After waking up an hour late, I was already off to a bad start. I quickly called my hunting partner Tim Shumaker, whom I was supposed to have picked up at 430, and found out that he too was still sleeping. I had wanted to be in the bush by about 530 for sun-up, but that wasn’t about to happen. Quickly throwing my gear in my truck, I tore downtown to pick him up.
“Slept in huh?” he asked with a smile as he tossed his gear beside me.
“Uh huh,” I tossed back with a half asleep smirk.
Driving through the dark lonely town I was starting to realize that it wouldn’t have been light at 530 in the long run. I guess we should have planned to leave at 530 in the first place.
We spent the full morning driving, walking, hiking, glassing cut blocks and farmers fields in search of the elusive 2 point bull moose (if you don’t get drawn for big bull in BC, your still eligible for a 2 point bull, or calf in October). At about 1 pm, I was thinking, this just isn’t going to happen today, there are no forked moose out here.
We decided to run into town, grab some lunch and some more snacks, due to the fact we had eaten all we had this morning while driving around, and drove out to my co-worker’s farm and see if we could hunt on his alfalfa fields that afternoon for mule deer. After knocking on his door for five minutes, I decided to call him to see where he was and what his answer would be.” Feel free to hunt on whatever field you want bucko, but that mulie you were talking about got harvested by a 10 year old this morning, so good luck!” I hung up my phone while he was still laughing on the other end. I had been watching a 4x4 mulie in his fields the last week or so, and now it was opening day and he was already gone. Just my luck.
It was about a 10 minute drive from his farm house to the field I was planning to hunt in, and you guessed it. The same field the young kid had shot “my deer” in. I wanted to see what would happen, and heck, it was the first day of the season. There was plenty more to come if I didn’t get what I wanted today. As we drove into the edge of the field, we slowly thought of a game plan. The field was a huge cube, with a road on the far West side, a creek on the east, a poplar grove to the south and nothing but alfalfa to the north. Our plan was to sit on the South West corner of where the poplars started and set up our ground blind.
Heading along the fenceline, I stopped and slowly knelt to the ground while motioning to the edge of the clearing in front of us.
“What?” Tim asked curiously.
“Up there, just off the fenceline, I dunno if it’s a fox, or a deer, or I’m just losing my mind, but it looks like something is bouncing around in the alfalfa. See it?”
“Oh yea, shoot, looks like we’re stuck hey?”
Nodding my head, I grabbed the spotting scope and took a look. At 325 yards, there was a little doe ‘frolicking’ in the field by herself. Chuckling to myself, I handed Tim the scope and started to set up our flat ground blind. I thought it would be effective for the task at hand, but that soon changed. We had brought a day bag along with us, and also brought some warmer clothes, even though it was currently 32degrees Celsius, but it cooled off real quick at dusk.
Time kept ticking, but finally the doe hopped back into the bush, so we decided to try and close the gap to where I wanted to be, which was about 130 yards from where we were. It was a slow and painful crawl/duck walk through thorns, broken alfalfa, rocks and some HUGE mosquito’s (I swear the mosquitos here are the size of toonies) but we made it. Remember how I said we had brought our warm clothes with us, well I meant we were wearing them, and man was it hot. I didn’t think it could get much hotter at that point, and we were just debating moving up to some shade, when another doe hopped the fence about 20 yards in front of us. She started feeding, (which I thought was weird because it was only 4pm) and her two twin fawns came right after her. Tim and I started taking pictures, which at the time was a good idea, until the big doe heard us whispering to each other. Bad idea I know, we should have known better.
Well, at that point, I thought the hunt was over. She had us pegged and was starting to walk closer to us. While we had been waiting for some kind of animal to hop the fence, we had added a few handfuls of alfalfa to the blind. Five minutes into her hopping the fence, she was roughly 10 yards from us and was getting mad. She started wheezing, and stomping her hoof and rocking back and forth. Now from our perspective, this was pretty frustrating. So, I stood up. She took one look at me with saucer eyes and was gone, taking her fawns with her. Or so I thought. A few minutes passed, and we started muttering to each other, when a branch broke to my right. Now it was my turn to have saucer eyes. I slowly looked around a thorn bush, and there she was, 7 yards away, and stomping again. This is never going to end I thought. Time went by... again, and she decided we weren’t any harm so she left. This time we waited a few minutes before we started whispering again, when low and behold, there she was again, this time behind us and about 20 yards.
“Enough of this.” I said and stood up again. I grabbed my rifle, and started walking towards the middle of the field, all the while keeping an eye on her. I didn’t want the ground or alfalfa in front of the bush to smell like us, so we made a wide horseshoe path to the other side of the trees. We had left our pack, our blind, and just about everything else we had back where we had been set up, so we had nothing but a bottle of water, an apple, a granola bar and a cell phone between the two of us.
By this time it was about 530pm and the doe was long gone. I figured we were in the clear by now, so we were talking to one another in low whispers, sitting about ten feet from the fenceline in the waist deep alfalfa, when guess what came over the fence. Yep, a doe. Not the same one, for this one had a torn right ear, but she must have spoken with the other doe, because she started walking right towards us. Dammit I muttered to myself. This really could not get worse. Sinking ourselves deeper and deeper to the point where our noses were basically in the dirt, I finally saw her disappear into the center of the field.
“Why don’t you go to the fence, where you could have a steady shot, and I’ll keep spotting from here,” Tim offered.
Nodding my head in agreement, now with a smile on my face since this seemed to be the best thought out plan we’d had yet today, I belly crawled to the fence and underneath it to the other side. From here I had a pretty clear view of the entire field, most of the bushline, and everything behind me as well. I must have been in my own world, for at one point there was a fly sitting on the left lens of my sunglasses, and the next thing I knew, Tim was making psssst noises at me trying to get my attention.
Looking back at him, he was pointing to the West at a group of mulies who had just hopped the fence. From where he was hunched, he could see the entire bush/fenceline, whereas I had about a 15 foot blind spot of trees to the field.
“What?” I asked while shrugging my shoulders.
He pointed again and then I saw what he saw, four does, and three bucks. Picking up my binoculars, I started looking at headgear. One was a 4x4, one was a spike and the last one I noticed had a little drop tine that I could swear was a 6x5. Well up went my 30-06 and into the scope he came. CLICK. Dammit my safety was on. Off came the safety, while listening to Tim chuckle beside me now, in the scope came the buck. BOOM!! TWANG!!! (yes I had seriously hit the barbwire fence ten feet in front of me). Now the deer had all stopped and were all looking at me. Worst day of my life. Looking into the scope quicker than I ever had, I found him once again. BOOM!! Still staring into the scope, I watched him disappear.
“Did he run down into the ravine?” I stuttered to Tim.
“No... but how did you manage to hit the fence?” he shot back at me laughing.
I waited a few minutes to see what was going to happen, which was nothing, so off we marched through the field when what did we find? Well we found my buck, which had dropped as soon as he had been hit by my second shot. A few yells and high fives later, and we were dragging the big guy all the way to the other end of the field. His net weight was 221lbs, and he had fallen at 113yards. He’s not big, but he comes with a good story for my first buck. His final measurements were 118 7/8.