Excitement came quick on Saturday's deer opener.
Tsch, tsch, something scuffed the leaves behind and barely 15 feet to the left.
A moment prior, a phone vibration signaled legal shooting time. Ten minutes earlier, I'd rolled into the pine branch hide in the pitch blackness.
This particular spot, in the midst of oak woods, at the foot of a brushy draw leading into one of those "deer sanctuary" swamps, has always been a great one.
Already, it was game on.
It is amazing how thoughts race through the mind when adrenaline spikes. The first was one on those rake-racked dandies was about to wheeze down the back of my neck. The dry fall had left a bit of ground to troll between the blind and water.
Second, was freeze. Stay calm, you've been here before. It is still awfully dark, the deer doesn't know what you are or why you're here.
I could recount a month's worth of close deer encounters, some ended well, all were excruciatingly awesome. No. 1 rule is don't make direct eye contact.
Without moving my face-mask covered head, I stretched an eyeball to its limit trying to corner a glimpse. Next came a tortuously slow turn.
Nothing was there. Sure sounded, now just wishfully, like a deer's foot-fall.
Hey, it felt wonderful to be alive and on alert.
Five minutes later, a leaf ticked again. This time it seemed more like a twig falling. A glance upward, rousted a turkey from its roost, some 40 feet above.
I wasn't the only one nervous as the big tom "painted the leaves white", within mere feet, before clattering down through the branches.
Soon, three more nearby gobblers, whoop-whooped to the ground, then picked their way out of sight.
Twenty-five minutes into the hunt I saw brown. First a patch of back, then a rump. The deer never lifted its head, sure-sign of a buck.
Alas, it did not offer a fair shot in the brush at 40 yards, although it passed within 10 yards of another ground hide at the top of the draw.
Should of been there, although the wind favored the edge of the swamp. The buck likely would of smelled me long before coming in range.
Another hour and a few false alarms from the obligatory fox squirrels, there was a doe heading my way.
At 30 yards and 90 pounds, it was just my size and in the sights.
It was an outstanding opening day for most hunters as a lot of area things were in their favor. Saturday was the first calm day after a blow, foliage was down, corn fields were mostly harvested and the rut was still hanging on.
Should get really good again after Saturday's forecasted wind and temperature drop. A bit of white background via snow would help greatly, too.
Indiana's deer firearm season continues through Nov. 29.
Deer Donations: The Sportsmen's Benevolent Fund and GiveIN Game are two Indiana DNR-approved programs which allow hunters to share local, low-fat and high-protein venison with the less fortunate. Check out these programs at www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild.
Youth hunt free: Nov. 28-29 are youth's free hunting days in Indiana. Any resident age 17 or younger, and accompanied by an adult, does not have to possess a hunting license on this weekend. See www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild for more details.
Outdoors report: Rains at mid-week should have perked up the steelhead in Trail Creek, as well as bring in some fresh-run fish. Whitefish, lake trout and steelhead should be available to pier anglers for the next few weeks if the weather cooperates.
Boaters were having a blast trolling or jigging lake trout outside the Port of Indiana. Should be a few off the end of Michigan City breakwall, as well.
North Zone Canada geese season closes on Sunday (Nov. 22) before reopening Dec. 12 to Jan. 24. Duck continue to be legal through Dec. 13, then Dec. 19-27.
Geneticaly-altered Salmon: Seems like another instance of corporate greed and politics moving us closer to the end as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved human consumption of DNA-altered salmon on Thursday.
A food corporation successfully mixed genes of other fish with farm-raised Atlantic salmon to produce a faster-growing "FrankenFish."
On the other hand, maybe biologists can use some of the science to improve Lake Michigan's hatchery stock.
A thorough article on the twisted-fish tale is at www.reuters.com.