By Chris Gilley
-- It was about 20 degrees as I arrived at my box stand 45 minutes before daylight on Nov. 9, 2003. Despite the chill in the air, I wanted to be there early since the rut was on in northeast Texas’ Cass County.
When I got to the stand, I discovered that the latch was frozen, so I dug through my backpack and found a lighter to perform a quick-thaw. Next I organized my water bottle, grunt call, binoculars and other items. When I was finished, I turned off my light to wait in the dark.
That’s when I heard a scratching sound. At first I thought it was something outside the stand, but then I realize the noise was inside the blind ... with me.
I quickly retrieved my light back and began to look. Imagining any number of scary critters, my light finally settled on the corner of my stand, where sits a small corner table with a piece of carpet behind it. That’s where the noise was coming from. My next move was to fling open the door so whatever it was could run out.
My first thought was a mouse, so I pulled the carpet out a little. To my surprise, it was a flying squirrel. The squirrel ran up the wall as I backed into the opposite corner, out of the way. The animal quickly jumped to the arm of the chair, and I nearly jumped out the window. Finally, to my great relief, it then scurried out the door.
I thought the episode was over and heaved a big sigh of relief — but then I heard more movement. I shifted the carpet again, and out popped another squirrel. That one also ran up the wall, then completely around the stand and out the window on the other side. Meanwhile, I was trying not to make a new door as I scrambled to get away.
Finally, the stand was clean of critters. Daylight was approaching and I had a few minutes to sit down and regroup. At about 7 a.m., several does showed up at the feeder about 100 yards from the stand. The deer fed for about 30 minutes before a 5-point buck showed up. I had seen that buck several days and decided not to shoot it. It visited the feeder regularly, and it was early in the season — way too early to take the 5-pointer. All the deer left the feeder at about 8:15.
About an hour later, I was looking down a logging road from my stand when a doe come out of the woods about 120 yards out. The doe was on the move at a pretty good trot, and I thought there had to be a reason she was in such a rush. I scanned the woods, and all I saw was antlers coming through the brush. I raised my gun and pointed it out the window, silently begging the buck to stop so I could take a shot. But it was hot on the trail of the doe and trotted into the trees before I could even think of pulling the trigger.
I knew my only chance would be to take the buck as it crossed the logging road, which is only about 10 feet wide. I got ready, focusing on the spot where the doe had crossed. As soon as the old buck trotted into the clear, I let the .300 Savage roar.
The buck took off at a full run, and I didn’t know if I had hit it or not. I waited 20 minutes before getting out of my stand to look. As I got to the spot where the two deer had crossed, I couldn’t find any sign of a hit — no hair, blood or anything. I was about to get sick. I walked another 20 yards down the road and finally saw blood. I tracked the buck about 40 yards into the woods, and there he was. Of course I had to do a celebration dance before loading it on my ATV. I just hope there weren’t any squirrels watching.
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