The stalk was perfect, right until it wasn’t. The group of mule deer does and fawns blew out of the snowberries like a flock of quail.
My buddy looked at the rapidly disappearing butts and black-tipped tails and sighed dismissively. “Who cares. It’s only a doe.”
Only a doe?
Only a doe can teach you the finer points of stealth. Only a doe can pick you off at 1,000 yards despite your best efforts to stay concealed. Only a doe has a nose that can detect scent particles in vanishingly tiny concentrations. Only a doe can produce the bucks with the headgear you measure and memorialize. Only a doe can make a fool out of hunters both ordinary and accomplished.
Only a doe, you say?
Only a doe can hold her ground while the rest of the herd slips over the horizon. Only a doe can stamp her feet and cause a riot of white tails and alarm snorts. Only a doe can starve herself to feed her fawns. Only a doe can manufacture rump roasts and backstraps and succulent venison shanks. Only a doe can lead the way to safety, winter range, and spring fawning grounds, not once but every season for her lifetime.
Only a doe can be the most surprising and satisfying trophy of your season. But only if you respect all the trip-wire senses and elephantine memory that built her. Only a doe.