The next time I saw him, it was late September. I was running a little late getting out of work, and I as hurried to my truck the dark sky was threatening rain. I'd been watching the radar all day and I figured it wouldn't rain until sometime around 9pm. When I arrived at the forrest service gate, the wind had picked up considerably. It was close to 5pm and I still had a good long walk into the ridge I wanted to hunt. I hesitated, and almost drove home, but something beckoned me onward. I settled into my climbing stand about 45 minutes later and surveyed the ridge. There was a deer trail, that looked more like it had been made by cattle, just 15 yards below me. The sound of dropping white oaks was all around me. This ridge came off of the hilltop pines where the buck had been spending his time this summer. It was on the far opposite side from where we had previously met. The wind was good for this side, and with the acorns, the dropping temps, and some luck, maybe I'd find him again. I was startled back to reality by the sound of an acorn smacking the dry leaves. I reached into my pack and pulled on my vest, as the wind was cold and it was already starting to spit rain. That's when I saw her. A doe had stepped into an opening in the trees about 75 yards away. She was acting nervous, and looking around frantically. The wind was strong on my right shoulder so I was pretty sure it wasn't me that had alerted her. I reached for my bow and put slight tension on the string. Suddenly she bolted, running right at my position. She came by me in a whirlwind of dark hair, leaves, and terror. I was frozen in disbelief as I watched the doe the miss a small ditch, trip and fly end over end. She rolled right to her feet, came up digging hard and took off around the ridge. My heart was pounding in my ears so loudly I could scarcely hear the wind blowing. I was trying to process what had just happened when he showed up. He was trotting fast from the same direction she had come. He came down the trail, under me, and stopped at 12 yards quartering away. In one motion, I came to full draw and released. The next image I recall was that big buck streaking down the hill with way too much arrow protruding from his shoulder. I had hit him high, and square in the shoulder blade. This was the first deer I had ever shot with a traditional bow. This was my first season. This was the biggest buck I had ever drawn on. Thoughts were pouring into my mind like water into the rising creek below me. It was raining now. "Fantastic," I whispered. I lowered my bow and descended the tree. I looked for an hour in the rain, knowing full well the shot was far from lethal, but unwilling to accept it. I gathered my things, and started the long, dark walk out.
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