After anticipating and gestating for a full nine months, it’s finally deer season! And in keeping with the reproductive theme, it’s only fitting that I’m greeting opening day of Montana’s archery season – and the first day of Record Quest field reports – with my son, Merlin.

We are hunkered inside a ground blind – Primos’ spacious Double Bull – presiding over a holiday parade of deer. First a family group of a doe and twin fawns, then a gaggle of adolescents, the young bucks sparring playfully and the girls alternately demure and boisterous. Then a trio of big 2-year-olds or small 3-year-olds strolled past, but got blow-up nervous at some unseen danger.
We’ve seen a tiny fawn bleat for its mother, milling around in front of the blind that we could bean it with a Wiffle ball. We thoroughly confounded it by making squeaky bleats back, and it replied with a mix of hope and fear.

The coolest thing about sitting here is seeing – up close and in real time – all these deer I’ve been watching for the past 6 weeks on my trail cam cards. There is that rangy doe with the droopy ear, there’s the little 4-point basket buck who’s always with the girls. There’s the buck with the brow tines that angle toward each other.

It’s also interesting to see which bucks have shed their velvet and which are still in fuzz. Generally, the older bucks are hard-horned; the juniors still have velvet.

I’ll quit typing now. A big, light-caped deer are cutting across the field, and Merlin, manning the binos, is hissing at me to pay attention. So long for now.