I had 45 minutes to hunt. Turns out, I only needed 20.

If it had been anyone else, I would have hated on them for making it look so easy. And to think I almost didn't go...

The wife and I had agreed to squeeze in a deer hunt after work Tuesday afternoon. I knew we'd be short on time, especially after the obligatory arguments with the two-year-old, but that was fine. Our plan was to hunt the wooded creek corridor behind her parents' house while her folks babysat.

By the time we finally got the kid corralled, dressed, into the car, and up to grandma's, we were seriously short on time. It was after 4:30 by the time we got the ground blind deployed at the top of the hill overlooking the creek bottom. Shooting hours ended at 5:15.

Undeterred, we settled into our chairs, side by side like an old - albeit orange-clad - married couple on a front porch. It was nice just having some quiet time with wifey for a change. Until this year, I had always gone out of town for deer season, leaving her to hold the fort in my absence. Having her join me in the deer blind was a nice change.

Quietly, we surveyed the creek bottom and hillside beyond. I scanned back and forth with my binoculars for a bit. A short time in to the sit, I started feeling the calm that comes from sitting quietly in the woods. The racket we had made deploying the blind had long since subsided and the woods were returning to their normal, natural cadence. And we were part of it. Integrated into the fabric of that place. As much a part of the setting as the leaves that blanketed the ground and the birds that chirped overhead.

I don't exactly know how to describe that feeling. It's like falling into a rhythm, or settling in to a comfortable seat a short ways into a long ride. There's a calm that befalls you when you settle in to a long(ish) sit in the woods. It's comforting. Meditative. Relaxing. Especially if you have little concern for whether or not your hunt is successful during such an outing - which was my attitude going in to this one. I was just there to enjoy an evening sit with my wife by my side. Any success beyond that would simply be a bonus.

There's a certain rhythm to the woods and those that spend enough time out in them know the feeling of settling in to that rhythm. After the noise of getting into your spot subsides, you almost feel the quiet settling in. And you begin to settle in with it. In my case that evening, I put down my binoculars and relaxed deeply into my chair as that quiet settled in. I let the solitude creep in and I allowed myself to just be a part of it.

There is nothing more relaxing, nothing more calming than a quiet sit in the woods. Hunting, for me, is just a good excuse to get out and have those experiences. Many veteran hunters will agree that the the harvest is secondary (or even less) to those kinds of transcendental experiences.

So there I sat, basking in the solitude and near-silence of the woods when I detected a faint noise. Focusing my attention, I noticed it was the tell-tale crunching of leaves down in the creek bottom.

"There's one," I whispered to wifey and nodded my head in the direction of the movement I had just seen. A gray ghost appeared in the fading light, walking parallel to the creek. It never ceases to amaze me how deer can just seem to materialize out of thin air like that.

It took a couple more steps and I got a better look at it. "It's a buck," I added, raising my gun slowly. He was completely oblivious to our presence on the hilltop 60+ yards above. He had probably walked that same route hundreds, maybe thousands of times, completely undisturbed.

I got the gun to my shoulder and found him in my scope. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw wifey bring her hands to her ears.

Two more steps and he disappeared behind a group of trees. The woods were pretty thick between he and I but I had already identified a number of shooting lanes. I leaned forward, resting my lead elbow on my knee for support.

Deep breath. He appeared from behind the trees. I clicked off the safety.

"You got your ears covered?" I whispered.

No response. I took that as a yes.

One more step and my aim point fell perfectly in line with a little tree. Seriously!?

I leaned right. No shot. Leaned left. Still no. Another deep breath. Just wait...

I turned the dial on my scope to increase the magnification. He began to move again. My crosshairs found the shoulder, then the dark line where the shoulder blade ends. That's the spot. Ease back on the trigger...

Remember that silence and serenity I mentioned earlier? Few things shatter it more than the noise a 12 gauge makes as it blasts a slug through it at high velocity.

The shot felt good. I don't remember pumping the gun, but I know I did. I've had that Remington 870 since 5th grade. God knows how many rounds I've put through it. Working its action doesn't require conscious thought.

I also never lost my sight picture. The deer took off immediately, but I followed him the few steps it took him to disappear behind another group of trees. I tracked his path to the other side, but he never arrived. I held there for a second, waiting for a follow up shot. Not seeing him, I jumped to my feet and exited the blind, moving left for a better angle to see where he went.

He was down. Keeping my crosshairs on him, I moved forward some. He didn't move. Then, a bit excitedly, I ran down the hill. He was done for. The shot had hit exactly where I wanted. A clean kill. He hadn't run maybe ten steps.

Wifey caught up to me, nearly as excited as I was. High fives were exchanged, and hunter and harvest were posed for a few photos. It was 4:58.

We had him hauled up to the top of the hill just as full dark settled in. Huffing and puffing (I swear that buck weighed 700 pounds!), we walked up to the house, shared stories and had a quick dinner. He was hanging in my shed by 7:00.

That buck provided dinner for us the next night. It was undoubtedly one of the best meals we've had in a very long time. And he will certainly provide many more. And though his rack won't earn me a listing in any record book, the way he made that short hunt with my wife so memorable is worth more than any head on a wall.

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