Nov 30, 2009

More hunting

A couple weeks ago, Hunting Buddy 2 and I made plans to hunt MrsZ's family farm at some point this season. We worked out scheduling and so forth and this past weekend was the way to go. Initially the plan was to go out Friday afternoon and scout/hunt, hotel Friday night, hunt all day Saturday, hotel again, hunt Sunday morning and be home by mid-day/early afternoon. We trimmed that back to hunt/scout Friday afternoon, hotel, and hunt as much of Saturday as we wanted before heading home.

I had gone out about two weeks before and hung my stand over a promising field - thick brushy grass, even thicker brush around the edges, running stream on one edge, and the woods around just loaded with oak and hickory. In short, it's deer heaven.

I reserved a hotel room for us in a Microtel about 30 minutes away; going with a non-refundable reservation meant we had a room for $50 for the night. I joked with HB2 that because our room was non-refundable, we'd likely fill all three of our tags (his buck tag and my two doe tags) Friday afternoon and have no reason to stay overnight.

Little did I know how close to the truth that would be.

The big day finally rolled around and HB2 arrived at my place around 11. We transferred his stuff to my truck, I gave MrsZ one last kiss, and we headed out under mostly cloudy skies, although the forecast was for scattered rain and snow showers in the afternoon. We ate lunch on the road and got to the farm just before 1. I gave HB2 his choice of spots with the exception of my stand; he chose to bring his chair blind along and sit in the opposite corner of the field from my stand. We were in place around 1:30 and settled in

It was cold. And damp. Maybe 33-35F, and I saw every form of precipitation possible. Rain. Drizzle. Sleet. Freezing rain. Snow. I wished repeatedly that I'd put on the extra layer of clothing that was in the back seat of the truck. I wrapped my hands around the chemical warmers and flexed my fingers, hoping for circulation. I stood up and did a few squats to get blood into my feet again. The northwest wind was a steady 10-15mph and cutting the field diagonally between us, gusting higher now and then.

For the non-hunters - deer don't like nasty weather any more than people do. When it's cold and drizzly and blowing, they tend to hunker down and not move much more than they have to. Except November is the peak of rut around here, and that qualifies as "have to move".

After almost three hours of sitting and freezing, we hadn't seen anything. HB2 sent me a text message suggesting he walk into the bottom and see if he could bump something out into the field for a shot. About thirty seconds later, while I was debating that, he sent me another saying there were four deer picking their way down the hill opposite the creek, so we sat tight. During bow season the deer that had come down the hill into the creek had come right up into the middle of the field we were in, and these stayed true to form - mostly. HB2 had said there were three does and a buck, but I never saw the buck.

The first doe came up over the edge into the field and started across, heading right into the wind at a leisurely walk. I waited and watched, hoping another wouldn't be far behind, since I wanted HB2 to bag one too. Sure enough, the other two does popped out about 30 yards behind the first. I pulled my sight onto the first one and waited for the others to be further out in the field, hoping HB2 would have a good bead on one of the other two.

The chill of the afternoon seemed to have evaporated; I lined up my sights and snapped the trigger and saw the big doe jerk and hunch and take a few wobbly jumps. I racked the slide on my 870, settled in the sights and shot again. She fell over. I swiveled back around towards the second group. Somewhere in the back of my brain I noted that I hadn't heard a shot from HB2's direction yet, and knew he was shooting a muzzleloader. The two does were finishing a quick spin around in the middle of the field, and stopped dead. I put my sight on the chest of the lead deer and waited. A moment later a thump and cloud of smoke from HB2's blind announced his shot, and the deer I was sighted on jerked. It rolled and started to stand up, and I pulled my trigger and watched as it fell over and stayed down.

I saw HB2 climb out of his stand, already reloading his smokepole, and I called to him that they were both down and staying there. I unhooked myself and hustled down to ground level, and straight out to his deer. His FIRST deer. A beautiful nice-size doe, perhaps 150-160 on the hoof. It was quite dead with two clean shots through the chest - one from each side. I headed towards where my doe had dropped ... and couldn't find her. I had seen her go down and stay there. The grass was deep enough that perhaps she could have struggled off, but I didn't think so. HB2 came over and helped me push the weeds with no luck. I climbed back into my stand and got the perspective I needed and walked him right onto her in about thirty seconds. Climbed back down and walked over and saw a HUGE fat doe, probably a 170-180 pound deer.

We filled out our tags and dressed our deer by flashlight (it was full-on dark at that point), then dragged them across the creek, and walked back to get the truck. We bounced out across the fields and down to the creek edge, loaded the deer, and took them back to the barn to hang for the night. Off to the hotel and dinner...

Saturday morning we arrived just before sunrise and picked a different spot; we both sat in blinds and promptly froze, even with extra layers. The wind was howling from the west at a steady 20-25mph and gusting to 30+; I saw half a dozen does running on the far side of the valley but nothing anywhere near close enough to shoot. Around 11:30 we were both frozen, so decided to pack it in and call two fat does a great hunt. Went out and pulled my stand, packed up the truck, loaded in the does at the barn, and headed home via a Denny's for lunch.

She's hanging in the garage now, and will be for another week or so. Biggest damn doe I've ever seen. HB2 has his hanging and took out the tenderloins for his dinner last night; the recipe he used sounds amazing and I may have to try replicating it at some point.

Other note: After fighting with the cheap-ass block & tackle set I got with a gambrel from Walmart, I decided something else was in order. I happened to be in Tractor Supply earlier in the week, and they had 12V winches on sale. I talked MrsZ into one, and it's now mounted in the garage. Talk about the easy way to hang a deer - I hung the buck with the block & tackle and much swearing and grunting. This took me three minutes and gets the deer well up off the floor. WELL worth the money involved.


doubletrouble said...

Well, congrats AGAIN!

You lucky bastid...

ZerCool said...

I am a lucky bastid, and I know it.

One, that I have had mentors to help me learn the finer points of hunting. Two, that I have choices of good land to hunt. (All told I have "anytime" access to about 500 acres of private land, and there's a 16,000 acre state land five minutes down the road.) Three, that I have a wife who understands!