It was a wild start with the wind blowing like crazy.


Note: This week’s column is written by Steve Gilliland’s wife, Joyce.

It was a wild start with the wind blowing like crazy.

Wednesday morning and afternoon, we were nestled down in our blind like two peas in a camouflaged pod. The wind was in our face from the north at 100 mph.

This might be a slight exaggeration, but it sure felt like it. As I sat in the blind, bare faced in two pairs of long johns, a shirt, sweat shirt, hunter orange vest and hunter orange stocking cap, I said to myself “What were you thinking?”

I actually took time off from a warm and toasty job to freeze in a windstorm to harvest a deer. Well, I didn’t say a thing; I just put on my “I sure am happy to be here with you, honey” look and kept my mouth shut. The fact that my lips may have been frozen together had nothing to do with it.

On Thursday afternoon, I rushed to Hutchinson to find a jacket that would keep me warm, and as fate would have it, my favorite farm store was having a sale. So even though I lost points for not being prepared, I gained points for buying a sale item. I pride myself in many things. Sitting still and being quiet are not among them; however, I do have foresight and the ability to be prepared. This week I think I must have lost both of those. But I redeemed myself by managing to find the warmest jacket I could find. So back to the blind.

It was now Friday morning and still no deer. Our blind was located on the southwest side of a little meadow and was a good location with the wind coming from the north, but as we sat there I noticed that overnight the wind had changed from north northwest to south southwest.

I had failed yet another skill of being prepared. Actually, I failed to check the wind and weather report on the computer. The wind was now blowing our scent directly to the area we hoped to see deer. We waited a while and decided to discretely walk to a new location north of our present one. We would be sitting without a blind between a couple of round bales.

This was not as bad as I thought, but of course the wind was going to be in our faces. Thank goodness the sun was shining. We waited patiently, but I finally had enough and, after what seemed to be hours (more like 45 minutes), I decided to warm up in the pickup that was parked not too far away and also disguised as a hunter green rectangular hay bale.

The sun was going down, and I was sitting in the pickup trying to warm up when Steve tapped on the door and signaled for me to come. I quietly put down the book I was reading and opened the door. Thank goodness for leather seats because I just slid off the seat and out the door in no time flat.

We crouched between the bales and found our places, and sure enough, there were two deer quickly fading in the shadows of sunset. Well, that is all it took. Even though I hadn’t shot a deer yet, at least I knew they were there.

My heart raced. We waited until it was dark and proceeded to set up a second blind at the end of a row of round hay bales where it blended in perfectly. We placed our chairs inside and slowly drove away. Not until we saw those deer had I realized just how much my hope had waned, but now I was renewed. I saw deer! Life was good!

The next morning, it was much easier to roll out of bed and get ready. There were deer out there waiting for me. Steve quietly dropped me off at the blind, and I proceeded to get in the blind when a whisper from the pickup reminded me to get my rifle. You talk about embarrassed.

Steve moved the pickup out of site and joined me a few minutes later. Once the sun came up, I thought I saw movement in the nearby wooded area. Sure enough the deer were walking through. We waited for them to come out onto the wheat where we could get them in our sights. Not long after that, I saw them hop a fence and go into a field further east of us.

My hopes again were dashed. Time was running out and I would have to return to work on Monday, but we continued to sit. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, a young buck with a small doe stepped from the weeds onto the wheat before us. They grazed there a while, slowly moving towards us. I was prepared, I thought.

The buck started moving towards us a little faster than I anticipated and then made a sharp turn to his left, giving me the perfect shot. I needed to move my rifle to another window in the blind without being spied by the deer. I tried to turn but the butt of my rifle was stuck on the back of my chair. I couldn’t move!

With encouragement from Steve, I solved the problem, only to watch the buck jump the fence, taking my perfect shot with him. He was now a little further away behind some small saplings, but still allowed me a good shot. He ran off where I couldn’t see him and the doe ran the other direction.

Not sure if my shot had been true, we waited. Soon we spotted the doe in the woods. Her head was down and she was making a strange motion. Steve told me the buck had laid down and she was trying to get him to stand. We continued to wait, and after a time, the doe left. We walked to the woods and found the shot had been true and the nice young buck was there. The waiting had paid off. To me, deer hunting season is just one way that makes winter tolerable and gives me another reason to Discover Kansas Outdoors.

Steve Gilliland is a syndicated outdoors columnist, and can be contacted by e-mail at stevegilliland@embarqmail.com.