Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Deer Hunting 12/22/14

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After wrapping up what little I had to do yesterday (oh, and writing an article about Auburn's Offense in 2015), I called my dad to discuss an afternoon hunt. In particular, the rain had moved in around lunch time, and while it wasn't a downpour, I was interested in hearing his thoughts on the deer's movement.  

He said that he had hunted that morning and had failed to see anything. I saw that as an opportunity. Now, I know it is flawed logic, but part of me thought "well, they have to move SOMETIME." Additionally, we looked at the weather for the remainder of the week, and it didn't look good. So, if I was going to get out, I better do it today. 

After additional thought, dad said "you know, if the rain DOES stop, the bucks will be out to check their scrapes." I couldn't predict the rain, but I figured it would worth a shot. 

First, I had to ship some books I sold of my Amazon account. You know what you want to avoid on December 22nd? The post office. And, you especially want to avoid it right after lunch. The line was out the door and into the rain. Apparently everyone needs to ship things for Christmas. Go figure. After spending two weeks wondering where my GoPro was, I finally found it the other day, but I left it at home. I thought about turning around to picking it up, but the amount of time I spent at the post office put me in a bind. 

So, I managed to get out of there without losing my mind and I headed to the hunting club. The rain slacked up. This was a GOOD thing. 

I was in the shooting house and ready to watch a hundred of them come bounding into the field. An hour past and I hadn't seen anything. Not surprising, really. The deer really like this field right at dusk. So, I busted out Hugh Howey's "Wool." I had around 50 pages or so left. If I wasn't going to see anything, I was going to kick back and relax. I finished it around 4PM. Good book. Review coming soon. 

Now I was beginning to get frustrated. I hadn't seen anything. Nothing. Usually there is at least a doe or two that walks THROUGH the green field. So, I decided to do something DRASTIC. Well, at least for me. First, some back-story. 

The other day, dad and I went to lunch. While I was there, I decided to visit Dick's Sporting Goods, since I had all this free cash they sent me in the mail. Like, I had a free $10 card and a $5 off $25 or something. Well, I needed some .22 for squirrel hunting. I am picky when it comes to .22 and I wanted some CCI ammo. Of course they didn't have it. But, they did have a sale on Strike King 6XDs. I picked up a few of them, especially since they had a few of the silent models that are so hard to find locally. 

While I was there, I went to look in the hunting section. I needed a few items such as doe pee , items that I don't usually carry. Turns out, they had almost all of their hunting stuff on clearance. In particular, a Buckmaster grunt call. I've used my dad's grunt call before, but it isn't part of my arsenal. I usually employ a much simpler hunting style. that is...I show up. I don't use scents or calls. And, if my phone battery makes it all the way until dusk, I was paying more attention than normal. But, I will admit that my uncle and dad have pointed at the obvious: that's why I don't have a monster buck on my wall. Ironically, the young cashier failed to take the coupons...just my luck.

So, I got the grunt call out. Tooted on it a few times and waited 15 minutes. Gave it another grunt. 

I found myself watching the corner that the deer frequent. I would sweep the remainder of the field every few minutes to make sure I wasn't missing anything. 

It's a good thing I did. From the southwest corner of the field, a deer was charging at me at near full speed. It was obvious it was a buck, but was it a legal shooter? 

He was running right at me and I hesitated to jerk the rifle up for fear that he would see me. But he was moving so fast that I didn't have much of a choice. 

I got the rifle up, put the scope on him and hope that he would give me enough time to evaluate his side and give me a shot. With him coming right at me, it was easy to see that his antlers were outside of his ears. So, he was legal, but he wasn't giving me any chance to get a shot. If I let him get right up to me, I might not ever get a shot. The sun was disappearing behind the wood line behind him. 

So, I did what all good hunters would do. When he got under 100 yards from me, I yelled at him.


He stopped in his tracks.I thumbed the safety off. Then he made the fatal mistake. He turned broadside just before he took off in a dead sprint. He made about 3 gallops before I pulled the trigger. He took off at full speed to my right, but he had buckled first and his gait was slightly off. I was sure that I hit him, but the question was: did his first few steps pull the shot back too far to his rear? He made it 75 yards before he ever checked up. I was starting to worry because he wasn't laboring. He just looked to have felt comfortable with how far he had run. But, he made a misstep. Then another. Then fell. 

Turns out, I compensated for his run very well. Maybe even a touch too much. I pulled the shot about 3 inches up and 2 inches forward than I would like. But, judging by how much trouble I've had with this gun..er....the cheap scope I replaced... I can report that I have fixed all the issues. This is now about 5 shots in a row that have been simply dead-on. How did I fix it? Well, I employed my post:  Firearms: Understanding the Performance of Your Rifle Through Trials and Tribulations

One of the things I love about the outdoors, whether it's hunting or fishing, is that any day can become great in an instant. The only way to ensure that you don't have a great day is to not try.