After a rough start, I've had a great season here in NY.
Saturday opened the regular deer season in NY’s southern zone.
I was up at 5, out at 6 and settled into my stand by 7. At 9 a shot went off fairly close to me and two deer rocketed past at Mach 10. At 11 a doe and fawn went past. At 1 PM a decent buck surprised me by popping over the ridge 30 yards behind me. I snapped a shot but my scope on its lowest setting at 3.5X magnification was full of deer and I muffed the shot. He ran down hill and I fired twice more. The blood trail and bits of bone tell me that I broke a leg - probably a front leg with my first shot. I trailed him for the next 4 hours as the blood trail diminished to a drop every yard or so into a swamp with high grass, thick scrub brush and hummocks dotting foot deep water. I lost him despite pulling in the help of another hunter and gave up as darkness settled in.
Henry Ford said “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right.” It is only failure when you quit trying so Sunday I was back looking for him. I was hoping to find if not a dead deer at least a fresh blood trail. I didn’t find either. By noon I was pooped from pushing through that bog. My knees ached and I was just too tired to walk much more. Since I didn’t know where that wounded buck was I figured looking anywhere was as good as anywhere else. I began to work my way back toward my original stand where I had left the majority of my gear the day before. I slowly made my way uphill stopping to rest frequently and got back to my portable chair and thermos of ice cold 2 day old coffee at about 1 PM. I sat down and drank the coffee. There wasn’t much hope of a deer coming in to this stand now. The deer that had been here were scared away yesterday. The scent lure was put out the day before and would be cold. I had crisscrossed the whole area. There was a blood trail from yesterday running right through it. Just a few minutes before I had come up the hill through the noisy leaves leaving yet again another human scent trail. No deer in his right mind would be anywhere near here. But I just couldn’t give up. Our God is the God of second chances. I have screwed up so much in the past I am surprised if I get something right the first time. God blessed me again.
After sitting about 5 minutes I saw movement. It was a big bodied deer feeding on acorns and coming toward me at about 120 yards. I settled myself. There would be no hasty shot this time. I got my Winchester model 70 in position, settled the cross hairs on his chest. I could see antlers as he came within 100 yards. At 80 yards I pulled the trigger. The buck trotted a few steps and went out of sight behind a rock ledge. I couldn’t believe it. He acted like he hadn’t been touched! I was in position when he came out from behind the ledge quartering toward me. I was not about to lose another deer if I could help it. At 40 yards I put a bullet through his spine at the base of his skull and he went down like deer are supposed to! I thanked God and went to tag him. When I field dressed him I saw that my first shot clipped the top of his heart. I have no idea how he kept walking!
He is a 5 point (2x3) and probably the heaviest white tail I have ever taken. I don’t have a scale to weigh him on and maybe it was because I was so tired, but I could only drag him about 10 yards at a time and Rob and I together couldn’t lift him on the 4 wheeler. I’m guessing he is near 200 on the hoof.
So you have been thinking about making the trek out west for a DIY big game hunt. The pronghorn antelope is an excellent choice for your first western big game hunt. It is a good choice because it offers the first-timer an introduction to DIY western hunting with a high probability of success and without the exertion or need for detailed planning that a mule deer or elk hunt might require. While there are several states that you could conduct your pronghorn antelope hunt, I...