretched out, Larry took a solid aim and released his arrow.

The creek water was knee deep. Larry dragged the buck across the creek. "I hate hunting in the rain," he said aloud to himself with a grin.

Larry finished his breakfast listening to the rain falling on the metal roof. Guess there is no way I can't hunt today, he thought.
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Title Annotation:Trails & Tails
Author:Aughenbaugh, Andy
Publication:North American Whitetail
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2009
Previous Article:North American Whitetail Hall Of Fame.
Next Article:Forsaking the truth.

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