Since today is opening day of Missouri’s firearms deer season, I though I’d post an image that encapsulates my typical deer hunting experience.

Yep, if I saw a buck at all, this was what I got, a brief glimpse as he made his escape into cover. I’m not kidding—I hunted for more than fifteen years without killing a buck, though I did get a couple of antlerless deer. In fact, I only ever got one decent shot at a buck with antlers and I blew it completely. In my defense, I had a bad case of Buck Fever and it’s hard to shoot while you’re shaking and hyperventilating! I am undoubtedly the worst deer hunter of all time, but somehow, that doesn’t really bother me much anymore.

This small 8-pointer was on my pond bank just before dark a couple of weeks ago. The deer that live here close to the house are generally pretty tame. They’re used to me and the dogs being in the yard all the time, and other than Grady occasionally making a short, half-hearted chase after one (and me trying to take photos), they’re completely unmolested. But bucks are more wary than does and youngsters and they become even more skittish as the breeding season approaches, though they can also become careless at times too. Actually, “distracted” may be a more accurate word than “careless.” This buck did not put up with me trying to slip onto the deck for a photo. I had about a two second window to get the camera on him, focus and shoot and I missed. Not by much, but a miss all the same. Still, I kinda like the image. You can feel the deer in motion, the rush to escape. I just with it was his other end that I almost got in focus. Oy vey.

I’ve been watching this little buck all summer and he was much tamer earlier in the year. Back in the first week of June, I was in the yard photographing birds, when he calmly walked out of the trees and onto the pond bank.

Yes, those are ticks making a bloody mess on his neck. I try to find something about all creatures to appreciate, but I simply, absolutely hate ticks and that was true before I had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever this summer. But I digress.

With me in full view less than a hundred yards away, he walked across the pond bank and made himself comfortable in the shade of the large cedar that I keep thinking of cutting.

Placing the dumpster between us to block his view, I slowly crept closer and got within 75-100 feet of where he was lying, the pond between us.

I took a few photos and then slipped away, still not disturbing him enough to make him react. I looked from the kitchen window an hour or so later, and he was still there.

I took this photo in early August, when I came home from work to find the buck, antlers much more developed, standing in the yard. As I drove closer, he simply walked out of the grass and into the trees. I drove the truck into the yard, turning about to get a proper angle for photos and he just stood there and looked at me.

After a few minutes, he started browsing, eating leaves off of a small sapling and paying me very little mind. After I took a few photos, I backed the truck out of the yard, into the driveway and pulled around back to park. Once I got in the house and calmed the dogs down (they’re always very happy to see me!), I checked out the window and the buck was nowhere to be seen, so I let the dogs into the yard. That’s right, I’m the one who let the dogs out.

I saw him a few other times throughout the summer, often enough to feel that I know him, that he’s my deer. I just hope he makes it through deer season. Gook luck, little buddy. Hope to see you in December.

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