usually in a white oak
above a thicket of rhododendron.
I check for visibility and shooting lanes.
If need be, I’ll clear away undergrowth
to assure clean shots along the trail
and down into the thicket.
I’m careful to remove all the trimmings.
I place salt blocks within range
and sprinkle deer scent,
hoping to attract a lovesick buck.
Before dawn I’m on the stand,
cradling a hard-hitting brush gun
with a low-powered scope.
I scan the bushes for the flick of an ear,
leg movement, an antler tine,
the horizontal line of a spine.
Suddenly there they are downwind,
a doe and a fawn, black noses
nudging the block, jerking skyward,
later the buck arrives—a 12 pointer;
his long pink tongue slaps the leaves
where I’ve dripped the scent,
he is mad with desire, searching for love,
he may hang himself in the branches.
I set the crosshairs just above the shoulder.
I know exactly how he feels.