In this series, whitetail experts Craig and Neil Dougherty of North Country Whitetails  will share journal entries from their lives as 365 day a year whitetail hunters and managers. There isn’t a day that goes by that the Doughertys aren’t living and breathing whitetails, and this series will follow their observations from the field, their successes in the woods, a few off topic interludes, and everything in between. A true deer hunting diary. Enjoy! – MK

By Craig Dougherty

Funny how it goes, sometimes you end your deer season and sometimes it just ends without you. This year it was the latter.  According to the syllabus it ended right on schedule, but I wasn’t ready. I’m not sure why, but I’m feeling a little empty as I write this. It’s the last day of the season, but something is missing.

My season always starts with a light show. Not strobes or flashing lights, just the warm, cathedral like glow of filtered autumn sunlight. The show is always better watched from a tree stand and I’m always there for the finale; the deer don’t matter, it’s about the light and there’s plenty of time. Check.

The rut comes next. The big guys start showing up and you know that tonight will be THE night. This year did not disappoint; he came and it played out according to the script I wrote while mowing his clover plot. No shot, but he came and the script played out none the less. The time for killing would come. Bow season ended and we walked off the mountain—together. Check.

And come it did; the late season is always good. I shot and they dropped and I was again a killer of deer; and so were the others in camp. The skinning shed was full and we celebrated each other’s good fortune and yes, the kill; food in the freezer, the circle of the hunt is complete. Check

The big events and a hundred other smaller (smaller  but not lesser) ones are all covered. But there is still something missing. The season is over, but I’m not done. There was something I was after, something yet to be done. Something missing from my check list; something I need to do or see or feel before I say, “There it’s over, I have hunted and I am complete”.

That something grows clearer as I write.  For the last week or so I had been percolating an idea, I had been thinking about it way back there in my brain; been feeling like it would be nice to sit in a blind with my son Neil one more time this season. The deer are hitting his corn heavily and it would be a high percentage muzzleloader hunt. He could use one more doe for the freezer and I could use a little back slapping family time before heading south for the winter. Yeah, that’s it, I needed to sit with Neil over his corn field in a snowstorm before the season could end.

I should have called but we are both busy, so I sent him a text to get his take, start the conversation, give it some life, make it happen. But texting ain’t talking and somehow it never got picked up on. As far as I know our last hunt of the season (maybe even our last hunt together, who knows), may still be out there in cyberspace somewhere, unanswered, unsent, possibly unseen. That’s a hell of a way to treat a hunt. Hunting is too damn important, too much of life to be reduced to a bunch of characters on an iPhone. Yup, I had one more thing to do before my season could end and I left it in cyberspace.

Call anytime.

For more from Craig Dougherty, visit NorthCountryWhitetails.com