As I reflect on the whitetail season opener in NC, I think of a small 40 acre ecosystem that is full of life. I was in the tree an hour and half before sunrise taking in the sounds of the diffent birds and one owl. All the while, enjoying the peace the stars and darkness were bringing me this cool September morning.
As the sun rose, I was greeted at first light with 3 raccoons eating in front of me. Within 2 minutes, the first one left to go seek the safety of his home. As the 2nd one walked off to follow, a coyote popped out of no where running towards me down the trail. Once he hit the fallen tree that blocked the trail, where the raccoon had taken a sharp right turn on, he immediately stopped in his tracks and followed the scent trail in pursuit. While I don't know if Mr. Coyote found breakfast, in my mind, the morning hunt was already a success.
5 more minutes had passed and the third raccoon was still hanging behind the tree in front of me. He suddenly perked up, and I got excited thinking a deer may be making his or her way down the trail. A few short seconds went by, and an otter made his way down the trail heading towards the creek, spooking off the raccoon. At the time, I wasn't even sure what species (the otter) was called. I asked my hunting buddy, Joey, who seems to be my encyclopedia for any animal I'm not familiar with, and he informed me it was an otter. He told me that when he was a kid, trapping with his father, they would be excited to see an otter in the trap, as their hide brought $100 each.
Getting back to the hunt, at 7:15am the first doe came down the trail to the right of me walking straight for me. As I went to click my bow release to the string, she stopped dead in her tracks. She looked right at me in the tree, and I knew instantly it was over. She looked me over for about 30 seconds and decided something wasn't right. She quickly turned back around and headed back to safety.
From 7:30 to about 9:20, the hunt turned into a planning session for Mission Outside's Camp. For me, the ability to think clearly, uniterruped, and outside of the box seems to be at it's highest during a morning hunt. This brainstorming session quickly came to an end a the sight of a doe with 2 fawns strolling down the same trail as the doe earlier. This time, the thought of grabbing my bow never crossed my mind. Personally, I have a rule of leaving all does with spotted fawns alone. Even though, the fawns are perfectly capable of living at this point without their mom, I just don't have the heart to do it. They continued on down the trail to their likely bedding spot for the day.
As the hunt came to a close, I was fired up for the amount of animals I saw living their life undisturbed. It's refreshing to hunt in a place with so much ecosystem diversity, where animals can thrive.
The season opener ended without any deer coming home with me, but the hunt itself was a major success. I hope to enjoy more experiences like this in the future, and I look forward to introducing my daughter, son, and many others to these type of adventures.
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