Things Are Not Always What You Think
Saturday morning was the long awaited opening day of firearms season for whitetail deer in my neck of the woods. I had posted my land last fall after my neighbor’s guest shot a buck I was following. Not only did I not know the guest but neither he nor the neighbor had permission to be there. The last straw was when the guy told me what a great place it was for good bucks because my neighbor had filled both their tags “right in here” last year. To the neighbor’s credit he came and apologize for trespassing a few months after the fact and promised not to hunt there again. So opening day of 2007 I crunched my way through the predawn darkness and over a deep cover of frozen leaves to the same area with high hopes of having the property all to myself.
I selected a log to sit against, put out my seat, and portable blind and set off a ‘scent bomb’ lure 50 yards down wind just as the light began to creep up. I then settled in behind my blind and let everything get really, really quiet. Within minutes I heard foot steps coming toward me. They were NOISY footsteps crunching and shuffling leaves, breaking sticks, and snapping branches. It was WAY too noisy for a deer. It was 20 Fahrenheit degrees but I was hot under the collar. This guy had the nerve to tell me that he was going to stay out of the hunting area then he comes walking in to the same area on opening morning! He had the nerve to stop only 100 yards from me. He was planning to hunt in the exact same spot I was! I could see about 90 yards and this guy was sitting just beyond where I could see after walking straight through my scent lure sounding like a herd of elephants.
Well, I figured that I might as well sit there and hope for the best. About an hour later I heard my buddy on the other end of the property shoot twice and since I was getting cold anyway, I made up my mind to hunt toward my friend’s stand and help him drag out the deer I anticipated him having down. As long as I was going to move and make noise in those frozen leaves, I figured I’d go down and throw the neighbor off the posted land. I’d only gone about 25 yards when much to my surprise up jumped two deer right ahead of me!
Well at least I don’t have to be mad at the neighbor. I don’t know what they were. I just saw deer hide and tails bounding away through the brush, but they were definitely deer, not humans that had come in and stopped just 100 yards from me.
I thought that I might be able to push them toward my buddy since they had already busted me. I began to move along as quietly as possible and soon could hear another set of steps coming towards me. Thinking that the pair might be circling for a better look at me, I paused and waited until I spotted a lone deer coming cautiously toward me.
I put my scope on him and saw one side of a big antler rack as he looked at me from behind a dead pine tree full of bare branches. I put a 300 grain .375 Swift A-Frame into the center of his chest and was astonished that he didn’t go down in a heap. He just took a few steps and turned broadside. Well heck I wasn’t about to lose him, so I put another shot into him even though all I could see was his back half broadside. I found out later that this shot passed through a three inch tree which deflected it left and down breaking a hind leg below the knee and tipping him over. This was lucky for me as I would have otherwise gut shot the deer. The first shot had indeed hit where I intended at the center of the chest then passed down and back to exit just where the ribs meet but (lucky for me) ahead of the diaphragm.
So I had a nice fat little buck on the ground. The only trouble was that when I walked up to him, the basket rack I thought I could see through the pine branches had disappeared. He had small spike horns! He’s legal, but his antler bases must have blended with those bare pine branches at my first glance! Still he’ll be tasty. I tagged the deer then walked home and found that my moose hunting friend Gene had dropped a nice spike buck about 200 yards from my house as well. We used his 4 wheeler to bring my buck home and since that was the morning of my parents’ 50th anniversary party we called it a day once the game was hanging and went to enjoy the 50 pie buffet! That is another story, but yes we had 50 pies. It was a day to remember!
My friend Rick had hunted between Gene and me. He saw the buck that Gene dropped but didn’t have a clear shot at him. Still I’m glad that Rick saw deer and it was nice that Gene and I doubled up after he shared his moose with me a few weeks before.