Rifle season opened today in East Ont. After my little excursion back home I only had one day vacation left for the rifle season. I went back to the same patch of crown land I hunted last year - a quick scouting trip confirmed that the deer were following the same general movement patterns as last year, and I scoped out a few promising spots. My favourite was a small rocky rise which offered a decent field of view over a small bog which was covered in chest high swamp grass which was criss-crossed by several heavily travelled trails, and ringed by a few scrapes. Getting a shot might be tricky in the high grass, but there were some key openings. It was the most promising place to at least see a buck, and in order to shoot them...you have to see them.
I settled in and at 0700 a shot a few hundred yards in front of me told me that the deer were moving...and that I had company. I wasn't too concerned - it was public land after all, and I was pretty sure the shot came from the season ski-doo trail. Not long after I heard movement behind me and was suprised to see a doe sneaking through the timber heading for the swamp. With the stiff breeze in my face there is no doubt she could smell me, but she seemed utterly unconcerned and unaware that I was hunkered down barely 20yds away. She crossed to my upwind side and was on track to cross one of my shooting lanes, so as she passed behind a tree I raised the rifle and waited. Bad move - the next view I had of her was watching her sail about 6ft in the air through my shooting lane and into the tall grass. I had no time to dwell on this close call as a small 6pt was hot on her tail - but he too was now alert and wove through the trees - never offering me a shot. Crap!
Dogging is popular here and once the sun was full up I could here a couple drives in progress in the distance. About an hour later I heard a comotion from a pack not far off and coming my way from the direction the two deer had departed. Maybe they'd get pushed by me again and I'd get a shot, so I readied and waited. No luck...instead a flicker of movement to my left revealed a different larger deer quietly sneaking along the edge of the swamp. He stepped from behind a tree and I caught a glimpse of antlers...but due to the grass I had no shot. After an eternity he took a couple more steps and a small opening allowed me to see his shoulder....one shot and my 05 season was over:
(taken just before loading him in the truck)