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A Cold Cup of Coffee

WernerBy Alan Werner

-- We live beside my wife's parents and together we have about 7 acres, 4 1/2 to 5 acres are wooded. Our neighbors have an additional 3 acres of hardwoods. The woodlot is basically rectangular in shape and a small creek meanders through the center of it. The hill on the backside rises quickly 8 to 10 feet and is bordered by a 17-acre field that is only used to grow straw for the cattle.
    
I occasionally see deer in the evenings and even shot a doe on New Year's Eve last year, but sightings are still relatively rare. I have put a feeder up about 75 yards from my back porch, and I saw does three or four times over the summer coming to eat at dusk.
    
On Sunday evening, Nov. 5, 2006, I was getting ready to leave for choir practice and stepped out on the porch to take a quick look before climbing into the car. I was quite shocked to see a really nice buck feeding on the clover, 45 yards away in the edge of the field. Blackpowder season had opened the day before. However, we do not have Sunday hunting in North Carolina, so I had to be content to just watch.
    
The following Thursday, I watched a spike buck climb up out of the ravine and stop at the corn before continuing down the edge of the woods just off the field. I put the scope on him to watch but was not going to shoot.
    
Twice over the next three weeks I saw does feeding on the corn but not a sign of my Sunday evening buck. A week had gone by with no deer sightings and the weather geeks were calling for the coldest morning temperatures in 8 years, I decided to forgo 4 hours of 14-degree temperatures in a deer stand to hunt in my backyard.

After a bowl of cereal, I dressed and eased open the back door at 6:30 a.m., about 20 minutes before legal shooting light. I had my Browning .270 in my lap and a travel mug of hot coffee at my feet. The very light breeze was out of the west and directly in my face, as I settled in to watch and listen.
    
After an hour I had seen nothing and my coffee cup was almost empty and cold. I was preparing go in for a quick refill and started to prop my gun against the corner of the deck when I saw a deer trotting across the field from my left and gradually getting closer to the woods. I could tell that it was a buck but was not able to determine how many points there were. I just knew the deer had a big body. When the buck finally stopped it was directly behind my father-in-law's old satellite dish. You know the huge ones that look like spaceships.

I kept my scope on the edge of the dish waiting for the buck to step out. It finally moved into the woods on a well-worn trail about 5 yards behind the feeder. I eased off the safety and rested my finger on the trigger as the buck cautiously made its way around the trees. The buck paused momentarily, allowing me to settle the crosshairs behind his shoulder and squeeze the trigger.
    
My rifle cracked the morning silence and echoed throughout the ravine as the buck collapsed in its tracks. I watched through the scope until I was sure it wasn't getting up. I went into the house to tell my wife and 5-year-old son my exciting news.
    
My wife was awake because of the gunshot and my son was snuggled in bed with her. I woke him up, and he wanted to get dressed to go outside with me. I bundled him up and we went to the garage to get the four-wheeler. It was not real easy to get started in the cold air, but we finally got it going and crossed the creek and headed for the woods.
    
As we approached the downed deer, we began to see the swollen neck and smell the tarsal glands. The buck had five points on the left side and only three on the right, due to the lack of a brow tine. I do not think it was broken off, it just never grew one. The inside spread was just shy of 15 inches and the main beams curved around to within 4 inches of touching each other in the front. The buck had tree bark ground into its antlers and were sticky with pine sap.
     
We snapped a couple of pictures and got the buck ready to go. I made a phone call to a friend at church to offer his family the meat from the deer. He had lost his job just weeks before, so I new they could use the meat. They were very thankful, and it made me realize how something that seems like a small gesture to us can mean so much to someone else.
    
The backyard buck is the biggest one I have harvested to this point. You just never know what is walking around the small woodlots of suburbia.

Alan Werner
Monroe, North Carolina

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