Seems we plan and plan and then plan some more as our deer seasons get closer. Once they are upon us though, we simply need to go with the flow, as the saying goes. Perhaps you scouted and placed a stand in a very special location, two weeks before the start of the season. But when you arrive the day before the gun opener with camper in tow you see a couple of trucks parked near your stand site.
Then, the worst of horrors as you make your way into your spot in the pitch dark and just as you begin climbing up into your ladder stand someone whistles and blinks his light at you from 50' away in his climber. Yup, I did let him know what I'd thought of his intrusion after obviously seeing my stand there already, before I left the area.
What happened next though is what keeps up slogging through the mud, waking up on a rainy day and sitting with numb toes.
The rest of the story, plan "B"
I did see one small buck that opening morning after my chosen area had been become someone else's. But, even with Tennessee's multiple buck tags, I was not tempted to take him. My plan now was to come up with a plan "B" and so I re-checked some other areas close by the camper's location. There was a nice area where a stream bed (dry) ran down and past a section of planted pines that looked promising.
I cleared a few areas that would make decent ground spots depending on the winds, sat at one for the afternoon and then headed back as light left the woods. On the way up the last low ridge I paused to catch my breath and saw that where I stood looked to be a pretty good vantage point, looking down the point of this low ridge that had two seasonal stream beds coming from either side of that point, meeting and then continuing on as one.
I spent a couple of minutes clearing this one last spot that happened to be only about 250 yards from the camper. I met my Dad back at the camper, we fixed some dinner and after a purely medicinal half glass of cough "medicine" we turned in early for our 4 AM planned wake-up.
The alarm sounded off on time although I'm still surprised we even heard it through the gale force winds and pelting rain blowing outside our snug little retreat. I simply said, "I'm not going out in this" and heard my Dad reply, "Heck, I hope not!". I rolled back over and dozed listening to the rain and wind for another 2-3 hours.
Finally, I unzipped the sleeping bag and said that I'd thought the weather sounded like it was improving some. We both got up, ate our typical hunting breakfast of instant oatmeal and headed out the door just after 7 AM. About 40* and still windy outside but raining not nearly as hard as it was just a few hours before, we headed for our chosen areas on either side of our dead end logging trail.
I slowly walked into my side and decided to simply sit at the last spot I'd cleared no more than 250 yds from the camper. Heck, if it started really pouring again, I could be back inside the camper within 10 minutes or so. I found my tree and set down my little hunting seat directly behind the 15-18" diameter tree I'd found the afternoon before.
"Not too nasty" I kept telling myself every 2 minutes as I sat scanning the still dimly lit woods around me. After a bit, I turned my head to the left and saw a deer walking slowly along that little stream bed headed towards the point of my little ridge finger. The model 100 Carbine in .308 came to my shoulder, the safety was silently pushed to fire and as the buck stepped past a tree directly below me I fired.
He dropped to the shot and I waited a few minutes watching him. I finally lost any patience and headed down to what looked like a really nice buck. He was most definitely a keeper. Ten points total and a very high, but not overly wide rack. He was clearly my best buck to date. My Dad was soon whistling to me as he made his way down the point after seeing me at the bottom.
He'd not been sitting five minutes when he heard me shoot and I'd only been seated about 20 minutes myself when I shot. We just stood and admired that pretty deer for a while and then took some photos. We gutted him there on the spot and dragged him (slowly) up that ridge to the logging road.
We enjoyed some lunch and then the decision was made to go on home and try to dry everything out. We checked in the deer en route to my house and this was (and still is) the only time I out-guess the "deer check guy" on the weight of a deer. I guessed 150 and he guessed 145, dressed. He went 148.
Two lessons here, perhaps. I still think this was the worst weather day I ever went hunting, but it certainly worked out OK. And also we need to remain calm and optimistic even when plan "A" gets totally blown out of the water! Hopefully you have not put all your eggs in one basket, as the saying goes. Even today, I sometimes feel a shiver when I glance at his shoulder mount in the den. After all it was a very cold, rainy and windy morning when plan "B" worked out for me.
The "Plan B" buck
Ed Sr looking like he's not looking forward to the drag!
Here's everything all loaded up and ready to roll
Just before we hooked up to the camper, this is what we saw! Hey, I couldn't make this stuff up!