B. J. and I live on St. Simons Island, Ga. Some of the people on St. Simons put a lot of stock in the fact that they are members of private clubs. Well, although it is not on St. Simons Island and we don’t go around tooting our horn about it, we own our own private club.
Located somewhere in south Georgia is the family farm where I grew up with my brother and sisters. Part of that farm has been in my family well over a hundred years. The club is bought and paid for and we hold a clear title to it. For much of the year, that farm is exclusively the private hunting club of the Boyd family and particular friends who get special written permission to be there from the proprietor of the club, me. Deer and turkey, and some other wild animals, are abundant on the place.
Several years ago, my son Richard, who is a great outdoorsman (I taught him everything he knows), and I were there on a serious hunting trip. We were at the club well before daylight.
My deer stand was in one of the deep swampy areas. I wanted to be on that stand before daybreak. The stand was right beside a well-used deer trail.
Richard, driving his big swamp buggy truck, got me as close to the stand as he could. I had to walk the rest of the way in total darkness and near-freezing temperature and carry my high-powered Marlin deer rifle. Had I not been trekking through those woods since childhood I would have gotten completely lost.
Struggling through the thicket, I found my deer stand and climbed to the top, seated myself comfortably, eased a shell into the chamber and waited quietly. Richard was on a deer stand about a half-mile away.
I’ve been on a lot of deer stands in cold weather before daybreak. Tension builds. You have to be perfectly quiet. You can hardly breathe. No spitting or coughing is allowed. Drinking coffee before mounting a deer stand is out of the question because bathroom breaks are a no-no.
That morning not a breeze was stirring (I have been on stands in seemingly gale-force wind). It was quiet. Occasionally, a dead leaf would fall and you could hear it all over the swamp.
My trigger finger was cold but sweaty as I kept it firm on the trigger of the big gun. I squinted through the darkness to see if I could spot any movement. In the early morning gray dawn, I’ve had deer to walk right up to the foot of the stand almost unnoticed. My rifle was equipped with a telescope sight but I had not gotten into lasers yet. I now have laser sights.
It was getting lighter. Suddenly, I detected a movement in a clearing about a hundred feet away. The deer stopped for a second too long and I raised my rifle slowly and fired. The deer fell and squirmed around a little in the dry leaves and then got up and took off through the woods. My heart sank.
In a few minutes, I heard Richard bulldozing through the woods in his big truck. Soon, he stopped and turned off the ignition and struggled through the bushes to my stand. “What did you shoot, daddy?”
“I don’t know; it got up and ran.”
We found a blood trail that led through the tangle and Richard began following it.
A few minutes later, Richard’s voice rang out. “Daddy, come here. I’ve found your deer.”
My heart pounding, I thrashed through the thicket to where my son was standing with a big grin on his face. Lying before him on the ground was my “deer”; one of the biggest coyotes that I had ever seen. He could hold it no longer. He burst out laughing.
“Well, daddy do you want to field dress him or take him to the slaughter house? I know that you will want to mount his head in your living room?”
“All right, son, you just keep on and I’ll revoke your hunting rights.”
To this day, that “deer” hunt has become legendary on the Boyd Family Hunting club.