The eight-point buck ambled past me at arm's hength, they said. The pair of Canada geese hovered 20 yards in front of my blind zipping low over my hilltop shooting station all afternoon, they said.

I was asleep when all these animals attempted to crawl into my game bag. it is in fact an even bet that I will be asleep when any opportunity arises afield.

The problem - if it is one - comes from the fact that much of hunting is simply waiting as quiet and still as possible for hours at a time. Since there usually is a predawn start and a long drive involved, a severe case of the yawns can be expected.

A longtime obsever of the annual deer hunts in Fort Valley, outside Front Royal, complains that the whitetail population remains at unhealthy high levels because "all the hunters is out there laying up in the woods asleep instead of moving around stirring up the deer like they should be."

He may be right. But to me no nap is more refreshing than one taken lying in autuma leaves or under a snow-covered hemlock, Usually I wake without moving and find that the wildlife around me has resumed the pattern my arrival had disturbed. There is a knoll in West Virginia where I opened my eyes to find a field mouse sitting on my knee, a doe and fawn grazing 30 yards away and a pilested woodpecker drumming on a snag 30 close above me that my vest was sprinkled with sawdust and splinters.

Another bocus is the dreams. In them the birds always fold cleanly, the deer are never gutshot, the big one never gets away. Sometimes the point at which musing drifts into dreaming is blurred; I may or may not have been face-to-face with a very large black bear last year. I know it really did rain dead wood ducks along the upper Potomac one sunny afternoon this fall, because I have them in the freezer.

And then there was Moby Dove, a humpbacked, pure - white pigson as big as the Ritz, which came lumbering over the confield in which I key asleep, pecking up and swallowing gunners. I woke up checking over that one, but when a cloud moved over the sun a momment later I almostshot at it. ould catch a ride. Weeds settled America with the Europeans.

And one o