The plowed field was soft under my boots. I walked toward a stand of corn in farm country north of my home on a deserted country road. A clouded sky and light rain painted a lonesome landscape. The stalks, waiting for harvest, swayed and rustled in the breeze.
I enjoy bow hunting in the rain, many experienced hunters will confirm that it is a beautiful time to tag a mature Whitetail. I agree. There is a memorizing effect on the individual who ventures out in contrary weather. I cannot confirm this, but it has been my experience that for some reason, deer like to get out and move during inclement conditions. My hope was based on this thought as I made my way across a discked field to the edge of a corn planting I was sure held deer.
My hopes were not miss-lead. I skirted the edge of the corn that butted up against a section of natural conservation grass which served as a popular bedding area. The corridor of rain-soaked earth between the corn and grass was a highway of deer activity. Well used trails connected the prairie reserve to the corn. I stopped often to watch, listen, and still-hunt my way to a prime location and set up my hunting stool in the corn. About one hundred yards into the hunt, the corn rows thinned, creating a natural funnel into the main plot. I could tell by the increased deer sign that this was a feeding destination. The deer had been pulling the corn husks right off the stalks. The hollow appeared to offer a sense of safety. I knew this was the place for an attempted ambush. I decided on a vantage point that offered a fifteen-yard shot toward the point of the funnel. The corn behind me was tall and healthy, while the rows in front of me were stunted, and tapered off, allowing ample cover with accessible shooting lanes.
I took on the form of a statue, a requirement, and practice of patience, for the ground hunter. The hundreds of hoof marks in the black soil filled with water, becoming tiny pools that rippled with each splash of rain. The movement of corn stalks and rain combined to create an orchestra of natures symphony. I watched the day slowly slip behind the steel gray of autumn sky and sharpened my focus after a two hour sit in the magical rain and corn. It was that golden 30 minutes of daylight every hunter plans around.
With each beat of my heart I imagined a buck or mature doe cautiously making their way down the edge of the field. At this point, the moist ground worked against me as the deer would be utterly silent in the wet sod and could potentially walk right up behind me without my knowledge. The anticipation was intense. With all the recent deer sign, I knew it was just a matter of time before things got exciting.
I fought to keep my composure during the last minutes of light. This is always the hardest part of the ground hunt for me. Everything in my body says move, stretch, re-position myself for a little more comfort. But I know staying rooted like a tree, and remaining motionless, is the key to success.
Then the atmosphere changed. A few feet over my right shoulder and only moments before a beautiful doe would have stepped into view, and my scent betrayed me. The wind swirled just slightly, or perhaps my camouflaged shape in the corn gave her pause, whatever the reason, the hunt was busted. The doe blew and bounded off toward the safety of her bedding area in the conservation grass. I saw the big animal silhouetted against the prairie growth, trying to determine what I was. The rain was unbiased. It continued to lightly fall as I walked back along the corn in a first minutes of night.