Deer season diary: Another year, another deer … for someone

A couple of years ago, I learned that an acquaintance was spreading a rumor about me.

Snow in the woods of Otis, but the only tracks are mine. (BDN photo by John Holyoke)

Snow in the woods of Otis, but the only tracks are mine. (BDN photo by John Holyoke)

“You know,” he told one of my snoops, “I think John is probably a better deer hunter than he lets on. In fact, I think he has decided to intentionally avoid filling his tag each year. His columns will be funnier if he keeps telling readers that he doesn’t know what he’s doing. And he knows that.”

Vicious rumor, that one.

I only wish I could say it’s true.

Alas, my yearly travails are not intentionally fruitless. I’d love to shoot a deer one of these years. Heck, I’d love to see a deer one of these years.

And truthfully, I probably do know a little bit more about hunting than I share.

A little bit. But I am (as I often point out) still a work in progress. And here, in diary form, is an accounting of the “progress” that I made during this most-recent deer season.

Red stops by for another visit. (BDN photo by John Holyoke)

Red stops by for another visit. (BDN photo by John Holyoke)

Deer Season Diary, Post 1: It’s opening day again! What a day! I’m so excited! I spent the day in that familiar forest in Otis, tucked into that always-comfy tree stand that I’m sure will eventually produce a buck. No deer today, but good news: My friend, Red the Squirrel, is back! What a playful imp he is. He climbed my tree, threw bark at me again, and even posed for a photo! Man, this is going to be a great season! I’m sure of it!

Deer Season Diary, Post 2: I’ve been out a few more days since I last checked in, and I’m still optimistic. The rut is nearly upon us, after all, and I’m going to spend even more time in the woods in the future. I’ve been spending some time in my ground blind lately, mostly because I’ve developed a bit of a back ailment, and my butt and one leg are numb. But now I’m truly comfortable. Well, kind of comfortable. Actually, it’s been very cold lately, and I don’t seem to be as willing to deal with the elements as I used to be. Note to self: I’ve got to do something about that. Also, I’ve been getting bored and sleepy. I think I might have dozed off a couple of times today. I hope no deer walked by while I was snoring.

Deer Season Diary, Post 3: Snow on the ground! That will surely make the difference. That, and the fact that the deer are surely mating by now, will pave the way to my inevitable success. I’m sure of it! But man, it’s cold in that ground blind. And when I walked in today, I found that it had collapsed, and it took me about 15 minutes to dig it out of the snowdrift. And my chair was soaked by melted snow, so I ended up sitting in a chair puddle most of the afternoon. Other than that, it was a perfect day. Or something like that.

Deer Season Diary, Post 4: Forgot to mention that the snowfall allowed me to scope out the area and see if any deer had been through since the storm. Bad news: Only one lone deer had walked anywhere near my blind in three days. Uh-oh. Bad karma. Rethinking the location of the blind.

Deer Season Diary, Post 5: Man, is it cold. Froze half to death today, and started walking around just to warm up. I looked for a new place to put the blind, but didn’t find a promising spot. Maybe the deer will walk past my original spot … if I’m lucky.

Deer Season Diary, Post 6: Bored beyond belief. Even Red the Squirrel refuses to visit. Apparently he and the deer are off partying someplace else. Broke down and took my Kindle in to the blind. Read most of a book. Saw nothing wild. Nothing. But I guess I made some sort of progress. On the book, I mean.

Deer Season Diary, Post 7: Is the season over yet? I hunt in a ghost town. Nothing walks past me. I hear the sound of footsteps in the woods, but find no tracks. I’m losing my mind. On the bright side, my buddy, Chris, let me use his little heater, so it was much warmer in the blind today. And I read some more.

Deer Season Diary, Post 8: It snowed again. No tracks to be seen. My blind collapsed again. No deer. Frustrated. If it weren’t for Chris’s heater, I’d have quit already.

Deer Season Diary, Post 9: Today was Thanksgiving. Thankfully, we got a blizzard last night. Texted Chris early this morning and convinced him that the travel to our deer woods would likely be too hazardous, and we should rethink. He agreed. I went back to bed. Best day of “hunting” so far this year: Had a dream that I saw two bucks.

Deer Season Diary, Post 10: Last day of the season. Sat for awhile, then decided to pack up and head out. Had difficulty breaking down the ground blind, and after wrestling with it for 10 minutes, managed to destroy two of the supporting poles. Nice. Loaded up all the gear, plodded through 12 inches of snow, and made it to the car without collapsing. Note to self: Need to get in better shape for next year. If, that is, I decide to hunt again next year. This year was amazingly frustrating. Maybe I ought to take up another hobby. Civil War reenactment? Quilting? Stamp-collecting? Hmm.

Deer Season Diary, Post 11: Deer season ended three days ago. Well, it did for me. Turns out some folks are still hunting during black powder season. Among them: Hunting buddy Pete Warner. He just bought a muzzleloader over the weekend, and put it to good use today, bagging a spike-horn buck. Good for Pete! Could have been me! Should have been me! I obviously quit too soon this year. Next year, things will be different. I’ll hunt harder. Smarter. I’ll get a deer. I know I will. I know I will.

Editor’s note: BDN Visuals Editor Brian Feulner and I have been trying to convince John to try hunting with a muzzleloader this season. So far, he’s resisted, but we’re still trying to send him out and try it. What do you think? Help us convince him!

Until next year …

Follow me on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke



John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.