Ending the season with unfilled tags is not a failure, but not learning from your mistakes is. As I reflect on the past season, I am still trying to determine what mistakes, if any, I made. I am not talking about lazy mistakes, such as not paying attention at a critical time. I made plenty of those. I’m referring to strategic mistakes like interpreting sign wrong, moving too often, and hunting the same areas over and over to name a few.
Let me spare you the agony and sum up my last weekend of hunting like this – I went hunting, saw nothing, and came home.
Now let me tell you about the story of the wounded doe. After a morning of hunting on Saturday, I dropped my dad off at his house, and as I was pulling out of the driveway I noticed a doe standing broadside in the brush across the creek. So I did what any hunter would do; I put the truck in reverse.
Time is running out on the 2016 Vermont Muzzleloader season. My doe tag is still unfilled, something that has me walking around looking like an angry emoticon all day and feeling like an Angry Bird that wants to topple my son’s Lego creations. A doe tag should not be this hard to fill.
It’s not like I haven’t had chances. I’ve already written about the opening day fiasco (read that here), but as the week has progressed my luck has only gotten worse. Let me be clear here, I am not complaining at all. I’m crying. There, I’m glad that’s out in the open. Now we can be honest with each other.
Well, well, well. I finally saw some deer on Saturday. Eight of them to be exact – little ones, big ones, and even a buck – but I didn’t fire a single shot. Why? Because that’s the way my season is going, that’s why!
The morning started out well enough. Dad and I had a sweet plan in place for me to fill my muzzleloader doe tag that would allow me to be back to my truck by 7:30 with fresh venison. There is a drive we like to do that has worked a million times in the past. If the deer are in this particular small patch of woods, they have to run through a certain spot if they are pushed. Everything was perfect. There was a gentle breeze that was blowing from Dad to me, which would allow him to walk slowly in my direction and let the wind do the work for us.
Vermont rifle season ended yesterday and I wasn’t the only one that had thoughts running through my mind. My wife did too. I was able to glean a few of the thoughts she had shortly after the season ended to share with you. Her thoughts are italicized, semi-audible mumblings under her breath are in bold, and clearly audible statements are in all caps and bold.
“Should I hug him or give him space?”
“Why does he just stare at the wall with a blank look on his face?”
“Did he just hug his rifle?”
“He did. He just hugged his rifle. You have got to be kidding me.”
“Are those tears? OMG!”