By Spencer Roe
It was a cold Alabama morning, and being in the woods felt like a group of bullies was staring me down before handing out the beating of a lifetime. In other words, it was a feeling a hunter never forgets.
I could almost feel the beady eyes of a pack of coyotes watching as I made my way to my treestand in pitch black darkness.
A sigh of relief came when shades of orange leaked through the pines as the sun rose to thaw the world.
Suddenly I heard the sound of a fox squirrel running behind my stand. That thing scared the you-know-what out of me.
Not long afterward, I caught movement from the corner of my eye and slowly turned to see a most unique looking animal. Possum, I muttered to myself.
I was disappointed it wasn't a deer instead of a big rat rummaging through the woods looking for something to eat.
A couple of hours passed when a small doe stepped out of the safety of the woods, peered up and down the field, then acting as if she didn't have a care in the world.
Shooter, I said to myself. In three or four years.
I don't know why, but I was tickled when I said it.
I was glad I wouldn't be getting shut out, and would at least be on the board with this doe. So I prepared for a shot, but I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket: NEW TEXT MESSAGE.
It was from my hunting partner and high school baseball coach. His message read: IM COMING OUT.
I decided to pass on the doe and slowly unzipped my backpack to pull out my blaze orange cap. I unloaded my Savage 7mm rifle and stood, trying to stretch circulation back into my legs.
The doe spooked, flagged and headed back to the safety of the pines as I heard the sound of the gas-powered buggy coming toward me.
I descended the tree and awaited my camo limo.
Suddenly, it sounded like a train coming through the woods. About 15 or 20 brown bodies stampeded toward me as I scrambled to cycle a round into my rifle.
I dropped to a knee and whistled. Well, I tried to whistle, but with all the excitement and frozen lips, I couldn't.
I didn't know what to do, so I resorted to doing the most obvious thing. I screamed, Stop!
Three does and a buck froze as I settled the crosshairs on the buck's shoulder and slowly squeezed the trigger. I honestly didn't care if it was a spike or 3-point. It was venison.
With a teeth-chattering blast from my shoulder cannon, the buck disappeared from my scope. It was nowhere to be seen. I knew I'd hit it, but I debated what to do next. Should I wait for Coach, who was only minutes away? Or should I go ahead and look for blood? I decided to wait.
It was probably five minutes, but it felt like an hour before I saw his buggy heading my way.
Coach wore a look on his face, which could be described as half happy and half frustrated.
"Did you see all those deer I jumped?" he asked.
I was shocked. I figured he would have heard the blast over the engine of the ATV. I told him the story and he excitedly slapped me on the back, which scared the dickens out of me.
"What'd you shoot?" Coach asked, grinning.
All I could reply was, a deer.
"Well, I hope so!" he replied. "Where did you hit him?"
Right where I needed to, I joked.
Coach threw up his hands like a touchdown signal.
I told him the story in detail, even about the possum. I don't know why I included that but I wanted to relate anything that might help us recover my buck.
After I told him the story we put our gear in the buggy and struck out over the soft dirt, amazed at how broken up the ground was from the deer scattering.
Then Coach said two great words every hunter wants to hear when they are trailing a deer. "Got blood."
We followed the blood trail for about 30 yards up a game trail when I heard the next three words every hunter wants to hear when trailing a wounded deer. "There's your deer!"
I saw a white belly and a matching set of shiny antlers.
Coach high-fived me. "A 10-pointer!"
We stood and admired my buck as if it was a Cape buffalo or a grizzly bear.
With a pat on the back, I finally heard Coach say the words every hunter dreads. "Okay, start dragging!"