The Old AuSable Fly Shop Fishing Report
When the weather turns cold and the woods silent, my world slows and all thoughts turn to deer hunting. There is only one pursuit in Northern Michigan during the last two weeks of November—it’s white-tail season.
An event so important and steeped in tradition that many businesses shutter the windows for a few days. It is so embroidered in the fabric of our culture that even our schools shut down in honor of the opening day. I take pride in our community—one that prioritizes the outdoors, self-reliance, as well as time with friends and family. Hunting epitomizes it all.
When the sun creeps into the clouds and frosted forests and fields begin to glow in a rising light, the world is full of hope and possibility. I dream visions of magically appearing bucks—heavy framed with bristling manes and swollen necks. I see them standing still in the corner of an opening—haloed in steam from running hot.
A bent over golden rod or oddly bent pine branch often decoy my low light vision and garner too much attention until the maturing day betrays the charlatans. Hunters look for parts of deer and not just the whole animal. Horizontal, broken saplings are all deer backs until they’re not.
But sometimes it happens. There’s movement. There’s a deer.
And then there is no time for long thought. Moments are filled with a tense, relaxed focus. Practice and experience make movements smooth, fast and correct. It’s not about killing, exactly. I take no joy in a deer dying. It’s something different. It’s the reason my dog points and housecats catch mice. It’s instinct.
After the shot, blood beats into my ears. I usually start coughing and take deep breaths, and get anxious I’ve made a clean shot.
It’s best when they fall on the spot.
But, most bust for the brush, and so, first blood is everything. Experienced hunters pick up the bullet-dislodged tuft of hair for a shot quality clue and look at the color of the blood for another indicator. Then it’s, hopefully, as simple as following the spoor trail shortly and directly to your trophy.
I hope you all find yours.