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Coming up empty after shopping for evasive meal
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I didn’t say a word for seven hours Saturday.

It wasn’t until another soft-walker with a rifle over his shoulder asked if I had any luck that I broke my vow of silence.

“Saw a 4-by-4, but it wasn’t big enough, so I let it go.”

He nodded his head expecting a different answer, then when his head chambered the idea that I let a buck go, he spoke.

“Oh, really?”

“Nah, I haven’t even seen one. No does, no tracks, no sign.”

He laughed a little, then walked toward the spot I had just vacated atop a bucolic ridge. I rolled down the rocky trail toward the main road and other spots to not find deer.

Before I joked with the fellow hunter, I spent the early and mid-morning hours trooping around a ridge that had plenty of old travel corridors through low bushes and trees. I had seen some tracks, but they were so old, they might as well been fossilized.

Last year, I went up on opening weekend and was convinced I was more likely to get pierced by a stray bullet than see any animal. To a guy that is almost as content to just walk around the woods with a pack, gun and thermos of coffee, being surrounded by dudes with high powered rifles, it was scary.
I didn’t feel I missed out on much by not adding to the traffic jam on the first day to legally slay deer this year.

Saturday was much quieter. There were the occasional deer camps in pullouts, slow moving trucks with windows open and cordial waves.

Despite precipitation earlier in the week, the ground was still crunchy. I felt about as stealth as high-heels on a hardwood floor in some spots, but stalked my way around some good spots.

But dinner never appeared, and an hour after p.m. took over I started to hear snaggle-toothed Timmons warn “There ain’t nothing here, lieutenant”, just as he did to Lt. Dunbar in Dances With Wolves.

I ignored it. It was pretty clear that Timmons was right in the context of there being no deer anywhere near my parked truck, but there was plenty to see and more than enough to continue to escape.

I was also led by that instinctive need to provide food by means other than hunting pre-packaged deals from the meat department in a climate controlled store.

Shopping earth for meals is fun, but I am obviously happy places like Raley’s and Fagundes exist because as we have all seen in the past two weeks, I’ve been able to supply exactly zero food for myself the old fashion way.

I’d be a little hungry by now. I also wanted to plop down a back-strap onto Nate’s charcoal grill in celebration of him turning.

After a few more hours ambling in the fresh woods on the warm afternoon, I decided I was ready for pavement, buildings and people again.

I ended up giving Nate the cartridge that still housed the bullet that was supposed to bring down the deer.

I thought it was a very thoughtful birthday gift. I also brought some smoked salmon.

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail