Hunting Deer Put Meat in the Freezer

A reader recalls a surprising whitetail deer hunting incident near his childhood tree house.

| September/October 2014

Hunting deer for food

An illustration of a deer hunter being surrounded by a trio of deer.

Illustration by Lyn Wellsand

Although I have many fond memories of hunting deer in my home state of Michigan, I’d have to say the season of 1973 was the most extraordinary of them all.

I had gone to a get-together with other hunters from the area the night before opening day of deer season, and I didn’t get home until the very early morning hours. Thinking I probably wouldn’t be able to get myself up in time to go hunting, I decided not to go to bed, but to instead head on out to the woods.

It was snowing, so my plan was to head for a big cottonwood tree that sat on the bank of a large drainage ditch. When we were kids, my sister and I built a tree house there. Some years before, a storm had blown the tree over, but one of the walls of the tree house was still nailed to the tree. That, I decided, would shelter me from the snow.

When I got there, I was happy to find a nice dry bed of leaves under the wall of the old tree house. I ducked under the wall and found a place to sit, then situated myself into a comfortable position and prepared to wait for daylight.

Some time later, I opened my eyes to the bright rays of the sun beating down on me. I checked my watch; it was 9 a.m. — I had slept through the morning’s hunt! I stood and stretched, then leaned against the tree, unable to believe it. A moment later I heard movement behind me. To my surprise, I saw a doe. I grabbed my rifle, just as the doe walked out of sight.

I looked beyond the other side of the ditch, and in a small clearing stood a beautiful 8-point whitetail buck. I could barely breathe as excitement rushed over me. I raised the rifle to my shoulder and squeezed off a shot.

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