After overcoming major disappointment with the missed Sika stag, we (my brother, son, and I) decided it was lunchtime. Our destination was the usual…Cindy’s. If anyone is familiar with the Cambridge, MD area, Cindy’s embodies all that is good in a local diner. The food is fantastic, the wait staff makes you feel at home, and the prices are fair. Couple this with the ambiance of fellow Outdoorsmen spinning their proverbial yarns and anyone can see the subtle pleasures of eating at such an establishment. While eating, my son had to endure some gentle ribbing from his Uncle and I, if only to encourage him to re-gather himself for the remaining time on the farm. My son understood that there was entirely too much hunting left to wallow in the misery of the past.
Returning from lunch, Noah and I decided to sit the same stand as the morning. Maybe the stag would make a return visit. But the evening was truly…uneventful to say the least. There was always tomorrow.
The following morning found the two of us huddled together in the 2 man stand again. I mean, why not. We had seen some good movement the preceding morning and felt confident we would see some action. Sure enough, around the same time we saw movement the morning before, we had a Sika doe walk directly under the stand. So once again, I’m waiting for the BANG and a fallen trophy but…nothing…again. The doe moved from 15 yards to 30 yards then to 55 yards and eventually moved across the field and out of sight. I had to ask “Why didn’t you shoot?” His response was “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to harvest her or not”. I certainly couldn’t argue that thought. He has been taught to cherish the connection between predator and prey and that harvesting (never liked the term ‘killing’) any game shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s a bond between a hunter and the hunted that goes back well before Europeans stepped foot on this continent. My only reply to him was “I applaud your dedication and support your decision, but she would have been good eating”. Well, we at least had one more afternoon to make it happen and I felt it was time for a scenery change.
After consulting with my brother, we decided to make a play in a ground blind across the field from where we had spotted deer movement the previous evening. We knew there was at least one shooter that had been seen chasing does right before dusk. We swapped our 870 for my brother’s custom .308 to increase our shooting distance. After getting set-up, there was nothing more to do than wait and hope. Several does began to filter out into the field. Four to be exact. We watched them intently, hoping there was a buck not too far away. And as luck would have it, there was. One hour before dusk, a nice 8pt Whitetail buck stepped out and immediately began chasing does. Noah had to be patient and wait for the perfect opportunity. The buck seemed to always be behind one of his harem. I reminded Noah that he needed to wait and let the buck clear before shooting. Eventually the buck moved ahead of the does by at least half a bodies length, plenty for Noah.
The first shot rang out…miss. We had ranged the deer at 215 yards, no easy poke even with the more than capable .308 in hand. The shot was high. Calmly, Noah chambered another round. Shot two rang out…another miss. Again, Noah slide another round in the chamber. But after two shots, the buck had tried his best to hide behind one of the does. This provided Noah the perfect opportunity to regain his composer and collect himself for his third and FINAL shot. My brother had only given us three rounds, so this one had to count or we were done. After clearing the does again, the buck was in position once more. Noah went through his breathing techniques and focused all his attention on that third shot. This one had to be the one…the third shot rang out…and with that third shot; my son, my 13 year old son finally had his…Redemption!