IT WAS A story of bad news; it was a story of good news. My opening weekend of deer season story contains the bad news of I have no buck hanging waiting for me to butcher it. The good news is that I have no buck hanging waiting for me to butcher it.

That is, if you are lazy like me, the bad news is that if you kill a buck, you need to sharpen your knife, roll up your sleeves and go to work. The good news, if you are lazy like me, is that if you don’t kill a buck, you can go to a grocery store and buy all the meat you want or need.

After five consecutive season openers of having a buck walk past my stand early opening morning, this year, I didn’t have so much as a chickadee or squirrel visit me until somewhere around 9 opening morning. It was then that a loud-mouthed raven cruised at treetop level over my head, announcing to the world its apparent displeasure of my presence.

Just after 7 opening morning, from a ridge top maybe 300 yards from where I was set up, another hunter blasted a single shot. Hopeful that the hunter was blind in one eye and couldn’t see out the other, I waited, mostly forlornly hoping that he missed and that any second, the buck he shot at would come trotting my way.

Since no buck came my way and since I didn’t walk that way to see what happened, I don’t even know if the hunter was shooting at a buck or maybe just testing his shooting skills at a penguin flying overhead.

Either way, the moment provided a tiny touch of suspense and drama to my morning hunt. It was the only moment that did.

As is usually the case when a hunter who has spent 60 openers on a deer stand, I spent my time conjuring up a moment of triumph that would be mine when a buck did come my way.

I also spent my time letting my mind wander back to the many times I did get a buck, along with the many other times when I did not. Visions of deer hunters who shared long-ago opening days with me kept running through my mind.

Uncle John passed on to an even better deer hunting stand many years ago, but I can still see his big toothy grin and hear the hearty belly laugh that was his trademark when he told the tale of an opening day buck he killed from a stand just across a ridge from me. At age 15, I was happy for him and a little jealous, too.

It was that opening day when my brother shot his first buck, or at least all but my dad were led to believe was his first. When he did shoot a buck Thanksgiving morning, the true story of his opening day eight-pointer, which only he and my dad knew the truth of, came out.

It seems opening day he was sitting on the edge of a clear cut. Another hunter, at the other far end of the clear cut shot at the buck, but it kept on running until it piled up just into the woods about 50 yards from my brother.

The shooter never so much as came into the clear cut to look for any sign of a hit so after waiting a few hours, my brother said the heck with it, gutted the deer and dragged it to the cabin, meeting my dad on the way. Dad advised him to lie like heck to the rest of us, to regale us with an account of his deadeye shooting and his expertise in silently stalking the unwary buck.

Grandpa Maines, who was my hero and the hero of all of us boys who grew up learning from him, occasionally earning his praise, sometimes earning a gruff rebuke, taught me one very simple lesson about deer hunting.

Sitting with him on a late-season stand on a day when the thermometer read something south of 10 above, I learned the trick of filling a big coffee can with charcoal. With charcoal glowing, a wool army blanket across our laps and the can between our legs, we stayed warm as toast or, at least, it felt that warm.

Now, I find myself at an age where you could consider me an aging hunter. I know that there are many days that parts of me wonder why I still sit on a deer stand, especially when I feel the aches and pains of a surgically repaired knee, a back supported by a pair of bulged disks and a shoulder that sometimes is still balky despite the excellent work of a surgeon who repaired the torn biceps tendon, rotator cuff and labrum in it.

But you know what? Those days when I wonder why I want to sit somewhere and freeze my tail off, I very quickly remember exactly why I still hunt.

It is the memories of deer hunts and hunters of my past, the anticipation that maybe this will be the day “Mr. Big” 10-pointer comes my way and the love of still being able to roam woods I have roamed from childhood and that gets me back on an opening day stand every year.

Perhaps, in the three days since writing this, I will have filled my tag. Maybe I will have already had to use a freshly sharpened knife. Maybe, just maybe, I will be going to the grocery store to stock up on beef, chicken and pork.

Depending on how you look at it, the news might be good, bad or both.