My wife wonders why every serious bowhunter in Wisconsin wants to shoot Aaron Rodgers.

Addiction to the Hallmark Channel has her so traumatized by this concept that she missed the point of my analogy comparing the whitetail rut to a Packers game.

My mistake was trying to explain this important concept to her while she was watching one of the 200 shows about sappy love at Christmas.

The analogy was really about defensive driving. Deer are at peak rut. If she sees a doe running across Milton Avenue, she should look for the buck that is probably chasing it.

The similarities between a Packers game and the deer rut came to me last Sunday afternoon while sitting in the woods, leisurely scanning for horizontal shapes in a vertical world, trying to remain motionless.

Experience teaches the best way to see deer in the woods before they see you is a passive scan looking for out-of-place horizontal shapes between the trees instead of looking for deer.

This skill is easier to cultivate when serious thought is focused on more important things like fishing and football.

I was still savoring the vision of the Bears’ kicker snatching defeat from the probable jaws of victory and thinking about the Pack on Sunday Night Football a couple hours after the “prime time” window for deer movement around sunset when the concept of Aaron Rodgers—THE dominant buck of football—became the primary focus of mental gymnastics.

The deer just weren’t moving in my neck of the woods last Sunday afternoon. Arrow-worthy whitetails are certainly there, as evidenced by fresh scrapes, rubs and low-light photos on trail cameras.

Natural sign and lack of horizontal shapes in a mostly vertical world convinced me that those cedar-skinning trail-cam bucks were already “locked down” with does in estrus—like Geronimo Allison or Jimmy Graham snagging one on the first possession and taking it to the house.

The Pack has a legion of stars not wearing 60s or 70s on their jerseys that No. 12—THE dominant buck—will connect with when the time is right. There isn’t a girly man in the bunch.

But for the sake of this illustration, let’s call them all does in estrus.

Mr. Rodgers has been nailing every one of ‘em with the ball for a couple weeks already. But there are still a couple of Packers that have been running around for the entire game without the opportunity to cradle the pigskin.

This week is the fourth quarter: the peak of rut.

Bowhunters are the opposing team.

Defensive ends and linebackers are dressed up like enchanted stumps. The game is close. All the players are exhausted.

The dominant buck is forced to take chances, dodging between trees—with numbers in the 50s on them—in an attempt to put just a couple more points on the scoreboard.

A daring shovel pass to Davante Adams with seconds left on the clock puts the ball on the bowhunter’s 28-yard line.

Fourth down. A just-outside-the-ears eight-pointer that looks a lot like Mason Crosby comes trotting out on the field.

What are you going to do?

My wife looked up from her Kindle, glanced at the Schmaltz on the Hallmark Channel one more time, then gave me that “deer in the headlights” look. She could care less about the peak of the deer rut.

In a last-ditch attempt to get her to watch for that second deer when cruising down Milton Avenue, I had to spill the beans.

“The Mountie gets killed and leaves his pregnant bride a widow on Christmas Eve,” I blurted out.

This revelation got her undivided attention.

“And just how do you know THAT?” she asked incredulously.

“How ‘bout those Packers?” I replied over my shoulder, on the way to a no-scent shower before heading back to the woods.

Ted Peck, a certified Merchant Marine captain, is an outdoors columnist for The Gazette. Email him at tedpeck@acegroup.ccc

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