It’s what you do with what you got. . . sings
Walt Disney and Joel Chandler Harris’ much loved Uncle Remus, and
it fits nicely in my story of how a loaf of sourdough bread turned into
a shot at a nice eating buck on a November day a few years ago.
My daughter, Patty, at the time was well into
sourdough bread. There was always a loaf or two around, and I was enjoying
it vastly, especially warm with butter and a dollop or two of homemade
jam with a little glass of milk. Only trouble was that it tended to cause
belching from deep in the tummy--a no-no for one ensconced in a deer blind
with the hope that a corn-fed buck would pop out any second.
I hadn’t been seeing a lot of deer, though, and
it (the warm bread) smelled so good as it wafted across the kitchen that
I joined the club an hour or so before I went to my deer stand for an afternoon
I should have known it. In the afternoon a sort
of low grumble started building in a full tummy, but I was able to let
the sourdough pressure creep out of my lips without sounding like a thunder-boomer
in August. However, the burps started growing more forceful by late
afternoon, and it became obvious that I had to stifle the burps or call
it a deer hunt day.
The next time I felt a burp coming on I thought
to myself that I should try to turn it (those little rascals) into grunts
like a buck deer makes when he is happy with the way life is going. Actually,
I think it may be tied somehow to interloper bucks infringing upon another
buck’s territory, including does (they are monogamous, you know.)
Every time a burp decided to be free, I would
turn it into a deer grunt. All was happy as a marriage bell, I thought,
but nothing happened. No buck showed. Still, I kept the vigil, watching
mostly the long, narrow willow swale that filled a long drainage ditch
(a few inches of water and overflowed to a thickly covered hillside that
ran easterly). It was a fun day, though--lots of hawks, birds and other
critters were keeping me entertained.
Then, as the sun parked on the horizon in the
west, the head of an eight-pointer came out of the willows, as only a cautious
buck can emerge from thick cover. I was in business. This deer wasn’t just
going some place, as many deer do as the day ebbs and dies--he was out
looking for the interloper who dared to invade his territory and was brazen
enough to challenge him with a grunt. I was in the sourdough business,
perched at the top of a ladder stand against a fork of a big walnut tree.
Another trick that I rely heavily on in deer hunting
is called rattling by most deer hunters. It is very simple, too. Just save
the antlers of your next buck,
and cut them apart. Rejoin the antlers for easy carrying (around your neck
on a cord so you will always have them handy) and use them sparingly to
simulate two bucks jousting when things are slow. I try to use the two
half racks no more often that once or twice an hour. Rattling can be overdone,
The thing you have to remember in rattling--or
any other deer-hunting tactic--is that deer (like other wild critters)
are on “slow time”--the slower the better.
Both rubs and scrapes are thought by some to convey
much information to other deer. I do not know about that. But it is always
interesting to be aware of them because they often tell the hunter that
there are--or have been--bucks about these areas. But for the most part
(bad days excluded) these areas hold the interest of deer at night--when
hunting is a no-no. Still, they have their place in the overall deer-hunting
scenario. Rubs are made on plants in removing velvet
on antlers, usually long before the season, and scrapes are made with
the feet in the earth--a sort of calling card left for does
any time the rut is going.