The Icing on the Cake
It has been a very good year. Saturday was opening day of the regular whitetail season.
I left the house at 6 AM. Went about 100 yards down the shooting range and stopped. It was too dark to see where I was going. I just stood still and listened for 15 or 20 minutes counting my blessings that I could literally start hunting when I stepped out of my door. When it was light enough to see, I went another 150 yards and sat until about 6:30 AM. I heard a shot from the neighbor (1/4 mile away). By 6:45 AM I decided that nearby stream was so loud that I wouldn’t be able to hear anything coming anyway. Isn’t it funny how you can arrive somewhere in the woods and think it is absolutely silent, then after a few minutes of sitting quietly hear so much more? In this case, the trickle of the stream seemed like a roar that would cover the sound of any approaching hoof steps.
I made my way down to the south end of Mom and Dad’s property and sat on an overlook where there is a fairly steep drop off about 20 feet of elevation with a 180 degree view of +/- 75 yards in 3 directions and a rise at my back so I’m not sky-lined. I guess I settled in there at about 7:00 AM. The were four gray squirrels to my left, a pair of red squirrels in front and three chipmunks to the right. When I wasn’t watching the squirrels and imagining that their leaf rustling play was the sound of deer approaching, I passed the time either spraying ‘doe in estrus’ or sounding the doe bleat or buck grunt every 20 minutes.
I saw a doe working her way toward me at 8:25 AM. (I didn’t have a doe tag this year). She came up to about 50 yards away from me, turned broadside and moved off along a stone wall. About that time I saw the second doe. And a third doe followed her. I rested my cross hairs on each of them with the scope cranked up to 6X at 50 yards in the vain search for antlers…. Then there was a fourth, and a fifth flat top deer – all were either does or three quarter grown fawns from this spring. I thought surely a buck would follow them. They moved on and the woods got quiet again, or at least as quiet as those noisy squirrels rustling leaves, climbing trees, and gnawing nuts allowed.
I figured that I was in as good a spot as any because a trail of scent layed down by those five does walking within 50 yards was as good a buck lure as I could hope for. Nothing in a bottle would work any better than live does, so I made up my mind to sit there another couple of hours.
Just a half hour later I picked out a lone deer going the opposite direction at about 75 yards. It was just at the edge of my sight through a screen of brush and saplings. I couldn’t see antlers but I figured that any lone deer HAD to be a buck, so I grunted at him with the grunt tube.
Very much to my surprise, he hooked around and headed right for me! At 60 yards I could see spikes. At 50 yards I pulled the trigger.
He took 2 quick steps and looked behind him trying to figure out where that loud, HARMLESS noise had come from! Between shooting steeply downhill and him being so close to me, I had managed to shoot completely over him. I worked my bolt and corrected my aim. The second shot was also a little high, but low enough to connect! I hit his spine and both lungs just behind the shoulders and he was down and out at the impact without a twitch.
I knelt with my hand on him and thanked God for a successful hunt, then tagged him and went to wake up my son who has helped retrieve deer for the last several years. That is another added bonus of being able to hunt right out of your back door. My friend Gene’s 4 wheeler came in very handy We drove right to the deer, loaded him and brought him home. It was the easiest ‘drag’ I ever had! That experience and the labor saving the ATV demonstrated snaking logs out of the woods convinced me to buy one for myself the following autumn.
I had missed the first shot and the deer turned to look behind him, so I was shooting from behind and about 20 feet higher in elevation when I hit him. The bullet struck the back bone just behind the shoulders, blew up 2 vertebrae (and I think the front half of the bullet), then due to my poor shot placement the bullet tore up neck meat all the way until it lodged near the windpipe. My shot could have been better for saving meat from damage, but I can’t complain about the bullet performance.
The recovered bullet had shed the front portion in typical Nosler fashion and retained the jacket and back half. The .375 projectile still held 174 grains of the original 260 after travelling through +/- 24 inches of deer. I can’t complain about that since 174 grains is the starting load for 303 British military ball and that has taken everything that walks in the last century or so.
I am happy to harvest any legal deer and that goes for spike bucks as well. My regular deer season was just three hours long and this tender tasty buck was the icing on the cake to wrap up the 2009 hunting season after helping my son harvest his first game (geese) and harvesting my bull moose. I am truly blessed.