After chasing deer for many years, most whitetail hunters are led to the inevitable conclusion that there are basically three types of deer:
    The first type is the deer of legend.
    And they are legion and uncountable.
    These bucks and does have fooled and outsmarted us, made a mockery of the best stands, tactics, strategies, techniques, and theories and generally messed with our minds.
    Don’t laugh, but these deer have driven people to drink and others to religion.
    Proof? You want proof?
    What other pastime or passion, makes a hunter into a speechless caricature of a living Bobble-head toy? If they ever make Bobble-head toys for deer hunters, I hope they get it right and design them so the head shakes from side-to-side instead of up and down!
    How do whitetails do it?
    How do so many elude us? That’s a good question.
    But even more so, a better question is: how do these deer take an emotion like fist-pounding frustration, and then change it into amazement and respect, just a few minutes later?
    Enough said about the deer of our dreams.
     The second category is those whitetails that have not been so lucky. They are the dead ones.
    Whether the cause of their demise was a failing in their genetic makeup, a metabolic anomaly, a lower IQ, taking the wrong trail, or just the way the autumn winds blew on that fateful day, each and every one of those deer ended up, cut up and wrapped up in their own special resting place in the upright or chest freezer.
    Everybody talks and writes enough about those deer. This is not about them
    But there is a third category, not often spoken of in public, and rarely even admitted to except in those rare moments of truth and clarity.
    We are deer hunters. We like to think that it was our skill, ability, and hunting prowess that earned us our hard-won and hard to drag prize.
    Where among us is the deer hunter who admits that once in a while some
 Whitetails have been foolish, downright stupid, and dumber than a fence post.
    As many deer hunters would suspect, some might guess, and only a couple would admit, these dumbest, silliest deer, have something in common; each and every one was a yearling buck.
    A yearling buck is a buck that has lived through one winter as a fawn and made it through the following spring and fall to its second hunting season.
    Down through the years hunters have counted points on a buck’s rack as if we were counting points in a basketball game.
    “I shot a four-pointer.”
    “Well, I guess I got you beat, I shot a six-pointer.”
    “Right?”
    Yearling bucks are yearling bucks. Doesn’t matter an eyelash whether there are two little bumps on an antler or three, or if it’s a spike buck. Yearling bucks are yearling bucks.
    They are the dumbest deer.
    Examples:
    Early in my hunting career I positioned a flat stone up in a three-trunk Red oak tree and climbed up in my new stand. But it was a bit wobbly. All of a sudden the stone slipped sideways, and I tumbled the four feet or so to the ground. More embarrassed than hurt, I looked around to see if anybody saw my acrobatic form.
    And something did. Yes sir. A yearling buck was striding down through the woods to check out the noise and commotion.
    I rolled over in the leaves, picked up my bow and pulled an arrow out of the quiver, looked up…the deer was still coming…pulled back, and at 10 yards drilled him.
    There weren’t many deer killed with a bow back then. So other bow hunters assumed that skill, woodsmanship, and hunting ability allowed me to tag that deer.
    “But Nope, truth is,” I’d say, “I just fell out of the tree and had to shoot in self-defense.”
    And they would wink, and think I was holding out and not telling them the whole story. But the real truth is, it was just a dumb yearling buck.
    Another example: I don’t feel, still to this day, very good about the scenario. I shouldn’t, but I don’t.
    I had a yearling buck coming in to a stand in a big Hemlock tree every evening during the early part of the bow season. Got so he was almost like a pet, and a good “confidence decoy” for other deer. So I told a hunting buddy if he wanted to shoot a buck, I knew where he could do it.
    He called me, excited and happy after dark that night saying, “I got my deer!” The yearling buck came in while he was pulling his bow up into the stand.
    “Good for you,” I said, “Good for you.”


Oak Duke, publisher of the Wellsville Daily Reporter writes a weekly column, appearing on The Outdoors Page. Email: publisher@wellsvilledaily.com