Every November in our part of the state of Missouri… the hills are alive with the sound of … gunshots! It's deer season. As a young boy my dad taught me how to hunt deer. We put a lot of venison on the table throughout winter; it was a rite of passage to manhood, or so it seemed to me.
Every year we would prepare a month in advance so we would be ready for that first (always cold) morning of deer season. We woke up long before sunrise and found our way in the dark to a stand; where we would sit in silence until deer passed nearby. My problem was sitting completely still after the sun came up. I roamed the woods looking for tracks, Dad called me his tracker. I have happened upon many a deer in my lifetime. Most of the time we would scare each other and the deer would take off before I could shoot.
One day I was walking along a crooked path in tall willows when… there I was face to face with a big doe! We had looked up at each other at the same time and we both froze. My gun was at my side pointing down. We stared at each other knowing that at the slightest movement, it would be over. It’s the last day of the season and I really wanted this doe. So I'm thinking about how I'm I going to get my gun in place. I stood there for twenty minutes in that trail with that doe and she never moved her eyes off me so I could move my gun. I finally gave in and said "Go on, get out of here" and she turned and ran off the same way she came.
But that's not the deer hunting story I wanted to tell you about this time. It's about Human Dogs.
After the morning hunt, Dad and friends would drive around looking for other promising places to hunt. They would look for timber-lined creeks or small timbers. We found a good tree line to run up in Amish Country where we knew the farmers and decided to try it out. My cousin Mike and I were the young, designated Human Dogs; in that were to run the deer out of the timber and directly into the line of fire. The timber was about one mile long so they dropped us off at the start of the trees and told us to wait for fifteen minutes and start driving the woods and scare any deer about toward them.
Now my cousin Mike was older than I and had done this before. We started walking through the woods about fifty feet away from each other. We had gotten almost to the end of the trees when I saw six deer lying at the edge of the woods near me. I signaled Mike and put up six fingers.
As he reached me I whispered to him that we should scare them out by yelling because we don't know exactly where the four men were in front of us. My concern was that if we shoot at them ourselves that we may hit someone. This turned out to not be a concern of the four adults.
Also, we did not know that on the other side of that open field were four more Amish men. We decided to shoot in the air and yell to scare the deer…and then we waited… about one minute and later the woods were singing with high powered rifle bullets. We heard them flying by us and we hit the ground with face down.
I felt like I needed to dig a hole… l couldn’t get low enough… I heard many bullets zip by… just inches above my head. After about forty shots there was a pause and so we rose up… only to hit the dirt again… they had reloaded and started shooting once again! When it was finally all over we walked out of the woods to find a lot of excited people and they told us their version of this tale.
All said and done, we somehow survived without a scratch and no deer… for anyone. The deer were so scared with all the hunters and noise that they had moved and jumped way too fast for anyone to hit them.
I almost cried… I told them I would never be a Human Dog again for anyone. Should someone ask you to be their Human Dog; you tell them to go jump in a lake!
Hunter safety is a must, NEVER hunt with fools.