Along the Trail 7-12-12


Editor’s Note: This is a column written by Switzerland County’s David Hewitt. The articles center on all things ‘outdoors’, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.


It was an unassuming three bedroom vinyl-sided ranch. ‘Cookie cutter’ – like most homes at my price point. Nothing particularly good, nothing bad.

The upside is that it was neat and clean and turn key ready. At scarcely two acres, it was far from an estate, but it did have a small wooded hillside behind the house.

In the country – but not hardly remote.

Exactly half way between Rising Sun for work and Vevay for the kids’ school; so, like it or not, the little gray ranch would be our house for this full time dad with part time kids.

The first summer passed by quickly with plenty of grass mowed, laundry washed and meals cooked. Before I knew it, early September rolled around and the evening air had just enough chill to turn my thoughts to deer hunting. A hike was in order and I made my way down the hill behind the house to the small creek below.

It was a creek by definition only.

Most of the time dry, it started it’s life as a spillway for a new pond a few hundred yards up the road and then snaked its way down a shallow holler along Little Hominy. The small slice of woods was thick with locust, cedar and wild cherry trees, just the sort of tangled forest deer love.

To my delight, the sandy creek bank was covered in deer tracks. A downed sycamore formed a pinch point and forced the animals to cross here. A well worn trail sneaked out of the cedars and a long, tall walnut tree at the edge was begging for a stand.

This was the spot…

The next few weeks wore on and the cooler temperatures had the neighborhood deer revealing themselves and I was determined to fill my freezer with one. October at last and archery season was in full swing. Broadheads razor sharp and hours of shooting my old yard sale recurve had my confidence in high form.

I wheel into the driveway after a long day at work. The wind is perfect for a quick evening sit behind the house. I jump into my hunting garb, grab the bow and in a few minutes, I’m 20-feet up the walnut for my ritual…

As I let the day evaporate from me, I listen to the cars whizzing by and wonder who’s driving them. I surmise they’re on the way to the steel plants or casino as they occasionally honk as they pass the house. A couple of acrobatic squirrels entertain me as the shadows grow longer and afternoon turns to dusk. I can’t help but grin as I look through the trees and see the roof of the little ranch and listen to my dog barking his displeasure on the end of his chain, not more than 100 yards away.

Then, ‘snap’.

As a twig breaks under foot. I glance down and there she is, a mature, healthy doe, not 12 yards away.

No time to react or prepare.

No time for nerves.

She crosses my shooting window, perfectly broadside, just yards from me. Slow motion sets in as my shooting glove hits its anchor point…the cedar arrow speeds her way and buries deep and I know it’s her end. The doe heaves forward and makes her last run up the hill and comes to rest within sight…

Over in seconds.

I lean back in my stand and gather up my thoughts and my gear. The trail will be a short one, for which I am grateful and I give thanks above…

I kneel down next to the old gal and run my hand across her graceful neck and pat her shoulder and as I glance up towards the house with it’s windows glowing, and the kids’ voices distant, it strikes me that the little vinyl ranch is more than a house…

It has become home.

– David Hewitt