Why I'll Never Be an Urban Deer Hunter

In the September issue, Frank Miniter wrote a great piece about hunting "Greenway Ghosts," giving you the information you need to kill a mature whitetail buck in the suburbs. Hunting near town is a proven tactic for taking big bucks and it's critical for managing whitetail populations. That being said, it's something I'm just not cut out for.

Last weekend, packing a compound and a climber, my buddy Mike and I slogged through a Connecticut swamp that was lined with "Desperate Housewives" style homes and gardens. Well before sunrise I set up on a little oak ridge between the homes and thick swamp for my first sit of the deer season.

I've never hunted so close to civilization before, but I'm almost out of venison and this spot is only 65 miles away from my Brooklyn apartment … so, why not?

As the sun came up, I could see the roof of a house through the canopy. By 8 a.m. the neighborhood started waking up. Dogs barked, construction crews went to work, and an ambulance screamed its way to some unforeseen emergency.

The mini-wilderness I had enjoyed during the twilight hours had disappeared. By 10 a.m. Mike and I decided to call it a morning. On the walk out we could see some kids playing in a yard with their dog.

Then Mike spotted a lone doe facing away from us at 35 yards. She knew we were there but didn't spook, simply flicking her tail and moving up the ridge 15 yards. I nocked an arrow and Mike hit the grunt tube. She turned and came back to the call. I drew back when she got to 40 yards but couldn't get the perfect shot I wanted.

She kept slowly working her way closer and just as she turned broadside, I got drilled by a bee. Somehow the bee had crawled into my shirt and found his way to my armpit where he decided to unleash a surge of apitoxin. I swatted at my shirt and the doe walked off.

Bad luck? Maybe. Or maybe the bowhunting gods were trying to tell me something? Deer hunting for me has always been a way to escape the world that humans have manufactured, and it's pretty hard to do that when there's a guy mowing his lawn 200 yards away.

Next weekend I think I'll drive the extra miles and head upstate. I'll hike into the hills until I find a place to hang my treestand where the only noise I can hear is acorns falling.