Excerpt from book “Six Kids, Four Months and One Camper”:
Erik somehow convinced me to go out hunting opening morning. Nuriel would watch Earen when he woke-up until I came back in. Erik had set-up a small pop-up blind on the edge of the woods behind the house for me. That way, I wouldn’t have to waste precious time walking far into the property. He would hunt in the back part of the property . . . with the cougar. We had set-up a new blind way back on the back 40 acres. It was on the edge of our property next to a field of corn — the perfect place to catch hungry deer. Seeing all the tracks, Erik was certain he’d catch at least one back there!
We both woke-up at 4:30am and donned our camo as quietly as possible so as not to wake the baby. Then by 4:45am we kissed and parted ways – Erik traveling down the two track road towards the hayfield and back 40, myself walking directly behind the house.
Now I had a choice of course. I could go around the first finger of woods and come around the back of it to my blind, or I could walk straight through it to my blind. I didn’t have a flashlight, but the soft glow of my slide phone helped a bit to watch for sticks that might trip me. It did not, however, help me see my way!
I was much too excited to take the extra few minutes to walk around the woods, so I just went right through them. I was so convinced that today would be my lucky day. I was going to shoot a deer! The blind was on several intersecting deer paths, so SOMETHING should walk past me.
I crept through the woods slowly and carefully. Holding my breath, trying my best to balance precariously on small logs as I came to water holes, unsure of how deep they might be despite my rubber muck boots. I thought I had finally found a pathway through the woods when I began to shiver violently.
Ear-piercing howls erupted just 50 feet away from me. My heart stopped beating and the blood drained out of my body. More eerie howls erupted on the other side of me.
Now I began to pick my way through the woods faster. The howls seemed to grow closer. They seemed to be following me. Would a coyote eat me? Sure I was bigger, but so were deer and they ate deer. I was more defenseless than a deer!
I pulled an arrow out of my quiver and held it in my hand ready to stab anything that might come close. I was almost out of the woods. I began to run! I tripped over a branch on the path and stumbled, catching myself before I could fall. I had to find my blind and fast! Maybe they wouldn’t eat me, at least not right off. Maybe they’d just attack me, wound me . . . then decide to eat me!
I finally cleared the woods and was out in the open field. But somehow I felt less safe, more exposed. I heard a growl in front of me and several loud “yips” and “yelps”. The blind, it must be here somewhere! I swung my pathetically glowing phone around trying to locate it. The problem was, it was camo. It blended right in!
The light from my phone caught an orange reflective glow. An eye! It was a coyote eye! I stopped dead in my tracks and held perfectly still. It was straight ahead. It must have been waiting for me near my blind, it must –
Oh. It was the orange reflective sticker on my deer blind. Some smart person had already had the same problem as me and thought to add a reflective sticker to the top to make the dumb thing easier to find! By this point I was no longer concerned with hunting deer, just more concerned about NOT being hunted by coyotes. I ripped the zipper open, dove into my blind and yanked it back shut again. Then I sat listening to grassy steps whispering around my blind. Or was that the wind? I couldn’t tell anymore. I sat huddled on my chair, perfectly still. So much for opening day. I was NOT about to open my blind’s windows in preparation for dawn so I could shoot a deer walking by.
I didn’t exactly know why I felt safer in the blind. Sure they couldn’t see me, but they could definitely still smell me! It would only take them 2 minutes to tear through the thin material and drag me out for breakfast.
After not hearing anything for 30 minutes, I was finally beginning to calm down. Birds began chirping and frogs croaking to life. Sure signs that dawn was on it’s way. Time to get ready for my deer! I carefully and quietly slid open 3 of the 4 zippered windows – enough to see and shoot from.
Suddenly I could hear branches breaking behind me and a loud snort. There was a deer in the woods behind me, but it was still too dark to see! I desperately prayed that it would hang out around me and wait for dawn. I knew it wouldn’t. By the time dawn began to slowly roll-in, I no longer heard the deer. By 7am it had been light for 30 minutes. I got a text from Erik “Bring the tractor, I shot a deer.”
I sighed. I probably wouldn’t get to shoot a deer. Ever.