Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Deer Hunting 12/8/2014

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I was pleasantly surprised when I viewed the hits on the blog and found that the two most popular posts weren't my Fishing Adventures or my Auburn Realist posts, which typically are heavily viewed (well, for me). 

Believe it or not, it was the Squirrel Hunting and my last Deer Hunting posts. 

What was even more surprising was that the deer hunting post didn't even feature a kill! 

But, I remembered what this blog stands for and why I started writing it to begin with. Being outdoors and enjoying nature isn't just enjoyable when you have success. Yet, most of us read stories online and all we see is the success of others. It can sway your way of thinking of outdoor sports. Instead, I started this blog as an unedited and no-holds-barred account of my adventures. Along the way I found that writing about my struggles ultimately profited me more than just writing about the successes. 

And, for that, I have a pretty good following from people that like to see the realism. And, I would take avid followers like you guys any day. 

So, let's talk about the last two hunting trips and laugh together. 

Monday afternoon I left work and headed to the hunting camp. I texted my uncle to let him know I was coming, where I was going to be, and that SOMETHING was going to die tonight, though I halfway expected that to be my pride. 

I had a bit of a revelation the other day. I had been passing up does on every trip, other than the muzzle loader miss I had in November. Sometimes a buck would show up, none of which were shooters, and sometimes they wouldn't. In all cases, I messed around and didn't take a shot at a doe. Then, I would kick myself for not shooting a doe. Well, that's HALF accurate. I would get home and my wife would ask where her meat was. So, I thought....this is stupid. I need to get some meat in the freezer. That will alleviate any decisions conundrums. So. First shot I got.....I was taking it. 

My uncle and dad had suggested I use a metal stand on the opposite side of the green field from the shooting house I typically use. Because I have become spoiled, I really wasn't considering that option. They build a heckova shooting house that is mighty cozy. I wasn't really excited to hunt in a metal stand where I couldn't move around, drink Mt. Dew, and read my book. I would actually have to hunt.

But, they had pointed out from their experience that the deer take a path much closer to the metal stand and that the bucks don't typically venture out into the field, but hug the woods right by the stand. I admit that the does I have watched from the shooting house don't come very close to me and that I have passed on shots that I wouldn't pass in that metal stand. 

So, the backpack with my snacks, book, and tablet, were left in the car. I actually had to bundle up because of the wind. Up the stand I went. The field is behind my back. The woods road right below me. In front of me is a swampy area. 

I found myself craning my neck to view the field more than I did watching the swamp in front of me. Every once in awhile, I watched the squirrels play in the swamp. As I typically do, I mentally make a note of where they are and ignore their noise. After an hour or so, the constant and interrupted gate of the squirrels was replaced by a different cadence...a steady and precise series of crunching leaves, but coming from the same spot. Eventually my subconscious got my attention and I looked up just in time to see 4 deer cross the road from the swamp in to the wood line of the field. It was a lead doe, followed by two young deer, followed by another doe. Because they were on my extreme right, there was zero chance that I could swing my gun around and take aim. I might could pull off a left handed shot, as I did last year....but I decided not to chance it. After all, I was positive the deer would end up in the field behind me. 

So, I waited. And waited. And waited. Now, that wasn't to be unexpected. These deer frequently come out late. And so they did. Two of them. Again, that isn't surprising. The does frequently leave the fauns behind while they feed. It isn't surprising for the fauns to wait until the last rays of the sun before joining their moms. 

I waited as the does crossed behind me, from my right to my left. Eventually, they were on the right side for me to get the scope lined up. But, they had managed to walk away from me a good bit, making this a pretty far shot. Now, in the shooting house, I can take a rest and take a good steady aim. I wouldn't hesitate to shoot 200-250 yards. But, there were no rests to be taken. I was standing up and shooting off-hand. The shot would be around 100 yards. Not very far, but far enough that I could watch the cross hairs dance on the deer. I tried to pick out which one looked larger, recalling that the does I saw earlier had a definite size difference, though they were both full grown.  These two looked identical, though I admitted that they were pretty far away and it might be hard to tell. 

Neither were broadside to me, so I had to wait. Let me tell you, that gun gets heavy after you have been holding it up for several minutes. Eventually one did turn. I lined it up, made a mental note of exactly where my shot would take place,  and let it rip. 

Man, this 30-06 is loud. 

The deer dropped.

I made sure that the deer stayed down as I watched the other sprint off. I unloaded the gun and headed down the ladder. 

As I gathered myself at the bottom of the ladder, I looked up towards where I expected to find my meat. And the deer was standing there. Now. Just for a second I thought about jacking a round and making SURE it didn't get off. But, I learned a tough lesson last year in the exact same situation. See, I took a LLLOONNNGGG shot at a deer, it dropped, and when I looked up a few minutes later. there it stood. So, I shot it again....only to find out that I had shot a young deer with its twin...and the twin came back to check on it. 

So, I held off, even though I didn't see the body of the other one. 

Strange, I thought. That a full grown doe wouldn't be smart enough to know that when it hears that sound and see its friend go down, to take off and stay gone. Only a faun wouldn't know better.

See where I am going with this?

Then I started thinking. What if those 4 deer had kept walking and this was a different set of deer altogether? 

Sure enough, I had popped a yearling. I called dad and told him. He wasn't happy. I told my uncle, who wasn't as mad as he should be as head hauncho. It didn't take dad long to laugh about it, though. I beat myself up over it enough for all 3. I will admit that I made a gorgeous shot, however. So...no pics. Sorry.  

I had an itchy trigger finger. I made a bad assumption. And I didn't follow some guidelines that my dad and uncle have shared. 

  • When it comes to deer at range, if they are both the same size, it's impossible to establish their true size.
  • Full grown does have long snouts. Fauns have short snouts. I admit that I didn't think about that.
  • When deer come out in a pair like this, it is typically yearling twins who have left the mother.  
Anyway, I was able to throw it in a tote and put it in the backseat of the Yukon. When I dropped it off with my processor, he said:

"Well, at least it will be good eating!"