The opening of deer season was only a few hours away. It was pitch black outside and the wind was roaring through the oaks up here on Lightnin’ Ridge. I hadn’t slept well. I would make up for it when I got to the woods.
My daughter had come to spend the night, looking forward to hunting with me. We ate breakfast and filled our pockets with ammo and our packs with snacks and water, and then headed for the woods. I walked Christy to the tree stand I put up for her a couple of years ago, saw to it she had her harness on and her rifle loaded, and declined to join her. I left her for another spot where I could lean up against an oak tree and nap.
There are thousands of oak trees all over Missouri and Arkansas that I have leaned up against, waiting for a deer or a turkey. A good oak without rocks at its base is hard to find. It took me several years to come up with the idea of bringing along a cushion, but that doesn’t seem like the kind of thing a grizzled old outdoorsman should do.
I tried several oak trees that November morning. A doe and a yearling came by and woke me up at my first spot, but I didn’t see any hat-rack bucks, so I went to another place to nap a little. Two more does came by at a trot. I may shoot a doe later, but not on the day I’m hunting with my daughter. I am just there on such a day to help her take care of her deer when she gets one.
In the past four years, Christy has killed four two-year-old fork-horned bucks, each with one broken antler. I was still leaning up against an oak tree at eleven that morning, wondering if she would ever shoot. Before I left her, I laughingly reminded her to take a two-year-old buck with one broken antler. I didn’t know it, but she had seen seven does and yearlings before a buck came by. And she just couldn’t shoot a doe with its half-grown youngster tagging along behind it!
Shortly before noon, an antlered deer walked up through the woods, and she cocked her 30-30 Winchester carbine and dropped him in his tracks, waking me up immediately.
When I got there, and I know this is going to be hard to believe, she was standing over her buck. And I swear folks, this is the truth… as I am holding my right hand up and my left hand over my heart while I type this… it was a young fork-horned buck with about two inches broken off the end of one antler.
Larry Dablemont currently writes a weekly newspaper column for 35 newspapers, publishes the Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal, has written seven books, and can be heard on KWTO AM 560 Radio Springfield each Sunday morning on The Larry Dablemont Outdoor Program. He and his wife reside in Bolivar, Missouri. You can read some of Larry’s current and older posts at his blog, Outdoors with Larry Dablemont, and visit his Lightnin’ Ridge Facebook page.