Nov 21, 2009

Opening day

I've been hunting for five years now, if my memory serves. I've never taken a deer on opening day - the shots just never presented themselves.

Until today.

I made arrangements with Hunting Buddy to be at his place at 5:15 this morning - this is after working until 11pm last night, getting home around 11:30, and then having to be awake at 4:00 in order to make it to his place by the specified time.

I pulled in his driveway at ten minutes past five, and started pulling on the last bit of my hunting clothes. He came out a few minutes later, and the other hunters (three more) arrived shortly thereafter. We made a quick plan for locations and headed off in our separate directions. I was in my stand around 5:40, pushing out three or four deer in the process.

Around 6:20 I heard the first shot of the morning off in the distance - about 30 minutes before legal shooting light, but that's for them to decide. I sat and waited and watched, trying hard not to twitch each time a squirrel rustled the leaves.

About 9:00 a group of doe burst out of the brush halfway down the field I was watching, and cut diagonally across - too far and no clear lanes anyway, so I just watched them run. It wasn't cold temperature-wise this morning, but it was DAMP, and I was starting to get chilly in my stand. Standing up and stretching only helps so much, but I did as much of that as I could and started pondering when I might head back in. A few text messages with a co-worker passed a few minutes.

Shortly after 10:00, a flicker in the brush caught my eye and I looked closely, expecting to see another squirrel. Nope. A deer! I watched it pick its way through the brush coming slightly diagonally towards me; a quiet bleat on my can and a soft grunt turned him more towards me and he cut the distance from 75-80 yards down to about 60. I brought the shotgun up and picked my lane, waiting for him to enter it. He turned broadside right in my chosen lane, and I hauled back on the trigger. I was rewarded with the slam and thunder of a 1oz slug accelerating to 1500fps, and the deer jumped ... because I missed.

He didn't go far, though, which is normal early in the season. He stopped about fifteen feet forward of where I'd shot at him, now partially screened by a thin layer of evergreen branches. I looked at options and decided to take a shot through the branches.

Now, there are rounds out there that are considered "brush-busters" and guns that are "brush guns". High on the list is the .30-30Win in a Winchester Model 94. Most "brush busters" are heavier bullets at lower speeds - they tend not to be deflected by brush as much as a light-fast bullet would be. A .30-30 is usually 150 or 170 grains running right around 2200-2400fps. The slug I use is 435gr at 1500fps - it literally goes THROUGH small branches on the way to deer. I'm speaking from personal experience here; I shot a doe last year that was "hiding" behind a 1" sapling. The tree fell over about the same time the deer did.

In any case, I lined up and pulled the trigger ... and over went the deer, where he started thrashing wildly. Not death throes, but not going anywhere either. I quick-time unstrapped from the tree and climbed down and hustled over. My initial impression of the deer (medium size with a nice 6-point rack) was wrong. He was big, and had 8 legit points, even with one tine broken off halfway down.

He was snorting and blowing on the ground, thrashing in the leaves, and I shot him again with my revolver. After a minute, he was still thrashing, so I shot him once more and waited - and then shot him a third time. He kicked a few last times and died. Hell of a fighter. I sat and thought for a few minutes, then took a picture and got down to the business of dressing him out. I'm guessing he was about 200 on the hoof, and dressed out nicely. He just barely fits in the back of my truck; there's a hoof sticking up over one bed rail and an antler tine over the other.

It's good to know that we've got meat for another year, and there's plenty of hunting season left for me.


1 comment:

doubletrouble said...

Good deal Zerc!

Congrats- nice looking animal.