The arrival of archery season and the coming firearm seasons always bring back memories of hunts and days gone by. Every once in a while you hear a story that is worth repeating and this one, as the best ones always are, is true. I don’t have a good enough imagination to make something like this up anyway.
Once upon a time, and in order to protect their identities and perhaps a teeny bit of self-respect, there were two hunters we shall heretofore refer to as Mutt and Jeff. Mutt had his buck, so he decided to team up with Jeff to try to help him score on a Pennsylvania whitetail buck. A plan was hatched for Jeff to stand on the ground while Mutt went up in his climbing stand to call, grunt, rattle and otherwise try to tempt a buck into bow range for Jeff. Why they both didn’t have treestands is a detail which we will never know.
Mutt, being the veteran, had some delightful doe-in-heat urine with which to embelish their ambush. A sprinkle here, a sprinkle there, and one of those white felt things that you soak in the urine hanging from a nearby branch completed the set up. Now I don’t know how many of you have ever smelled any of the various doe-in-heat concoctions that are on the market, but to put it plainly, the odor is pungent.
So the trap is set and Mutt gets about the business of calling in a rutting whitetail. Of course this is Pennsylvania and a hunter comes into view and sets up only 75 yards away.
“Let’s move,” says Jeff.
“No” was the whispered rely, “We’re all set up and we’re staying here.”
After things settled down, a buck came trotting in to check out Mutt’s grunting. Of course the buck walked right by the other hunter, who shot, missed, and scared the deer to kingdom come.
The misser got disgusted and left, leaving the woods to Mutt and Jeff. More grunting and rattling produced nothing and as the last minutes of hunting time were dwindling down, Mutt decided to come down out of the tree and join Jeff in the misty, fragrant air of the ground.
As Mutt was getting his treestand ready for the walk out, he heard a grunt.
“Listen!,” he said to Jeff, “there’s a buck coming!”
Mutt slowly drew his rattling horns and rattled. Now they could hear the buck grunting and the crunch of the leaves under his hooves as he walked toward them. Then silence.
Mutt tore into the ground and nearby bushes with the antlers, and the buck started coming in, out of view, but steadily crunching toward them. It was thick there, and the buck was nearly upon them. A couple more whacks with the antlers and Mutt froze.
Jeff was at the ready with the bow, the buck was nearly upon them. Suddenly the buck realized it was a trap and tore away from the scene, offering no shot. Jeff started spitting, hacking and coughing — all but vomiting.
“What in the heck is wrong with you?” asked Mutt.
Jeff, still gagging and spitting, said, “When you hit that branch the last time, that felt scent holder thing that was loaded with doe urine swung around and went right in my mouth!”
Jeff spit a trail the whole way back to the truck. On the way home, Mutt made the remark that he had never smelled breath that bad, and told Jeff to keep his mouth shut and crack the window. I’ve heard since that Jeff has developed a taste for hunting whitetails during the rut, I guess that’s one way of putting it.
Like I said, you can’t make stuff like this up.
Ken Maurer, Herndon, is a regular contributor to the outdoors page.