“Why do we have to wait here in the cold,” Daisy asked her father as they sit in a blind made from nearby tree limbs and branches.
“Deer run away when you go out looking for them,” Bill replied.
“There has got to be a better way to do this?” Daisy said trying to stay warm while snowflakes fall around them. “Why don’t people hunt in the summer?”
“You already know that from your hunting safety class. The cold preserves the meat so that nothing goes to waste. Now pipe down, all this talking is going to scare everything away. We won’t even leave with a squirrel.”
“That’s gross,” daisy said shrugging her shoulders.
“There may come a day when you have to eat what you can.”
“I’ll wait until then,” Daisy said. A second later the sound of leaves crackling followed by a twig caught their attention. Bill tapped Daisy on the shoulder to ready her shotgun, a .410 they had bought the summer before. She spent a few hours at the range with it, becoming comfortable with the kick. Neither of them said a word as they looked at the ridge, waiting to see what would climb over.
The pounding in her chest made her wonder if her heart was going to explode from her ribcage. Her breathing slowed down as her eyes focused on the ridge line. The cracking and popping of leaves and sticks continued and a second later a pair of brown ears extended from the earth. The deer ascended and a large doe appeared, thick and stocking it was a few years old and ate well before the winter. The doe faced Daisy and had not notice the two hunters behind the blind. Bill put his hand on Daisy’s shoulder and squeezed. She lifted the .410 and waited for the kill shot to appear.
Long seconds passed. Daisy took long deep breaths trying to slow her heart beat but nothing worked. Her skin tingled and the blood rushing through her veins was warm. Every sound, every movement, happened in slow motion. The deer was taking its time until it turned, looking at a tree, sniffing the bark for a potential meal. The side was exposed and Daisy could see the furnace, the hotbox of death. One clear shot and there wouldn’t be a chase, no tracking to find her kill. Daisy clicked the safety off in front of the trigger and took a deep breath. Her heart was still beating fast, the veins in her neck throbbed as she closed her left eye and lined up the sight.
The shot happened. The loud clap of gas exploding out of the barrel caught her off guard and she was startled when the deer stumbled and fell to the side, down the hill and out of sight. Daisy panicked and rushed out of the blind before bill could stop her.
The ridge overlooked the start of a swamp and on the other end was the open fields the older hunters preferred. The public hunting lands were thousands of acres of everything a deer needed to thrive. The sun was setting with a blood red hew painted across the sky. Daisy could see an orange clad figure walking in the field a mile away, his hunt ruined by the shot she had made. Looking down she found her kill and a few feet below that was a fawn that she had never seen. The mother was dead, the fawn looked at Daisy, turned and ran. A few seconds later the fawn disappeared into the swamp, thick brush hiding it from predators like Daisy.
“You did good.” Bill walked up behind her seeing the clean kill.
“It had a fawn,” Daisy said. “I just watched it run away into the swamp.”
“It will be fine,” Bill said.
“Are you sure?” Daisy asked.
“This deer was a fawn like that one at one time. Trust me, it will make due.” Bill pulled a buck knife from his pocket and unfolded the blade. “Remember not to nick the intestines.”