Some of you have followed my various online posts in the forum as I rediscovered my passion for the outdoors and hunting. For those that haven't, here's a short recap:
After twenty plus years away from hunting and fishing I found myself unemployed by my own choice. I used that time to think about my future, wants, desires, and goals. I was lucky in that I have a very understanding and supportive spouse that I really don't deserve. Why she puts up with me I can only wonder. Anyway, to make a short story longer, I discovered that I wanted to learn to hunt. I had been hunting before but with very minimal success. I had friends whose fathers, and some mothers, went to places like Africa, Canada, Colorado, and other points on the globe to hunt. My father wasn't a hunter. I did manage to go on a couple of deer, dove, quail, and pheasant hunts when younger but wanted more.
That led to me, since I had plenty of “free time”, deciding to hunt and really attempt to learn the sport so that I could be successful. I'm still learning but I think the “Trials and Tribulations” chapter has reached it's conclusion in my development as a hunter. I decided that I wanted to hunt Coues Deer since they are the most prevalent in my area. I have come to learn that they can also be one of the hardest deer to hunt due to the location, terrain, and distances often involved in bring a rack to the wall or meat to the freezer.
I managed to contact a local guide who was nice enough to take me under his wing. He works a regular job and does guiding on the side as a way of being outdoors more. He's not in it for the money and it shows in his actions and words. My goal, the main one, was to learn how to hunt. Putting meat in the freezer or a rack on the wall was secondary this year. Being that I didn't grow up in a hunting family and am not a kid anymore I wanted to shorten my learning curve.
I scouted through the summer with Bill the Guide and by myself. I always managed to pick up a nugget or three of information. I studied Google earth until my eyes bled and looked at maps until I was cross eyed. I even started to spot deer and understand a small thimble sized bit about them. Along with that I devoted time to the rifle range. I was shooting my first personally owned bolt action rifle, all others had been borrowed, and needed to increase how far I was capable of shooting. I also got some coaching from a friend that qualified for the Olympic Team way back in the Stone Age when the Olympics were held in Mexico City. All of this had me as ready as I felt I could be to fill my tag.
Just prior to my October hunt, one week, I had some family issues arise with my mother. I ended up taking her to the hospital where she spent two weeks. She was in the hospital while I was hunting. I decided to pass on the opening day and weekend figuring that most hunters would have to be back at work on Monday morning after taking a Friday off to hunt. I selected Tuesday as my day to hunt with Bill and being that he had no customers that day we quickly formulated a plan. I figured if I didn't get one on Tuesday I could hunt Wednesday and Thursday by myself.
Tuesday morning came and I met up with Bill. We loaded the truck and sped off in to the desert. We drove up on a ridge and proceeded to set up our optics in the dark. As the light turned we could see two bucks on the hillside in front of us. One was a spike and his companion was a fork horn that seemed to be representative of Coues Deer in that area. I used my laser scope to determine the distance and tried to get comfortable for a shot. I decided that given the angle I needed to be closer. It was only a 350 Yard shot but due to the angle, and knowing my abilities, I wanted to be closer.
We were spotted but I managed to close the distance to 296 Yards, according to my scope, and felt I could make the shot. I sat down, wrapped my arm in the sling, rested my elbow on my leg and proceeded to fire one round. I was rewarded with a solid “TWAP”. My deer was lying down offering me a broadside view of his right side. He stood up and proceeded to cough blood from his mouth as he walked twenty yards or less to the draw that offered cover. I should have shot him again, but both Bill and I thought he was hit hard and was going down. Bill said he looked like, “a three year old kid that got ahold of Momma's lipstick and smeared it all over his lips.”
After thirty minutes or so we proceeded down the ridge to go get my deer. When we got to the spot where I shot him a three point buck and the spike jumped out of the draw and went over the ridge. I dropped my pack and toting my rifle went after them to see where they went. By the time I came back, falling multiple times due to the terrain, Bill asked me if I wanted to, “be mad at me now or mad at me later?” I figured there was no reason to be mad. He was standing by some blood and pointed down the draw saying, “Your deer went that way.” I was also rewarded with a comment about how fast I can move for an older guy that's half stove up from riding bovine critters in his youth.
OK, so things are looking good, my deer is going downhill unlike the other deer. We started down the draw figuring we would find him piled up somewhere. Four hours later we still had not found my deer and I was incapable of traveling much more. We glassed and talked the rest of the afternoon and I managed to mull over the lessons I had learned. The next day I had to deal with family issues, mother in the hospital and such, but the following day I managed to get out again. Another friend took a day off work and went with me. I figured he's half my age so I figured he'd be an asset to me if I managed to find my deer.
I had an enjoyable year preparing for this hunt and while I would like to report that I have venison in the freezer but it is not to be this year. I managed to make some more friends and arrange a place to hunt in Texas for feral hogs so this deer hunting thing wasn't a waste. I also learned many valuable lessons and feel confident that I can be a pretty good DIY Hunter for Coues Deer in the upcoming years. Now I can't wait until next year. Tomorrow I plan to go out for rabbits, quail, and whatever else I come across that's in season.