Thursday, December 28, 2017

Deer Hunting Christmas 2017

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Try as I might, I haven't been able to get my kids interested in bass fishing as much as I'd like. I admit that I am not a great "fun fisherman." In my quest to get better as a tournament angler, I have lost some of that charm. 

You can imagine my surprise when suddenly all three kids are interested in deer hunting. To me, I would think it would be the other way around. Bass fishing can be done in pleasant weather and it's typically a lot more action-packed. Obviously, you can go days without seeing the first deer and in many of those days, the weather can be downright awful. 

But, when the kids ask to go, you gotta take them, right? Of course, we had to separate into shifts as three kids didn't fit in the shooting houses, even as nice and large as they are. 

For the second time in the last few years, I had a shot when I had the kids with me. This time it was my two older kids. And, like last time, I likely rushed the shot and I probably shouldn't have done that considering it was bordering on 300 yards. The doe just stared at me and I racked another round, presented with another golden opportunity. This one missed as well and I didn't bother to shoot again as I had taken my time on the second shot and realized the gun must be off. 

The next day, I took Aubree and we did some sighting in. Sure enough, the gun was 6 inches low at just 75 yards. We remedied that and it was time to hit the woods. 
First trip, I took Aubree, the oldest. We were able to see a big four point and a couple of smaller deer, but no bucks or does worth shooting, much to her chagrin. Over the next few days, she begged and begged me to go, but it was the boys' turn next. I went to the store, got them snacks and drinks and warned them NOT to drink it all and NOT to fight. Well, you can guess what happened! 

On the next trip, we again saw the 4-pointer and it was awesome for the boys to get to watch him. I didn't see my first buck for probably three or four years of hunting! They got so excited that their movement scared him away. I couldn't be mad. They were really enjoying themselves.  As darkness moved upon us, we were presented with several does, but each of them had a faun with them and I thought it would be bad form to shoot them, especially with the boys with me. 

But, an opportunity presented itself in the form of an injured deer limping across the field. It was nearing dusk and I didn't have much time to put the binoculars on the deer to see what kind it was. In the end, I made a judgement call that no matter if it was a buck or doe, I needed to put the deer out of its misery as it was limping badly. I warned the boys and pulled the trigger. The deer went down and the boys witnessed their first kill. It ended up being a small buck that had a front shoulder completely out of place. The boys didn't mind. They were very excited! 

A few days went by and my dad killed a really nice buck. Work had been slow and I was looking at an afternoon of sitting in the office, at home or perhaps hunting. The issue with hunting was that the wind was pretty bad. In my experience, high wind is normally a killer for deer hunting. It throws off multiple senses for the deer and they stay hunkered down.

I texted my dad and he said that the rut was on and that it would easily cover up the wind, as far as the bucks were concerned. I took his word and, besides, what did I have to lose? 

Since the kids were with my mom, I knew this was the best opportunity for me to get a good buck. But, after the first hour, the only deer I had seen was a little spike that I have seen several other times. However, knowing that the rut was on, this was the perfect chance to use him as bait for a bigger deer. I broke out the grunt call and began grunting, as long as he was in the field. 

He made two complete laps of the field and every 15 minutes, I would make some grunts. Around 4:45, movement caught my eye and it was the last place I expected to see a deer. For at my back, just yards away, was the Flint River. A set of deer had crossed the river and were now just on my side of the tree line. One was obviously a buck, so I picked up the binocs. At first glance, it looked like a big six. 

Though his antlers stood outside his ears ( a club rule), a six pointer didn't meet the agenda. But, upon further review, he did have a set of brow tines that made him an eight. I took the shot and the deer dropped.

It ended up being a gorgeous young buck. He wasn't a monster, but he will be mighty tasty! Now it's time to find a giant!