Update November 2004

Holy Cows !

What a great deer season !

Opening day was November 13th for the first session. The first half of the day was pretty un-eventful. Overnight it had been down in the 20's and clear as a bell. We all expected to see deer early opening morning but only a couple of deer were sighted. Late afternoon was a horse of a different color.

At almost 4 o'clock and I spotted a white flicker down in the brush about 200 yards away. With binoculars, I watched as a nice doe tormented me by moving in and out of sight. Never really giving me a decent shot. She even laid down in the brush at one point and I could barely make out the silhouette of her head. I kept my wits about me some how and it paid off. Nearly 45 minutes passed and she trotted out of the brush with 2 yearlings in tow. A nice buck was following them but detoured just short of coming out in the open. I checked his rack quickly and it was obvious that he did not have the required 4 point per side minimum.

Off to the right of them, another large doe appeared in plain view. A shot from my .243 dropped her in her tracks and knowing they would scatter, I swung back to the left and dropped one of the yearlings. Then, I saw tails waving good by, probably 4 or 5 of them put it in high gear and left the scene. I don't know where they all came from or even how they all got in there with out being seen but they did.

Within minutes of my shots, I heard my brother fire a couple of shots and one of his buddies fired a couple shots. Turns out my brother missed a trophy buck and his buddy dropped 2 does.

By the time we got them all field dressed and back from the check station it had been a really long time since lunch. We were all starving.

The next morning, I heard my brother shoot when it was still hard to see. Within minutes, I had 2 does running around in front of me. I decided they were perfect range for the pistol but by the time I got it on them they were headed away from me at a pretty good pace. Not worth the risk, I put the pistol back on the shelf and regained composure.

Over the next 30 minutes or so, I got fleeting glimpses of 3 or 4 deer and then out of no where, here came a nice fat doe. I had my 220 Ruger VT with me and really wanted to get a deer with it. I hoisted it up onto the front ledge of my tower and as soon as I got her in the scope, the gun fired. Anxious trigger finger I guess. One good reason not to hunt with light weight triggers. Anyway, she got away unscathed. I scouted the area for blood and looked for a dead deer but as suspected, I had cleanly missed.

I checked in with my brother on the radio and he informed me that the trophy he missed the night before had given him a second chance at day break. Kyle connected and put him down. A nice 10 point in anyone's book. I went over to the section he was on and helped him field dress the buck and get it back to the barn.

I parked the 220 and opted for the Ruger Compact .308. Grabbed a bite to eat and headed back to my tower. Kyle came over and sat with me for the afternoon. We had never sat together in my tower and never seem to get to spend enough time together so it was fun. We sat a whispered about all kinds of junk including the fact that I hadn't killed a buck from this tower and the fact that there had to be a monster out there in front of us somewhere.

You can write this next section I'm sure ! Kyle got out of the tower to relieve himself and had no sooner gotten down the ladder when I whispered "We got a deer out here in front of us". I grabbed for the electronic ear muffs and slid them on as I spotted antlers. I exclaimed, still in a whisper, "It's the Monster !".

My first shot rocked me but when I looked back through the scope the deer was still standing there and now looking my direction. All I could see was his head and neck. I put the cross hair on his nose dropped down 3 inches and squeezed the trigger. I saw him drop in the scope. I whispered "he's down" and Kyle scrambled quietly back into his seat.

Binoculars were useless at this point. My heart was in my throat and I was shaking like a leaf. Hell, Kyle was shaking and he hadn't even seen the deer.

We started to leave the tower 15 times over the next 10 minutes but in an effort to delay, I dug out the range finder. The spot where I thought the buck had dropped checked in at 208 yards. Of course, this only compounded the "holy shit" "I don't know if I made it or not".

After the 10 minute eternity, we climbed down out of the tower and headed that direction. Hearts racing and still trying to be quiet. As we crested the edge of the field Kyle said "there he lays". You've been there, words can't even describe it. We looked at each other, looked back at distant tower and shook our heads. From the gut pile to the tower was 202 yards. My first shot had knocked hair off his back. Why he didn't bolt and leave the country is anybody's guess. But it was his mistake because the next 110 grain pill broke his neck.

3 days before season, I had fired this group with the Ruger Compact. I adjusted the scope right a half inch and up 1 inch, fired a couple more shots to verify the adjustments and called it good. All the trips to the range paid off. I have said it elsewhere but this is exactly why being able to hit a paper plate at a hundred yards is "Not" adequate. A deer's neck at 200 yards ain't real big ! Why did I miss the first shot ? I over compensated for bullet drop and I tried to hit him in the chest, which I could barely make out in the brush. The shot was in line with his heart but I aimed about 3 inches too high. His neck was in plain sight and I should have gone there first.

I recovered 58 grains of the bullet from the neck of the buck. There was an exit hole so I assume at least part of it made it all the way through. I had to separate out the bone chips from the bullet pieces but obviously it was effective.

The little Ruger Compact is very quickly becoming my favorite rifle. When you can sit in your stand in all your hunting clothes and get that puppy to your shoulder at just about any angle, it makes you a believer real quick.

An interesting side note: Either Saturday or early Sunday (the days kind of run together), I filmed a small buck with my camcorder. He walked into plain site briefly and then into some brush. I could still see movement so I kept filming. Later, when I watched the film on the television screen I was stunned at what I saw. The small buck had in fact stepped in behind brush but the continued movement was not him. He kept going and walked out of the camera frame. The "movement" that I continued to see was the large buck that I killed Sunday afternoon. No telling how long he had been there or where he went. When I could no longer see movement in the brush, I stopped filming. Had I put down the camera and picked up binoculars, I might have killed the big buck sooner. I assumed all the movement had been the small buck so I didn't bother with the binoculars. The small buck had traveled about 150 yards to walk past the larger buck. Interesting behavior !



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