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Possumhaw: Waiting and watching ...


Shannon Bardwell



Last night just as we sat down to eat Sam pointed and said, "Three deer just stepped out from the trees." 


The three looked to be the same size; Sam suggested they were about a year old, yearlings. They lowered their heads and began to eat. "Persimmons," I said. "There's a persimmon tree over there, that's what they are eating." 


I noticed the deer ignored the horse apples. I watched to see if they tipped over to the lake for a drink, but they didn't. I wondered if they would nip a bit of the spearmint at the edge of the water, a natural breath freshener, but they didn't. 


The three amigos skipped a bit and then wandered back into the woods. It won't be long we'll be putting up the deer feeder and, twice a day, the feeder will hurl golden corn kernels about. The deer will learn the times and they will come, and when they do we'll be waiting -- waiting and watching. Deer-watching is another Prairie pastime.  


Last year we dragged the fort from the old swing set over to the edge of the woods and fashioned a viewing stand. We weren't hidden at all but had something to sit on and a roof over our heads. It got really cold at times, even with a thermos of coffee to warm our innards. I tried to stick it out so Sam would think I was a real trooper, and just before I was about to cry "uncle," he'd say, "Well, let's head back to the house." 


Once, on our way back we looked down the drive that opens to the Swoope family land and there stood a magnificent buck. He looked just like The Hartford Insurance stag. He just stood there looking at us. I wanted to tell him standing on Swoope family land might not be the safest thing he could do, but he looked like he'd been around for a while, so maybe he already knew that. We stood there until we couldn't see him any longer, then we made our way through the darkness back to the house.  


Last year's viewing stand is on the north end of the property. Sam thought it would be a good idea if we had another one on the south end; that way we could position ourselves to the best advantage, depending on the direction of the wind. I've never understood why we have to be so careful about where we are and what we smell like, when deer dance right out in front of us all the time. In any case, we got another stand and it's a lot nicer. 


Nate Pack had a deer stand out on his hunting place that collapsed at one time or another; I think it made him mad. Nate offered it to Sam and he took it. A few screws, wood, paint cans and Plexiglas windows later, we'll have a top-notch deer stand for watching deer this season.


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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