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1.) grandpawrichard - 04/15/2015
Cat and Mouse game with a Monarch of the woods

A few years ago, while bow hunting for Blacktail deer, I became entangled in a cat and mouse game with an old Monarch of the woods. He was the biggest Blacktail deer I had ever seen in my neck of the woods.

His rack was massive and looked to be at least 24 inches wide and approximately the same height. He was an old guy with a huge body, the size of his neck dwarfed all the younger bucks and he was becoming so grey colored that he almost looked like a ghost.

The first time I saw him I could not believe my eyes! He was sparing with a younger buck and he easily won the contest. I was so flabbergasted that I totally forgot to draw my bow and take an easy shot at him!

For the next 4 years that old monarch and I played a game of cat and mouse. He would allow me to see him for fleeting moments, but he would never give me a clear and equitable shot at him.

I would be slowly and quietly following his tracks. Then suddenly I would feel his presence. Slowly and carefully I would stop and start to scan the woods around me. My eyes would spot him looking through the thick buck brush. He would be looking straight at me for a matter of seconds and then like a silent flash he would be gone.

That fine old gentleman of the woods taught me an awful lot about deer hunting, stealth in the woods and how to use natural cover to conceal ones self. He was a master!

Finally one day; luck was on my side and I turned the tables on him. I had slipped into the woods 3 hours before daybreak and I hid in a perfect natural blind. My blind was an old Cedar tree that had limbs hanging clear to the ground. I crawled in towards the center of the tree. That ambush spot was perfect! I was out of the wind and rain; plus I was absolutely hidden from the monarch’s view.

My natural blind was an easy 10 yards form the well- worn trail of the old buck.

I settled in under the tree, my three- legged hunting stool allowed me a comfortable seat as I leaned against the tree trunk waiting for daylight to arrive.

As I had figured, just after daybreak I heard a small twig break and then I smelled my prey coming. The old gentleman came cautiously out of the woods to cross the trail and reenter the woods. As he got to the middle of trail he paused to eat some clover that was growing there.

My heart was pounding as I came to full draw with my bow. My sights were automatically placed on his kill zone and I was about to loose my arrow that would end his life, but gain me a trophy.

At that moment of truth, something happened to change the course of the events that were about to happen. The old monarch raised his head as he was chewing the clover. I could then see that my prey was so old that all his teeth were worn off at the gum line.

Then, a gust of wind pushed his scent towards me. That poor old deer smelled so bad that I wanted to throw up. He smelled like he was already dead. I surmised that he was already dying, so if I let my arrow fly, it would be a mercy killing.

I just could not take his life! I knew that the way he smelled meant that his meat would be inedible and all that I would net would be a trophy rack. That thought brought back all of the training that my Dad and my Uncle taught me so many years ago. They taught me that if “You Kill it, you eat it. Nothing Goes To Waste!” I could not go against that lesson, nor could justify taking such a magnificent, old monarch out of the gene pool!

So, with bow at full draw I yelled out “Lucky!” That deer jumped like he had just been stung by a swarm of angry bees. In less than a heartbeat he was off the trail and into the brush.

I remained under the tree for about 5 more hours in hopes that I would be able to ambush a younger buck. A few hours later, as I sat there reliving the earlier events; I spotted the old monarch. His head was poking through the brush. He was quietly scanning the area and trying to figure out where the critter was that had scared him so badly.

During the remainder of the season I ran across the old monarch several times, but I never hunted him again. Sometime that year, probably during the winter; my old friend must have passed away because I never saw him again.

A couple of years later, just before the early archery season started I spotted a set of twin bucks that must have been sired by the old monarch. Their racks were massive, their bodies were huge and they had the same savvy that the old buck had. They were masters of concealment and as quick as silent flashes. I am in hopes that they were indeed off spring of my old friend and teacher, The Old Monarch.

Sadly for me, the property that they live in was sold and I lost the right to hunt there, but I still have many fine memories of some wonderful hunts and the duel of wits with such a gentle giant.

Written by,

Richard M. ( Dick) Raymond Jr.

© 2007 Richard M. (Dick) Raymond Jr.