I had sat on stand in northern Saskatchewan for five long, windy days and had seen a few bucks, but none that were close to the size of the heads on the wall back at the lodge.

Everyone in our group had tagged out by midweek and was enjoying late breakfasts, the fire at the lodge, and venison tenderloin lunches. All except me and my friend Dean.

Dean had hunted more than I had, and maybe he was a little more used to the pressure that you feel on the final day. Maybe that’s why he called me over as I was gathering my gear. He held something up, twirling it between his fingers. “This is my magic hunting charm. It has always brought me luck. I only take it out when the chips are down. Take it with you today. But do not lose it!”

I chuckled as he handed over what looked to me like a hippie trinket, a short piece of rawhide and lace with a couple of wooden beads knotted in place just above a small fluffy feather. But something in his demeanor made me realize this charm really meant something to him.

As the day wore on, I saw a few dinks and thought hard about lowering my standards, if only to get out of the cold and back into that warm lodge. With about a half hour of legal light left, I was sitting in my icebox when I remembered that I had stuffed Dean’s little trinket in my pocket. I dug it out. It was a little out of shape, and I immediately felt bad at the careless way I had carried it. So I straightened the kinked lace and feather and twirled it between my fingers as Dean had done when he told me of its power.

I’m not sure if it was just a thought or if I actually muttered the words, “If this thing is worth anything, now’s the time.” I put it back in my pack rather than squash it in my pocket again, and it wasn’t long before I saw movement through the thick underbrush. It was a big buck, picking his way through the timber.

Back at camp, after getting my back slapped and my photo taken with this monster buck, I removed the charm from my pack, twirled it between my fingers as I handed it back to Dean, and said thanks. He gave a nod of approval, and seemed proud and relieved at the same time to have this charm back in his possession. I should note that Dean has never let me use it again.

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