Do You Believe In “Just Deserts”?

There is a prevailing thought in some people that through their actions they earn some type of consequence. Call it Karma. Or as the saying goes, just deserts.

Simply put, if you are a good person good things will happen to you and conversely, if you’re an asshole in life you’ll get what you deserve.

On the first day of deer hunting season I observed random incidents and environmental cues and convinced myself “luck was on my side”. I ended up harvesting two nice deer that day and chalked it up to the universe paying me back for doing things the right way.

What is luck? Some cosmic force manipulating outcomes to reward a do-gooder?

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. I know the property I hunt and where the deer tend to be. I have a rifle that’s zeroed in and I’m good with. By putting myself in a higher percentage situation I increased my odds. Sure, that doesn’t guarantee anything. But I was prepared. And opportunity presented itself.

I hunt with my dad. It’s been three years since he has taken a deer. Because he only pulls the trigger when he’s positive he has a kill shot. It’s a lesson I believe in too.

Later in the hunting season the deer are very hard to find. After several weeks of hunting pressure they find the least accessible areas to hide in. That’s how they survive. By being tougher and smarter than most any human.

It was my father’s birthday. It’s a treat to hunt with him that day. It feels special. When in reality it’s just another day. But I thought I’d try our “luck”. I had my dad sit on a stump at the boarder of our property and I went into a large briar patch where big bucks like to hide. We had spotted a 10 point buck twice this year in this area.

As I started my way through the briar patch I heard two shots from the field on the other side. Far away. I continued on with my plan to make a circle back towards my dad, hoping to push a deer his way.

As I walked I could see something unmistakable. Tan and white under a tree. I checked my scope and sure enough, it’s a deer’s side and belly. Must be bedded down. I quietly and slowly snuck in on the deer. I become quite impressed with my ability to move in on it without it hearing me. I’m like a Forrest Ninja. Up until the point I realized it was a dead deer I was sneaking in on. SHIT! I walked up and found a decent sized 8 point buck with no visible gun shot wound. But it’s rear leg is broken. I feel sick to my stomach. I know exactly what happened. Someone took a careless shot at a running deer and never followed it long enough to check for blood. That’s unethical. Something I would NEVER do.

I started back on my way and then I spotted someone walking down the field toward the briars. I decided to walk up and meet them. As the man approached I asked him “Did you shoot a deer?”

He says “not today.”

I tell him I found a deer laying in the brush. I was wondering if he shot it.

He says “must be the one I shot at across the field a few days ago”

I reply “It’s a real shame to see a deer just go to waste. It was shot in the rear leg. That’s why I only pull the trigger when I see front shoulder.”

“Yeah, well it was still dark, and it was running..” he says

“That’s why I only pull the trigger when I see front shoulder…” I was struggling to keep my words measured and my blood from boiling over.

This wasn’t my property, so I can’t tell people how to hunt there. If it was my property, different story. Much different conversation.

I went on my way but had to alter my course because this guy was walking the edge of the briars.

As I walked I tried to block out the negative thoughts and refocus on enjoying the hunt with my dad. Time to get him a birthday buck! Several moments later I hear five shots from the field. I walk in that direction and find the man I just had the encounter with standing over a 10 point buck. The one I was after. I pushed it right to him.

Did I deserve that deer for my efforts to hunt properly?

Was that deer meant for my dad as a reward for a lifetime of ethical hunting and because it’s his birthday?

We know the answers. The universe is random. Good things happen to bad people. Sometimes comically, right in your face in spectacular fashion. As if to remind you that the reason I do things “the right way” isn’t because I expect to get handed something on a silver platter. I do it because at the end of the day; win, lose, or draw, I can look myself in the mirror and be proud of my efforts and intentions.

That’s why I smile every time I throw a steak on the grill. Because I know I’ve earned it.