I was in my tree stand on a farm near Comus, Maryland by 6 a.m. a good half hour before I could legally shoot. For once on opening day, the weather was warm, around 35 degree, and promising to get warmer throughout the day. I love this stand because it's easy to see in every direction, and the surrounding terrain is a promising mix of open field, forest, tree line, and bramble-filled bottoms. I always know there are lots of deer bedded down in the bottom, and that one will eventually make a move. One did in fact pick its way right past my stand before the sun was up. I could hear him and vaguely make him out, but it was too early to shoot. Then about 7:30 an antlerless deer emerged quietly from the treeline about 30 yards from me. He was in no hurry but he was wary. I was already in perfect position to remain almost motionless while I raised my gun and put him in the crosshairs. He turned almost broadside to me and I pulled the trigger. There was a blast and the slug hit a little high and a little back. But it was lethal. The deer, blood already streaming down its side, took a few frantic steps toward the brambles, a distance of another thirty yards, and then there was silence. I climbed down from the stand and found him dead just inside the thicket. It was a button buck, his antlers barely in inch tall.
The rest of the morning in the stand was uneventful. The only deer were too far off to shoot or on another property. At about 10:30 I climbed down and hauled the buck to a clearing to field dress him and then make the long haul to the road. My friend and hunting mentor, Gary, met me out there and we headed off to butcher.
After getting skunked the past two years, this was a welcome start to the new hunting season.