4:30 came early this morning but when the alarm began buzzing I was up like a light. We, my second-born, Z., and I were headed to Alabama to chase whitetails. It was going to be his first "true" deer hunt and my first return to the Heart of Dixie since being back in the States. To say we were pumped would be an understatement!
Most of the day was spent in transit. I always love seeing America but hate being cooped up in a car. We stopped a couple times for gas, food and an obligatory visit to one of the three Bass Pro Shops we passed. After 9 1/2 hours behind the steering wheel we pulled onto Steedley Farm. After stopping off to see our gracious hosts, LC and Mrs. Kay, we drove down to the cabin to check on the boys. Emory, Steve, Rusty and David were all present and accounted for. After hugs and handshakes we stowed our gear, donned our camo and headed into the woods.
The Ameristep blind was placed strategically at the end of a recently cut firelane and a footplot full of winter wheat. It was a great spot. Unfortunately the deer did not cooperate. We did, however, have a very close encounter with the largest bobcat I've ever seen. Just at sunset, as I was staring intently out the blind's window, a shadow walked, no floated across the fire lane. I tapped Z on the leg and pointed, whispering, "Hey, I think there's a deer." He was holding the binoculars. He looked down the lane and shook his head, "Nothing!" "Look again!" I hissed. So he mounted the Leupolds to his face again. This time I saw his entire body tense. "DAD! It's a bobcat!" As loud as he could whisper. Sure enough it was and it was making it's way, effortlessly and directly toward us. I gripped my Mission tightly and clipped my release on the bow string. Maybe I'd get a shot. The bobcat continued easing toward us and then stopped directly in front of the blind, no more than five feet from where we sat, trying to breath. He took a couple steps and I drew my bow. Just as I put the 10 yard pin on him the bobcat whipped his head back toward us, started a millisecond in our direction and then bounded off, unscathed. I looked over at my son, who finally let out sigh. Apparently he'd held his breath through the entire ordeal. "DAD! Why didn't you shoot!" He wanted that bobcat. So did I.
On the walk out we talked about ethical shot placement, celebrated our close encounter and thanked God for a wonderful afternoon in the stand. Maybe tomorrow we will get a shot....