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A Season to Remember

BeachBy Corey Beach

-- After an exhausting and unproductive 2007 hunting season, I was more than ready for my hunting blues to turn into backstrap on the grill. Since I don’t have my own private land to hunt and manage, I'm usually forced to hunt public land in Louisiana.

I was surprised by a phone call from my dad, who lives out of state. Daddy explained that one of his lifelong best friends, who lives less than five miles from me, was awaiting my phone call. After I hung up the phone, I could not control my emotions.

Through tears, I managed to execute a few judo chops and breathe a sigh of relief. I'd just received an invite to hunt on some prime property. The stage was set for what I hoped would be a dream season.

The days turned to weeks, and I had the worst luck with weather and work. Every opportunity to hunt brought more obstacles. If it wasn’t raining, the wind was gusting at 20 mph. Or it was way too hot.

A couple weeks into the season, though, I caught a break. On Dec. 13, two days after a snow storm (imagine that … in Louisiana) and two days before the start of a very rainy week, I was sitting in a ground blind deep in the freezing woods. About an hour after daylight, I glimpsed the first deer I’d seen all season.

The doe looked wonderful in the crosshairs of my Nikon scope. The only obstacle was a barbwire fence, the property’s boundary. Five feet stood in the way of me and a very Merry Christmas. I had to watch her walk away, the whole while wondering, “Why me?”

The morning of Dec. 22 was a cloudy and cozy 28 degrees. A 10-mph wind was cutting through four layers of clothing when I spotted a monster of a cull buck walking toward me. It stopped to graze, offering a perfect broadside shot at more than 240 yards. Heaven forbid that it should be easy.

With my heart pounding and mind racing, I raised my Remington .270 pump and took aim. The deer just looked at me in a taunting fashion, as if to say, “Is that all you’ve got?” Funny how they know these things.

I missed. Twice. No dice.

After an emergency trip to the shooting range, I fixed the problem. My scope had somehow been knocked awry.

After working a 12-hour shift on Jan. 14, I suited up and headed to the woods with undying determination. At 11 a.m., I spotted some does running through the woods. I hit my grunt call once, and the deer changed course.

Each doe that stepped into my shooting lane was bigger than the previous one, five of them. I picked the largest.

That’s when I saw the buck, about 220 yards out there. The 8-pointer’s tines glistened in the sunlight. I managed to calm myself, said a quick prayer and did NOT miss.

I made one last evening hunt with my friends before the season ended. Because I arrived at my stand early, I had plenty of time to reflect on my adventures to that point. With shooting light fading, I heard a stick break. A beautiful 6-pointer was creeping along a mere 30 yards from my stand.

A well placed lung shot turned it into venison and 2008 into my dream season.

-- Corey Beach

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