Andy checked his equipment one more time. Everything looked fine. Today was the day, he could just feel it. Excitement bubbled through the nineteen year old. Today he would finally take a shot at Goliath, the massive sixteen point buck that had been haunting the thickets and swamps behind Andy’s house.
Dressed in camouflage from head to toe, Andy grabbed his pack and set off for the back sixty. The world around him was still cloaked in darkness, but he knew the trail without the need for a light. He wanted to be up in his tree stand before the world awoke, and the deer started their early morning migration to the dense cover of the thicket.
For three years, Andy had been watching Goliath from afar. The buck was smart, and could sense the presence of humans. The big animal seemed to enjoy parading just out of range. Andy had never been able to get a decent shot at the magnificent creature. And he was a beauty.
Andy entered the tranquility of the woods. The early song of the birds quieted as he journeyed to his favorite stand along the stream. It was from this stand that he had first seen Goliath, three years before. Even then the deer sported a monster rack. Every morning the large buck would come almost below this tree.
Using the spikes he had screwed into the large oak, Andy worked his way up to the tree stand, twenty feet in the air. He sat in the seat and secured himself with a harness. He then opened his pack and arranged the equipment. All he had to do now was observe and wait.
As the sky lightened, the shadows along the forest floor receded. The birds, forgetting about his intrusion into their space, picked up their song – welcoming the morning. A squirrel in a nearby oak started chattering. Soon the whole world was alive with the sounds of wildlife. Andy smiled and let the peace of the setting wash over him.
Only a gentle breeze waft through the branches. The direction of the wind was perfect. Goliath shouldn’t smell him till after Andy got his long coveted shot.
A doe materialized out of the gloom at the edge of the clearing. She swiveled her ears back and forth. Finally, she gave up her diligent observation and started nibbling on the tender grass. Three more does came from the trees and joined her.
Andy grabbed his binoculars. He could make out another shadow between the trees. Judging from the size, it had to be Goliath.
After checking his equipment one more time, Andy turned his attention back to the clearing. The does were slowly making their way toward the trail that would lead them right under his location. The shadow in the woodland still paced back and forth. In the improved light, Andy could make out the vague shape of antlers.
“Come on, big guy.” Andy whispered.
As if hearing Andy’s request, Goliath stepped out of the shadows. He was bigger than Andy originally thought. He had to weigh over three hundred pounds. With blood pounding in his ears, Andy watched the huge animal saunter through the clearing.
The does were now almost directly under his stand. They had yet to smell him. Goliath stepped onto the path, and within range. Andy carefully laid down his binoculars and picked up his camera. This was the shot that he had been waiting for. The early morning light filtering through the canopy would add just the right touch to the amazing picture.
Andy lined everything up in his viewfinder and snapped the shot. The deer’s ears perked up at the sound. He clicked away; each picture capturing the majesty of the forest king. Goliath stood stone still, while the does snorted. They had picked up his scent.
He scrolled through his pictures. The final frame showed five white tails waving at the deer bounded toward the safety of the thicket. Andy smiled. These were bound to win him a prize at the fair. Perhaps he would even get the pictures in a magazine. Ideas turned through his head as he climbed from the tree and walked back to the house. Nothing compared to the feeling of a successful hunt.
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