Dec 3, 2010

Another notch

If you'll recall my post from two days ago, I wished for snow. After I wrote that post, I made a mug of cocoa and settled in with a book and a puppy while I listened to the rain patter on the patio doors.


An hour later, mug empty, I went out to the kitchen to find some more cocoa. Glancing out the kitchen window, my wish had come true: there was a good inch of fresh wet snow, and more coming fast.

We ended up with just a couple inches, but it was enough to make things clean and white for a while. The lower-lying areas around us had some problems with flash flooding; the high school got a few inches of water in the hallways and a few people drove their car into flooded roads and then flooded ditches. While our house isn't completely immune to such things, it's in a pretty good spot and we'd need a whole lot more than two or three inches of rain to cause problems.

The weather broke late Wednesday evening, and while Thursday was overcast, it was reasonably mild, not windy, and there was enough snow to make spotting deer a bit easier. I changed and headed out around 2, arriving at my hunting spot around 2:45.

Pulling on the remainder of my clothes and loading the gun, I moseyed in to the woods, watching the trail and muttering to myself about life. As I rounded a bend in the path, a snort from my right froze me in my tracks, and I slowly turned my head that way. Not twenty-five yards away stood a small deer. I brought the gun up and clicked off the safety, drew a bead...

And lowered the gun and put the safety back on.

Rule 4, kids. "Identify your target, and what is behind it." It's easy to get a little turned around in the woods, and a difference of 30 degrees can be the difference between shooting towards a house and an open field. I knew for a fact that there was a state highway about 200 yards beyond the deer, and while the woods between were dense, I wasn't going to take a chance on a stray slug going somewhere I didn't want.

We stood and watched each other for a few more minutes, then he (90% sure it was a button buck) turned and loped off. I headed further down the trail and found a comfy tree to sit against overlooking a wide swale, with an easy view into an adjacent cornfield.

As I sat, a few flakes drifted down, and the highway in the distance faded into background noise; like cicadas in the summertime you don't hear it unless you listen for it. Even the squirrels were quiet today, and contemplative silence was what the doctor ordered.

After 45 minutes or so, I moved my seat to the other side of the trail for a slightly better view of the opposite side of the swale. Half an hour later, a bit of movement out of the corner of my eye turned my head to the cornfield. Sure enough, a deer was coming up over the edge of the swale and into the field - a common spot for them at sunset. I turned my torso a bit and brought the gun up and double-checked for antlers through the scope. None - good. Not even nubbins that I could see.

I clicked the safety off, calmed my breathing, and waited. She took a step forward into a good clear spot and started nosing the ground for forage. I settled the crosshairs just behind the shoulder, held a breath, and squeezed the trigger.

The gun barked, the deer jumped ... and started running. She'd only been 35 or 40 yards from me when I pulled the trigger, and ran in a wide arc to my left. I worked the slide on the Mossberg as I stood up and brought it back to my shoulder. Just as I brought my cheek down on the comb, she stopped for a moment, and I thought I was going to have a clear second shot.

Instead, she fell over. A few kicks later she stopped moving. I thumbed another shell into the magazine and set my gun down against a tree for a moment. After I found my spent brass I picked up the gun and started walking towards the deer - and was greeted by two snorts and two tails bounding off from the same spot she'd come out of. If I'd looked, I would have seen them and could easily have hung up another one, but I didn't (and that's ok).

She's another small-ish doe, probably going 110-120 on the hoof, but in fine shape and should be nice and tender. I filled out my tag, dressed her out (again, the 20ga SSTs went through-and-through in the chest, and both lungs were pulverized), and dragged her back to the truck. On the way back I bumped yet another deer out, but it was far past legal shooting light and my gun was already unloaded.

I got home and hung her in the garage; in a few days I'll skin and quarter her, and we'll figure out how to divide this one. Loin medallions, some grind, and some stew cubes, most likely.

I'd like to get at least one more deer this season. There's a week of regular season left, then ten days of muzzleloader. I've got one antler tag, one deer management tag, and two tags for muzzleloader... we'll see how it goes.

1 comment:

doubletrouble said...

Go goin' Z!
We're coming over your place for dinner...