50 degrees that day. Rifle season had opened back up. L*, our new bowhunting freind who hunts the other side of the river went in with us on that Sunday for one last chance. We all had 2 tags to fill. 3 of us, 6 tags, bow and rifles and one last miserable chance.
Jason and L figured since they hadn't gotten one yet they would take their rifles. They told me I should just take one with me. I refused. I absolutely must get my deer with my bow before I hunt with a gun. I'm not proud, just primitive.
L* let me use his stand across the river as they would use their rifles on the opposite side. This stand was pretty far but once I got up there and set up, it was beautiful. I was instantly reminded of the reason I praise God the entire time I'm hunting. The sun was shining, it was warm, no wind. I hadn't even brought my coat. I only wore my underarmour and fleece camo over that. I had on two pairs of pants, and two pairs of socks. I did bring my gloves because if it's simply below room temperature my hands are icicles. Is that how you spell icicles? Anyways...the sun fluttered through the trees and river flowing subtly behind made for a nice setting. I saw no squirrels, no cardinals, no finches, no hawks, rabbits, racoons or turkeys. I had a clear view of the horizon all around me as I sat atop the trees. I focused on the clearing directly in front of me. The deer trails clearly led to this area surrounded by brush and many deer bedrooms lay about the high grass.
After awhile through the bare trees into the woods, I caught a glimpse of white tail. Bouncing, bobbling along. She stopped. Looked about, then continued on her way. She was in a hurry and she was about 60 yards away. Too far away for an arrow shot...but not for a rifle. CRAP, why didn't I bring the rifle? Don't say "I told you so." I've heard it enough.
After some time, it started to get a little breezy, I heard no gun shots. I would love to take a deer with my bow on the last day while they sat with rifles. As I wondered about the weather, a GINORMOUS FLOCK of birds flew over me and perched on the branches above me. It was raining bird-sh*t, and I was in the middle of the storm. The sound of all the birds peirced my eardrums, almost scary. I pushed my back up against the tree, looked down as far as I could, pulled my shirt up over the back of my neck and pulled my hat down as far as I could. Bird poop down my shirt was something I just wasn't going to let ruin this hunt. Never in my life have I had the opportunity to hear something so profound: bird poop droplets firing 10,000 per second on every square inch of surface all around me. Then, the birds all stopped chirping at the same time. It was sooooooo erie. But the poop was still falling. Now it sounded like a heavy rainshower. I prayed I would not get pegged. All at once the birds flew away, continuing to relieve themselves all the way out of the woods. Then it was quiet once again.
All of a sudden a wind came out of the north so strong and so cold it took my breath away. I was facing north. I was not prepared for this. I didn't think the temperature would drop this soon. At about 5:15 I was so frozen I didn't even know if I could climb down my stand, I wanted to call the boys and have someone come and get me but my fingers were so cold and my body was shaking so bad I couldn't even work my phone. (I later found out that they gave up early and actually tried to call me to see if I wanted them to come out and get me.....can you believe that?)
My middle finger on my hand was completely numb. But a weird numb. My legs were shaking, my arms were shaking and I was clenching my jaw to keep my teeth from chattering. I kept telling myself "just 10 more minutes."
Right before I was about to dial the number with my tongue (not really, but it was that cold), I spotted movement in the brush leading to the clearing. It was taking it's time. The nice, beautiful, large rub on one of the trees there told me this was where I would see him. And I did. His antlers came out first, then his body. He was about 30 yards away, maybe 25. I could take that shot. But probably not if I was shaking as bad as I was. I had plenty of time to position myself. Snot and tears running down my face, I clipped my release and got ready to pull and every muscle started tremmoring. I couldn't do it. The darn cold had set in and I was so mad. I had done this how many times? I had prepared and prepared some more, yet failed myself this time. I had hunted in much colder weather than this....but I had worn the appropriate clothing. I had done this in the freezing rain, snow, 50 mph wind, 15 degree weather, 85 degree weather, mosquito haven, underneath a freakin' wasps nest and everything else and now...I failed myself.
The buck took off in the opposite direction casually, to look for food I presume, because he never caught on to me being there. Then it was pitch black. And I just prayed I would live long enough to tell about this last hunt of the season. Then I saw headlights! They came for me! If they hadn't come for me, I would have had to walk back the entire way and probably not have been able to make it even half way. The excitedness of headlights was the only thing that got me down from the stand.
When I got to the truck it was about 5:45.
Jason: We came back at like 5:15, said forget it, it's too cold. Guess you must have seen somethin'?
Kendra: MHGMGH MGHFM GVEFM FFF
Kendra: (i just stuck my hand out insinuating for him to pull my glove off. )
There it was, my middle finger, stark white, half dead, numb, unable to feel and move. All my other fingers were bright red, hurting and cold. The warmth in the truck felt good but only for a minute. Then when my body thawed out enough for me to talk I told Jason that I thought I was going to die, and that now, I thought I was going to throw up. My fingers were starting to hurt really bad. Was this hyperthermia? Frost bite? I don't know. All I know is that for the next 15 minutes my hands were in pain so bad that I leaned out the window dry heaving from pain. The last time "pain" made me throw up was when I was giving birth....and this was that bad. I was moaning and whining and holding my hands above my head because the circulation coming back was just too painful. I'm sure I was probably thrashing my body around the cab of the truck like a maniac in between each heave. It was awful. And my poor middle finger, well, about 20 minutes later it finally got some color back. But since then, none of my fingers have felt the same and my middle finger feels a little crippled. I think it's kind of permanantly damaged...good thing it's on my left hand.
Jason and L didn't get their deer. They didn't even see anything. So I did one up them on that. And that was the last hunt for deer season.
And after all that, I figure out that since I didn't check my hunting regs first, it would have been illegal for me to shoot that 8-pointer even if I did have a gun...because the extended season was for antlerless only.
You've got to be kidding me.
So the last hunt ended with 3 cold people and 6 unfilled tags. Good luck next year.
TURKEY SEASON HERE WE COME!