Suburban Safari by Paul Bambara
There was little noise in the damp, dark, overcast morning except a pair or Great Horned owls in a hooting duel. A branch breaking caught my attention and a flicking tail drew my focus. At 80 yards, through my Swarovski binoculars, the light gathering ability and magnification showed a rack that needed no second look. The buck slowing moseyed up the hill straight to my tree stand. My normally calm demeanor was rattled, and I had to keep repeating over and over, “don’t stare at the rack, don’t stare at the rack”. At 20 yards broadside, with his vitals about to enter my shooting lane, he snapped to attention and stared intently in my direction. This actually gave me time to relax even more.
This was my 16th sit without releasing an arrow this season. I had yet to see a buck bigger than a spike, often ended the hunt without seeing a single deer. The one nice 8 I had on camera had disappeared on opening day, and other than a few new rubs, I had nothing good to go on. I had had a few does under my, but was always waiting for a buck on those days. When I was in a “fill the freezer mood”, no does came by. It is now the second season in a row here in southern New York without an acorn crop. This is causing all the deer to stay very tight to everybody’s house. In the wealthy suburbs of New York City, where I hunt, these are the best fed deer in the world, feasting on some of the most expensive landscaping money can buy.
On the morning of October 25th, I got dressed in my hunting clothes and went to kiss my wife goodbye. The overcast, windless mornings, combined with the lack of deer in the woods made me second guess that decision, and I decided to go load up on some delicious small mouth bass instead. She thought this was a great idea, fresh smallie being one of our favorite meals. I walked down the stairs, walked back up and said NO, I’m going hunting! She just laughed and that brings us to the beginning of the story.
This stand is in a travel corridor that funnels deer coming out of two McMansion sub-divisions. The buck came right out of someone’s back yard to me. He finally relaxed, put his head down, and stepped into my lane. My Matthew’s drew back silently and I watched the lumi-nock zip perfectly through both lungs sticking in the ground behind him. Big bucks are a different breed, and even double lunged, he still went 100 yards. There was no ground shrinkage when I walked up to him. At 155 points, he is about the top end our genetics and nutrition have to offer. Sure glad I didn’t go fish.