By Glenn Rollins
Glenn Rollins, right, cut a dying friend's hay all summer, but the fall brought him and son Brian another special harvest.
-- In the winter of 2004, my good friend Steve Hales was diagnosed with cancer. Steve owned a beautiful cattle farm in Charles County, Md. Before he started his treatment, he asked me to cut his summer hay.
All summer, I was cutting his hay while he was at the hospital receiving cancer treatments. He would come home on weekends and try to do work around the farm, but he would usually get sick because he was trying to do too much. September rolled around and bow season started. I hunted other property, only seeing small bucks and does. This went on until about Oct. 1, when Steve told me to come down and hunt his place in a spot where he had seen a big buck for the last couple of years.
I went down one evening to put up my stand and start bowhunting, but I didn't notice any deer. Steve seemed to be doing well until he went back for a checkup and they found new cancer in his neck and a spot on his lung. Knowing he was not going to be able to do anything after doctors removed part of his lung, he asked me about cutting his fall hay.
On Thursday, Oct. 20, our early muzzleloader season started, so I took off from work to hunt that morning and bale the hay I had cut on Sunday. Then I went and got in the stand with hopes of seeing that big buck, but I didn't. That afternoon, Steve insisted on helping me bale the last hay of the year, and when we finished, he was really run down.
Afterward, I left to go take my 13-year-old son, Brian, hunting on another farm where he shot a nice doe. The next evening after work, it was raining so we went to an uncle's place where I had a box blind. Six does came into a food plot I had planted, so we picked two and shot both at the same time.
Saturday was waterfowl youth day, so I took my son and a couple of other kids goose hunting in lieu of going deer hunting. The following week, it was doe-only with the muzzleloader, so on Thursday evening I went down to Steve's to bowhunt. I met his daughter coming down the road. She stopped me to let me know that Steve had passed away. I didn't know what to do, but I figured my friend would tell me to go hunting, so I went and sat in my stand. Unfortunately, I never saw a deer.
The next Saturday morning, I went back to Steve's to hunt, looked up to heaven and asked my friend to bring me a nice buck, but I only saw does. I even had two bed down about 70 yards from my stand. That afternoon I decided to take Brian back to Steve's to thin out some does. We sat in a box blind on the edge of a picked cornfield that had been planted with wheat. Although we both carried muzzleloaders, I took my bow just in case.
About 5:00 or 5:30, 10 does came out in the field and all moved off except four. I told Brian to take the doe on his side, and I would take a big doe in the front of the blind. The one in front saw me move and snorted, causing all the deer to run out of the field. But before the big doe could move, I shot her. We sat in the blind another half hour before I happened to look over my shoulder and spot a buck coming out of the woods.
The buck worked a scrape on the edge and started working its way around the field, so I grabbed my bow and got ready. I had already checked the yardage in a spot in the field. I started to draw and hit the top of the blind with my elbow and the buck jumped. The buck turned toward the woods, but I was able to draw again, settle my 30-yard pin on the shoulder and release my arrow. I heard a loud thud and as it started to run off the buck stumbled forward, so I thought I had made a good shot.
It was going to be cold that night and it was getting dark so I decided to just leave the deer for the next morning. That night I had a hard time trying to sleep, and I was up at 2 a.m., watching a hunting video. Then at 4:00, I finally lay back down for a couple of hours. Finally, I woke my wife and son to go find my deer. We found a good trail and followed it in the woods. It started to thin out to a spot here and there, but we stuck with it. Finally my son spotted antlers in the brown grass in the swamp, and I ran to him to find the biggest deer I have ever taken - a nice 9-pointer, 19 1/4 inches wide.
I looked up to Heaven and thanked Steve for the gift. After some snapshots, I took him by Steve's house to show his wife what her husband had brought me. This buck now hangs on my wall and I get to relive the story of Steve and his gift to me.
Bel Alton, Maryland
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