My Witt's End

The Buck Stops Here

The Buck Stops …


Actually, the buck stops any place he damn well chooses in October. For example, I was hiking down the northeastern loop of the Carriage Trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park this morning, just minding my business and that of any other creature I happened to see.

So this morning I stopped to watch a Pileated Woodpecker destroying a fallen tree. He had the chips flying like he was getting paid for the job. I heard the leaves rustle behind me and over my shoulder saw two does walking, cautiously, in my direction. Around here, whitetail deer are as plentiful as, well, as whitetail deer. It’s not uncommon in a four-mile hike to see a dozen or more deer, grazing or doing whatever deer do when they think no one is watching.

Since no one was listening I said to these two, “’Morning ladies.” They halted, looked at each other, then looked back and to their right.

There stood a huge buck, looking at me. Through my binoculars I counted eight points on each antler. I’m not sure how they count the points when hunters talk about an X-point buck, however, this dude had a rack! I don’t want to get too deeply into personification here, however, I had the distinct feeling this guy was looking at me as if I was looking at his lady friends with something other than a naturalist’s curiosity.

My 2k brain was running the options available to me in case this guy wanted to make a point—or two. Climbing a tree seemed the only thing available. I opted for a stare-down. I may have read somewhere that staring at a wild animal is not the best plan of attack. But, heck, it had worked with squirrels and chipmunks, why not this big guy?

He snorted a couple times and the does changed their trajectory to pass by further to the left. He watched them move on up into the trees, frequently turning to see what I was going to do. Since he looked away first I declared myself the winner of the stare-down and wished him a tolerable day as I walked on down the path.

It’s that time of the year when bucks stop here and there and everywhere.


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