Nov 23, 2010

One tag filled

Regular (gun) season for deer has opened in New York, and I've been out twice. True to form, I made opening morning with my hunting mentor, and saw nothing. It's possible that dozing off under my tree had something to do with that, but I can't be certain.

Sunday afternoon I went to another spot where I've had no luck over a couple years - I've seen plenty of deer, but have never been in proper position to take a shot. True to form, I picked a spot against a round bale halfway down the field and settled in to wait. I enjoyed the light breeze and the occasional sunshine, and saw precisely nothing.

Shortly before sunset, I peeked around my bale towards the other end of the field, and sure enough, there was a doe poking her way out of the woods. I stood up and laid my gun across the bale, but wasn't comfortable with the distance - in excess of 150 yards. As I watched through my scope, two more deer joined her on the fringe.

I decided to take a chance, since it was still early in the season, and nearing sunset. I walked diagonally to another bale about 40 yards closer. With the sun behind me, the breeze mostly in my favor, and the deer not spooked yet, it was worth trying. Hint: never watch your prey directly when you move. An occasional glance, or watch from the corner of your eye, but never direct eye contact. It sounds weird, but it's true.

When I reached the closer bale, I slowly popped up behind it and set my gun across. Two more deer had joined the crowd, meaning there were five does in a tight group. I clicked off my safety and settled my breathing, and waited. One finally detached herself from the group and gave me a broadside shot.

I pulled the trigger...

And missed. Clean miss. They flinched and stood still.

I worked the slide of the Mossberg and took another shot. Another miss, and yet the deer stood there.

Clearly, something was amiss. (No pun intended.)

I stalked my way to yet another closer bale, dropping another 25 yards from the distance, and slipping one more shell into the shotgun as I walked. (I tend to keep the "duck plug" in my guns; at $2-3/shot for sabot slugs, it keeps me from getting too trigger happy.) I laid across this bale, settled in, and waited for one to give me a shot. They kept standing in front of each other, in lines of two or three.

Finally, with a bit of hay tickling my nose, one turned sideways and stepped out from the bunch. I picked my aim point and squeezed through the trigger, seeing the muzzle flash and the deer I'd aimed at buck up. It looked like a good hit, and she started to run, but with a clear stumble. About thirty yards down the edge of the field, she fell and thrashed for a moment. I trotted out from behind my bale and across the grass. As I got close, I drew my pistol and watched for breathing or twitching, but she was clearly dead.

I said a quiet thank-you to the gods of the hunt, and scooted back across the field to collect my seat and empty shells. Back to the deer, filled out my tag, and dressed her out. Nothing huge - perhaps 130lb on the hoof - but she'll be tender and lean.

The weather hasn't been ideal for hanging, so I hung her up in the garage Sunday night, and today I skinned and quartered her. The backstraps have been trussed up as roasts, and the quarters will get cut tomorrow. Lots of grind, perhaps a bit of stew meat.

As an aside, there are plenty of hunters out there who will suggest that the only shotgun appropriate for deer is a 12ga. I beg to differ, and if these two pictures don't make the point, nothing will. This was approximately 100 yards, from a 24" fully rifled (and ported) 20ga Mossberg 500. Load was a Hornady SST 250gr sabot slug with a muzzle velocity of ~1800fps.

(Please note, these pictures are AFTER I quartered the deer, so some might find them distasteful.)

Entry side.
Exit side.

If you look close, you'll see that the slug went through-and-through, with very little bloodshot meat on either side. The lungs were essentially pulverized, and the deer effectively dropped in place. (Having tracked deer further than a quarter-mile, anything less than fifty yards is "in place" in my book.) I would gladly recommend this gun and load combination to someone looking for a great all-purpose gun.


doubletrouble said...

Congrats lad!

Looks like you'll be eating well for a while...

cybrus said...

Excellent! Can't believe those deer hung around as long as they did!