I received a fine piece of advice as soon as I pulled out of my parking space Monday morning, but I failed to heed its words.

As I idled onto Liberty Street with thoughts of what might come my way this first day of rifle season — the only deer season in which I participate — the First Presbyterian Church marquee caught my eye with its fitting motto, “CARPE DIUM.”

Granted, it was misspelled, which I noted immediately despite my severe lack of sleep and caffeine at 4:30 a.m., but the message to “seize the day” rang a bell in my head.

Being the pensive type, I spent a couple minutes pondering, was this a follow-up message to those who attended Sunday’s service? To the hunters who were venturing out into the woods that morning like myself? Or was it just an impetus for effort cast at anyone who happened to catch it on the way across Liberty or down East Center.

I didn’t find the answer in my reflection, but I did take it as a sign that my window to harvest some opening day Crawford County venison may open and close too quickly for hesitation.

Turns out, that sign was right on the money.

After an hour spent sipping some joe and dragging some doe urine toward my favorite stand, I reached the bottom of the tree just after 6.

An eternity later, or 55 minutes to be exact, I was in the tree and it was legally time to shoot.

I guess that “shooting hours” thing is just a technicality for some, as I had already heard several loud bangs that probably weren’t backfiring pick-up trucks.

But I digress.

I was perched on my seat about 10 to 12 feet above the ground, ready for the 23 deer sightings-an-hour pace I had experienced two years prior in this very spot.

About 15 minutes later, I was done grasping my gun in wait for that first-light flash of brown and white and wishing I was down the hill in the swamp firing feverishly at some mallards or woodies.

Needless to say, the action was slow at best.

Around 7:35, I heard a freight train coming through the dead leaves at 12 o’clock.

This was it. It was time to seize the day.

I grabbed my gun, and my heart jumped back into overdrive, only to feast my eyes upon an extremely hearty red fox squirrel.

There was no doubt that this guy (or girl) has nothing to worry about when the cold spell hits later in the week.

More and more squirrels began bustling about, keeping my ears perked, but also confusing my senses about what was coming in the woods.

Finally, around 11:15, I was sure I heard something larger moving in the brush ahead.

I spotted a doe and her baby sneaking through the thicket like soldiers behind enemy lines.

The mother was big enough to take, but the shot was not clear so I let them pass.

Five minutes later, a buck came screaming through the trees, stopping in range, but only presenting 3 points on each side. He continued to pursue the doe after a few frantic whiffs of the morning air.

The pair of doe appeared again an hour and a half later, again in thick cover.

The 6-point followed at a slower pace until he stopped, found another possible mate, and took off after her.

When he broke off, the two doe also spun around, leaving their cover and heading a little closer to my vantage point.

I had the chance to take the shot at the mom for about one second, but I paused.

My window had closed, and I was left to ponder what might have been had I squeezed the trigger.

It was time for work, so I headed back down the hill, onto the road and past the same sign which this time mocked me rudely.

On the bright side of things, the sun will rise again, and tomorrow is another diem.

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