By Sherman Shifflett
Even as Old Man Time continues to creep up on me, I still get excited about the first day of regular hunting season. This year, November 14, 2020, was no different. It was more difficult crawling out of the rack, and I was not quite as chipper, but I got on with the program. I’m 78.
Things would be different this year. My hunting buddy for the past 40+ years, Greg Barlow, and his son, Terrell, would hunt elsewhere, where they had seen a monster buck. I’m a creature of habit, and I have hunted opening day with Fox Run Hunt Club in eastern Louisa County since 1977, so opted to go there. It’s a 25-mile drive from my home near Cuckoo.
The most excitement I had all day occurred before I got to the club. Recent rains had flooded many roads in Louisa County and many roads and bridges were closed. I drove through fog most of the way, really bad in places. As I approached Holly Grove I had to cross a bridge. The fog was so bad I had to slow down to 20-25 mph. A vehicle coming across the bridge from the opposite direction blinked his lights. All of a sudden I was in water – there were no High Water signs, no blinking lights, no barriers. Later, I learned that the crest had passed on Friday. This was an unexpected second surge and water was over the bridge. I didn’t know how deep, but I knew rushing water was powerful. I didn’t panic. I continued driving slowly and thinking, “It is what it is.” The far end of the bridge drops a little and that concerned me. Thankfully, I made it through. A club member works for VDOT, and he told me things would be under control shortly.
At the staging area I could not get my 4-wheeler started. Hitched rides all day. The first drive was close, and I was the “back-stander.” Deer often circle around the driver and try to slip out the back door. The hounds jumped quickly and within minutes a doe almost ran over me. She saw me in the nick of time (10-12 yards) and it was comical watching her skid to a stop. It looked like her legs were going in a circular motion and she kicked up dirt, leaves and sticks. She did a U-turn and ran back towards the driver. A second doe crossed the path below me. Does were not legal in Louisa, but were legal in Hanover, where part of our lease is located. A small buck was taken down near the creek. A member shot at a monster buck, but never found blood or the deer. During the next few drives we harvested a few scrub bucks, but I did not see anything.
The final drive of the day we hunted what we call “The Creek.” It’s a narrow stretch of hardwoods along a creek, with huge tracts of planted pines on either side. It runs at least two miles on our lease. We lined the creek and cast out hounds from both ends simultaneously. I climbed into a tree stand on the east end. Shortly, a real dark doe ran past my stand. Couldn’t find horns. A few minutes later, two more deer came sashaying along the creek bank on my side, headed west. One decided to cross the creek about 60-70 yards away, and the other stopped behind my stand, about 15 yards away. She kept looking behind her. She moved on because a Walker hound was pursuing her.
Shots rang out above me. A young nimrod got his first deer, a scrub buck. Hounds were not chasing that deer. I’m always happy to see youngsters have success. Not sure who had a wider grin, the boy or the father. I think we harvested 4-5 deer.
Darkness was closing in, and we decided to call it a day. Too late to make another drive and some hounds were still missing. A few hunters decided to still hunt until dark, but I booked. The old man was tired. Although I did not harvest any “backstrap”, I enjoyed the day. I had a chance to enjoy the great outdoors, saw five deer, shared some fellowship with friends I had not seen since last season, and appreciated the opportunity to hunt another season. Life is good.