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Stay inside when deer season’s burning?

Micah HarperBy Micah Harper

-- I’m 27 years old, live in Benton, Ky., and work as a first mate for a barge line out of Missouri. I work 28 days on and 12 off. My fiancée and I have a newborn girl and 3- and 7-year-old sons. As you probably can imagine, my down time isn’t very "down."

I used to hunt a lot when I was younger, but not so much anymore. I just don’t have the time.

Saturday, Nov. 10, was Kentucky’s first day of gun season. The Tuesday before that, I got off my boat and went to the doctor. Turns out, I had walking pneumonia and severe bronchitis, and I was told to stay in bed.

Well, buck fever and time to spare combined to make me go against my doctor’s orders. I went hunting at 4:30 that Saturday morning, leaving my fiancée at home with our children.

I had just purchased a new climbing stand. I’d only tried it out in our back yard. I carried it and a video camera to shoot some footage to show my sons.

I walked about 1 ½ miles in the woods to a spot I’d found while bowhunting that had all the sign a hunter could want. It was near a swamp. I got my stand ready and scaled the tree, only to slide back down twice. I was getting a little upset at all the noise I was making.

Finally aloft, my backpack fell to the ground. I sat there for 10 minutes, debating whether to get it, and then down I went. After that, I figured I needed a better tree and moved about 20 yards closer to the swamp, which is where the deer spent the daylight hours.

Maybe 10 minutes after climbing a new tree, I spotted a massive buck – the kind I’ve been after for at least 11 years. It was about 60 yards away in some thick weeds. I caught only glimpses of it, never enough to take a shot with my borrowed rifle.

I grunted, and the deer acted as if it heard me. But it still walked away. It took more coaxing to convince it to turn my way. At 45 yards, the buck stopped and gave me a perfect broadside target. I shot. It ran 20 yards and fell.

I was so excited I had to call and wake up my fiancée. I dug out the video camera and started taping while I was walking up to the downed deer. The footage isn’t the best because I was also holding my gun at the ready in case the buck jumped up and ran.

I was also carrying the phone, shushing my fiancée as if she were standing beside me instead of back at the house. I was excited. I was shaking all over. The feeling was something I’d never felt before, and it was exhilarating.

My fiancée eventually joined me, dressed in full camo and ready to help me get my 10-pointer out of the woods. That was the first time she’d ever seen a deer field-dressed. She thought the smell was awful and unbearable.

Now remember: I still had walking pneumonia and severe bronchitis. And those were the least of my worries at that point because my blood sugar started dropping and I had an upset stomach. I started shaking all over and getting sick.

My fiancée tried dragging the buck by herself, but she could move it only a few feet. She then called four of our good friends to see if they would help. We were sitting on my tailgate, waiting for them, when the game warden came around. He was nice.

After our friends arrived, we all went on the long walk to get it. By the time we got the deer back to the truck, everyone was exhausted.

All the excitement has gotten my 3-year-old son and fiancée really into hunting. I can’t wait ’til I can take them and let them experience what I did that morning.

--Micah Harper

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