Update December Session 2003 Deer Season

Friday December 12th, the evening before the December session opener, heavy snow in the forecast. It was just me and my nephew this time around.

We woke to 3 inches of fresh snow and it was still coming down. About an hour in the stand and I was not having fun anymore. The snow was blowing around in the tower, in my face, on my back, just couldn't get away from it. I headed back to the trailer and met up with my nephew. We decided the deer had found a nice warm barn to stand in somewhere because neither of us had seen anything moving or any tracks.

The snow finally quit around 2pm but nothing ever moved that day.

We sat after dinner and discussed different tactics for finding the deer and how we might go about psyching them out. This part of the state is so isolated that as soon as the deer figure out that we are in the neighborhood, they just move into the next neighborhood and there is no one to push them back.

We decided to try the new farm on Sunday morning so we made the trek over there early and hoped for the best. I had decided to sit in the southwest corner of the property in a location that offered a huge field of view. The nephew opted for the east end where had had killed a small buck in November.

It was windy of course, so even what should have been a perfect morning what with the fresh snow and all, was proving fruitless. The birds were not even moving. After about an hour, I decided I would walk the couple hundred yards to the west fence while following a finger of woods that held plenty of sign earlier in the season.

I thought about our conversation from the night before and how we might play mind games with the deer and accidentally score. So I stood up, laid my rifle down on my duffle bag and prepped the 45 Blackhawk under my arm for action. Took the scope covers off and left the velcro holster strap un-fastened. I figured if the deer don't see a gun barrel sticking up on my shoulder from my sling, maybe they would ignore me until it was too late.

What happened next caught me totally off guard. I walked about 100 yards with no concern about noise or arm movement, just walked like I was out for a Sunday stroll. I spotted something brown on the ground in the edge of the timber about 50 yards away. It spotted me at the same time. I dropped to my knee and about pulled my shoulder out of the socket trying to yank the pistol out of the holster. The velcro strap had flipped back over and locked the gun down. It didn't matter, the deer was much faster than my quick draw could have ever been.

The deer jumped to it's feet took 2 steps and froze. The 2 steps put it in heavier brush and I could tell there was more than one that stood up but could not pick any of them out in the brush. I managed to get the pistol out but I still had not been able to spot them in the brush but knew they were there, watching me. I took 2 steps hoping to get a clear view of at least one of them and that was all it took. I heard a snort and saw 3 white flags. That was the end of that. They vanished into thin air as they are so good at doing.

Disgusted, I headed back to my seat and pondered my next brain storm. Then off to the east, I heard my 30-30 cut loose at the hands of my nephew. 3 shots rang out. Hoping against all odds that 1 or 2 deer lay dead, I waited. After about 30 minutes, I fired up the 4 wheeler and headed his direction. The nephew was down in the woods, obviously looking for sign of a hit. When he finally gave up the search, we headed back to the other farm. With out spewing too many 4 letter words, I encouraged him to set up a target and do a little practicing. We pulled out the shooting bench, set up a target and he proceeded to burn up half a box of ammo.

We finished the weekend with nothing to tag out. I had to work on Monday but had the rest of the week and the next weekend off to continue my effort at trying to get a shot.

I dug my old steel traps out of the attic, scattered a few of them around the new farm and worked on finding a deer in the mean time. I had not trapped in nearly 20 years and it was a blast. It brought back all those old memories from my teenage years when I ran a small trap line. The first night, a couple of the traps were dug up and the week was un-eventful on the trap line except for one dumb opossum. He was not hurt so I let him loose.

Still, after all that time in the woods during the week, I had not been able to find a deer. My brother and one of his buddies came up in the middle of the week and even between the three of us, we could not get a shot.

Friday evening, the wind subsided and made for a calm hour or so before dark. As I sat in an old tree stand, my butt was going through the folding stool so I stood up and leaned against the tree. Finally, when there was almost no light left, I spotted a deer. I saw her through an opening in the trees about 100 yards out. She had her back to me and had no clue I was there. I took my thick hunting glove off, steadied the Ruger compact against a tree, took a couple of deep breaths and squeezed the trigger. I know I didn't blink because the muzzle blast burned my eyeballs as the little 16.5 inch barrel belched flames at the deer.

I saw her bolt into the brush and vanish. I waited, with the light fading fast. I gave it about 10 minutes and snuck down out of the stand. I had attempted another mind game and it had paid off. I had left the 5th wheel and snuck into the treestand on foot. Leaving the radio on in the trailer and the 4-wheeler sitting silently beside the trailer. For all she knew, everyone at the farm was at the trailer.

Sneaking from the stand and all the way back to the 5th wheel, I retrieved my 3 cell mag light and the 4-wheeler. Confident I would need it to drag her out.

I returned to where she had been standing only to find a handful of white hair. By now, it was pitch black out. I looked for about an hour and gave it up. The forecast called for temps well below freezing, she would keep overnight so I figured I would be able to find better sign and hopefully the deer the next morning.

The next morning, I sat in my tower which is in sight of the treestand I had shot from the night before. The plan was to sit for an hour or so and then go look for my deer.

I had been in the tower about 15 minutes, long enough to see a beautiful sunrise underway, when I spotted a deer moving about 150 yards out in front of the tower. Too far for my naked eyes, I quietly raised the Ruger compact and prepared for a shot. I could see 2 or 3 does but they acted as if they knew I was there. I quickly chose the best shot, squeezed the trigger and down she went. It looked like a flock of white pigeons took off in the trees. Whitetails flagging all over a little stand of oaks out in front of me. As quietly as possible, I pulled the bolt back on the rifle. Hoping to flip the brass out into my hand and not let it clatter to the floor of the tower, some how, I managed to flip the brass around backward on top of the magazine and stuck it in the action.

So there I stand trying to keep one eye on the timber and one eye on this piece of brass. I fished it out in time to see the herd moving into the open out the right end of my tower. My best guess put the herd size at 12 to 14 deer. Now they are standing in the open about 125 yards away and strangely not hauling butt to the next county. I slipped the barrel over the wall of the tower, picked out my best shot and squeezed the trigger. She bolted and ran about 20 yards and went down. This time the brass hit the floor of the tower before she hit the ground. I started to nail a 3rd one and decided I was probably pushing my luck. So I watched them depart and I stood there in disbelief. I had spent countless hours in the woods this season and now, 15 minutes into the day, I had seen 12 to 14 deer, put 2 of them down and passed on a 3rd.

I took one of the deer to the trailer and one of the hunting buddies had just pulled in. I explained all that had transpired including the shot fired the evening before. He went back with me to get the second deer and while I field dressed her, he went to track the missing deer

I joined the search and spent the next hour or 2 coming to the conclusion that my shot had evidently failed to connect the evening before. At least from what we could tell, it had not been a fatal shot. No evidence of any kind other than the hair that I had found the evening before. I even went back later in the day when the sun was at a different angle and still found no sign.

I decided I would sit in my tower that afternoon until dark. As the light faded, I felt stupid for taking the shot the evening before and decided that I would get out of the tower and take a short walk while there was a still some good light. Maybe, I would not have to wait until the last ray of light for a shot.

I walked a couple of hundred yards to the north and as I headed back to the tower to retrieve my stuff, I spotted 2 does standing out in the open on the other side of a patch of brush. I shouldered the rifle and prepared to take one of them and realized that if the shot did not put her down right there in view, I could easily loose her. So I held the rifle in position for what seemed like 5 days and decided against pulling the trigger. They were headed my way, I had hoped that they might come through the brush and step into view behind me. One of them did just that. I squatted down and shouldered the rifle again. She was standing in a shadowing opening and was all but invisible. I could see an ear and an eye and almost make out a shoulder but she would not move out out into view or at least move enough that I could tell which way she was standing. Finally, she appeared in full view and had her back to me.

I couldn't do it. She presented the same shot I had screwed up the evening before and all she would have to do would be to take 2 steps in either direction and she would be gone. I had 2 deer headed for the freezer and she'll be there next season.

I started writing this before Christmas but didn't get it finished up. So, I will just note here that Santa brought me a New Ruger Model 77 stainless synthetic in my favorite caliber, .243.

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Last Modified: Wednesday, November 25, 2009 7:53 AM