Morning Glory

By Michael Richmond 

What does it mean to “earn it” while pursuing wild game? The mule deer hunter would give a different answer than the elk hunter who would give a different answer than the whitetail hunter. Now, stack all the preparations of those hunters before their preferred season and add on the details of the state, terrain, elevation, month, weapon, and so on. I didn’t do any of that; I was engaged in my morning constitutional in my suburban upstate NY home when I barely had time to realize what was standing outside my bathroom window. I threw on my pants, hurried to my bow and tip-toed out my front door to fill my 2023 archery tag.

The capital district of NY surprisingly has some deer that compete with the nation in class. We aren’t Ohio or any of the well known whitetail destinations in size and definitely not in density. But if you are lucky to hunt land that has food and bedding or have the passion to improve your habitat with food and bedding, you can consistently kill 150-plus-inch deer annually. This isn’t that.

The same buck had come in the morning before, but I had left my bow in my truck from hunting recently. That day I ran out to my truck, got my bow and by the time I could draw the only opportunity was a 60 yard Texas heart shot that I wasn’t confident in taking, especially with the possibility of not-so-supportive neighbors watching from their windows, which are yards from where I drew.

Slow seasons can speed up in the blink of an eye, and this was one of those seasons. Living minutes outside of Albany, my neighborhood is known for a trophy class of whitetail DNA. My house and permission properties are directly in the middle of a highly competitive zone with every antic imaginable used by trespassers, road hunters, and illegal deer jackers. Frustration after frustration on private land encourages me to go deeper and deeper into some public properties that no one bothers hunting. Kayaking a mile pre-sunrise to “hang’n hunt” is a normal day in my world; not to avoid hunters, but to navigate remote public bedding areas surrounded by private land I don’t have access to any other way.

But this morning, while enjoying a moment of silence on my throne, that same buck from the previous day was in a low spot on my property, in front of my skinning shed, 20 yards from my front steps. I decided this opportunity was too good not to take. My bow was within arms reach from the day before and I got to my front door as quickly as I could. I quietly unlocked it and took two steps outside in my underwear, drew back and released an arrow 20 yards into this basket 8-pointer standing broadside only to watch him fall 80 yards into the woods behind my house.

Did I deserve this deer? No, we don’t deserve anything. Did I work for this deer? Absolutely not. Does it take away from how excited my friends and family were? Who cares; find whatever meaning you want in hunting.

From the FE Films Archive

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