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We all hunt for different reasons

I feel a sense of accomplishment upon outwitting a wild animal with keen and wary senses. And a sense of satisfaction upon providing my family and friends with table fare far more tasty and healthier than one can purchase at the local market.

Folks hunt for different reasons, none more or less valid than any other as long as one remains within the confines of the law.

I get caught up in the dream of bagging the buck of a lifetime, and become obsessed with trying to outfox a specific deer. But I can recall many seasons that I never stared down the muzzle at that proverbial "wall-hanger."

I can say with all confidence that those years were as enjoyable as when I outwitted an animal. I'll go farther and say that some of the most enjoyable hours occur either before the season's opening morning or when I'm not perched on a stand.

I truly enjoy going through the motions of scouting, trying to capture deer photos on my game cameras. I suppose, as a professional outdoor photographer, it's just my nature.

But I literally feel a sense of euphoria upon seeing an exposure of a trophy buck on my media card. I've even questioned my willingness to shoot specific deer.

Yes, a lot of my deer-hunting cohorts might find that particular mindset somewhat peculiar, even ludicrous. But remember: We all hunt for different reasons. And if I have experienced success and put meat in the freezer, why not thumb through my files with anticipation of seeing that monster unsuspectingly going about his everyday rituals?

Despite ticks, chiggers, spiders, snakes and other critters that sting, buzz or bite, I have my cameras secured to trees and loaded. I've been dispersing feed for the past few weeks, placing a handful of mineral licks in areas I plan to hunt during the upcoming season.

I finally had the opportunity to visit my game cams and feeders one day last week. Something had been actively visiting, with the feeders completely empty and not a speck of corn left on the ground.

I grew somewhat excited upon learning that more than 100 exposures had burned onto the first card, though the excitement relented upon looking at them on the screen.

Not a single deer had stepped within eye shot of the camera. Other than a couple shots of a fat fox squirrel, every exposure was triggered by a family of raccoons. It had turned into a nightly gathering. They obviously had voracious appetites and, for their size, could consume prodigious amounts of corn.

After cleaning the ground of every single kernel of corn, they would climb the feeder's legs, reach inside the outlet and continue to pull feed to the ground.

Visiting the next station, this feeder had also been emptied. Not wanting to see another hundred photos of raccoons consuming all of my feed, I was pleased to see that these shots included at least one and as many as three deer. And the remaining files were great captures of two hen turkeys that moseyed within sight practically every day.

Upon returning to the vehicle, I was satisfied with the locations I had chosen to hang my cameras despite the deluge of hungry raccoons at the initial site. I concluded that these witty bandits play a significant role in the ecosystem and was certain that, in due time, the deer would nudge them from the food as soon as it hit the ground.

Sports on 08/13/2017

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