Saturday, January 03, 2009

Counting Coup

Unseasonably warm today here at the northern end of southern nowhere. The chances of deer moving before dark on a day when the mercury pushes 70 degrees on Herr Fehrenheit's scale are pretty slim. But with southerly winds bringing rain later this evening, I reasoned that just maybe I'd see something heading for the chow line before the weather got wet. And, I was right...barely.

With just minutes of legal shooting light left, I heard the unmistakable slight footsteps of deer moving purposely from my right and turned my head to watch two does make a beeline for the food plot in the field in front of me. As they approached, I heard a crunch to my left and turned to see the eight point I call Lucky Buck standing front and center at no more than fifty paces. He's a nice buck, but not as nice as he will be in a year or two. Many hunters would have taken him without a moment's hesitation and with no shame. But, I decided before the season started that if given the chance at him I would let him pass. There's a much older and better buck on the property that is my target.

As I watched him feed through the scope on my muzzle-loader, I felt as if I were standing next to him and could reach out and touch him. Mentally, I tapped Lucky Buck on the shoulder. The Chickasaw warriors who inhabited this land up until 200 years ago were known for their ferocity in battle. They and many of the other tribes had a practice of purposely touching their enemies in battle without the intent of delivering a maiming or killing blow, and kept a tally of the number of their enemies they had so touched in battle. The French explorers and traders who first witnessed this called it Counting Coup.

When I got back to the house this evening I told Miss Brenda that I had seen the nice buck and had counted coup on him. She said I'm just getting old and didn't want to drag the deer out of the woods.

I like my story better, but she's probably more right than I care to contemplate.
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