OUTDOORS COLUMN: Coping with 'failure' after an animal gets away

Bob Kornegay's weekly outdoors column

Bob Kornegay

Bob Kornegay

He got away again. You’ve actually seen him four times and he keeps defeating you. Such a nice buck, too. Good spread, great mass, long tines. You’ve tried everything. You’ve patterned him. You’ve scouted him meticulously. You know him. You can read him like a book, but still he eludes you.

Bless your heart. You failed, didn’t you? Your hunt was unsuccessful.


Hmm. What do you mean?

No, never mind. I know and I understand. You’re my kind of deer hunter, one of those with whom I do not lose patience. One who still understands that every hunt, regardless of outcome, has undeniable fail-safes, events and circumstances that automatically compensate for “failure.” I like your attitude, pal. I really do.

The creek bottom was pretty at daybreak this morning, wasn’t it? The mist rose from the stream like slow smoke. The wood ducks pitched in as they always do. Again you enjoyed their alighting on the water and then trooping out single-file to gather acorns. That’s important to you, huh?

You chuckled over that weird growth on the trunk of that big hickory, didn’t you? You know, the one that looks like a man’s …well, you know. I’ve seen it, too. It is kinda funny. I have photos.

I know what you mean, buddy. Those barred owls are noisy as all get-out. Reckon what they’re talking about that early every morning? And that big old red-tailed hawk. Did he show up? Ever notice how the squirrels get really, really quiet whenever he’s around?

Foxes? No, can’t recall seeing any from that stand. How many this morning? Two? Reds or grays?

Say, have you paid much attention to that big live oak, the one just to the left of your stand over there close to that honeysuckle thicket? I was wondering if there’s still a coon den in that hollow up there near the crown. Oh, a beehive now? Well, I’ll be. Wonder where that fat old boar coon went after he got “evicted.”

Yes, as a matter of fact I have seen those little birds before. They’re Carolina chickadees. Tame little guys, aren’t they? Did you ever have one drop down and just sit there next to you, cocking his head and looking at you like he’s trying to figure out what you are? Surprising what happens in the woods after we learn to sit quietly and be still.

Hey, you reckon some of these fail-safe hunt savers might one day help you bag that big buck you’re after? I mean, for instance, what if one day you notice the owls aren’t quite as talkative or the squirrels go suddenly silent, even when the hawk isn’t there? Or suppose one of those chickadees stops looking at you and starts eyeballing some movement in the underbrush that you never would have noticed otherwise. And what about that doe who’s blowing and stamping her front foot at you? What if she all of a sudden becomes mighty interested in something else she hears or smells? Wouldn’t it be funny if one of these “distractions” all your buddies picks on you about turns out to be the very thing that puts you in the right place at the right time? That could happen, you know.

I know, I know. That would be a nice bonus, not to mention a good-sized piece of poetic justice. But you don’t really care about that, do you? No, you don’t. I can tell.

It’s all the same to you, isn’t it? Like you said earlier, a fella gets treated to a lot of sights and sounds when he’s on a deer stand, even when the deer aren’t moving. Knowing how to appreciate those sights and sounds is all that really counts.

Makes me feel good to know someone like you.

Did I mention awhile back that you’re my kind of deer hunter?

Indeed you are.