on deer hunting
… I think my favorite wild creatures are deer. No; I am sure of it. Both the Whitetailed Deer common here, and the Mule Deer of the West. Or maybe the North American Elk. Anyway, this is about deer, and deer hunting. I love deer. I also hunt deer. I don’t hunt to kill; I hunt to hunt, and I kill to eat. If I didn’t eat deer, I wouldn’t kill them. I also hunt with camera. Over the years we have learned to care for our deer kills such that the venison table fare is extraordinary. I would put our venison up against any other red meat that you could put before me, including beef. I love their beauty, grace, innocence, and incredible abilities to `not get killed’.
Here goes …
`one last deer to kill’
(c) Jeff Filler, 2021
Season now almost over, and essentially having `filled Linda’s order for venison for the next year’, I headed out to the far stand at day’s end. I could still justify that she needed another deer, because one of the deer in the freezer, from a neighbor, wasn’t a full deer. A small buck had been showing up recently on the game cam. I suspected he would come out early, daylight hours, spoiled by the ease of fresh corn on the ground. And I would look `deeper’ into the woods … paying sharper attention to movement in the woods. He would break off from the smarter does, adept at keeping themselves and their babies safe by not showing up until way after dark. The young buck’s independence would be his doom. Tonight was going to be the night.
There he is. (not pictured)
I noticed the buck `deeper’, farther out, giving me more time to get set up. Dead deer coming. He’s coming my way. Closer. Do I take the safety off now? No, no hurry. Closer. Will he hear it (the safety)? No matter. The deer has now entered my world … in which I have total control. I decide, this night, whether this deer lives or dies. Forty yards. Now broadside. I put the crosshairs behind the shoulder for a double-lung shot, surely to kill the deer, but to deliver minimal trauma, and ruining a minimum of prime meat. The deer is unaware. Safety off. Dead deer standing.
At the impact of the bullet the deer kicked rearward, and sped forward, running through the brush and turning toward me. Aside from the initial kick, he ran as though untouched. He ran behind and under me in the tree stand. Huh? I turned to watch. Will you die, or what? Wait; that’s right; a double-lung shot does little damage, except bleed the deer out, running. The deer will run until he `falls asleep’. Dead deer running.
Another fifteen yards, he stopped, and stood. Dead deer standing. The deer wobbled and collapsed.
Text to Brock (my grandson): 5:40 PM: Can you help me drag a deer out?
5:41 PM (Brock): Yeah on my way.
I almost didn’t set my alarm, wanting a day of `rest’ (from hunting). But set it anyway. When it went off, I turned it off, and stuffed it under my pillow. Suddenly it was thirty minutes later. I decided to get up. If I do go hunting, at least I won’t have to wait as long for daylight.
6:22 AM: To Anthony: In woods … late, but in woods.
6:23 AM: From Anthony: I’m almost there.
I got situated. I had the big gun (30-06, with 180-grain bullets). I had lost a tiny bit of confidence with the 260, per the `cold miss’ yesterday. Getting ready. Black camo paint below my eyes across my face. Black balaclava. Movement, gray, in my peripheral, on the left, coming up the trail. Do I pull up the binos? No, not enough time, … will possibly compromise the opportunity to then pull up the rifle, if for a shot. I wanted to think doe, but form was bigger, and grayer. I’ll let a doe, or a smaller buck pass. The deer moved magically, almost as animated. At first I counted three … a six-point. But looked closer, at least one more horn on one side, the earguard. A seven-point, or eight-point. I decided to take the deer.
The buck stopped. He was feeding, and looking. Forty-five yards, broadside, but the trunk of a tree between us perfectly blocked the kill zone on the deer. I could shoot aft, but it would make a mess, and I could even kill, but lose the deer. I could wait until he steps further. But he probably won’t just step and stop – he’ll step and keep going. Safety off. I waited. I couldn’t brace hard against the deer blind – for some reason it was tipping over (wtf). The crosshairs would not stay still as I waited, and wanted. Is this buck fever? Or the cold temperature … (I’m shivering a bit).
The buck was not moving. Now he was looking at me. But the black face paint and balaclava paid off. However, this would not last forever. I could begin to see placing the bullet about an inch and a half right of the tree trunk and into the front inch, or inch and a half, of the front shoulder of the deer.
BANG! (I took the shot.)
The buck reeled around and went to the ground. (Happy!) I exited the blind.
But then he got up and stumbled down toward the creek about ten or fifteen yards, and collapsed again. I went back for my rifle. But I knew he was down, for good.
6:38 AM: From Anthony: Damn that was quick
6:39 AM: (pic of buck, on ground, back to Anthony)
… later, telling Miles about the shot, he asked if I curved the bullet around the tree. We both knew he was referring to the movie Wanted.
Hmmmm … how to successfully hunt Whitetailed Deer? … especially older bucks, and does? First, eliminate all the things, inasmuch as possible, that can possibly go wrong. Get smooth, good, with your actions, methods. Work them to perfection. Don’t leave anything for chance. Make sure your equipment works.
Second, avoid making mistakes.
Third, trust your instincts, intentions; don’t make rash tactic changes.
If you do make a mistake, hopefully you’ll learn from it. I assure you the deer will. In a way it’s a race to learn the deer faster than the deer learn you. They’ll figure you out!
Whitetailed deer grow old by letting (maybe even making) other deer make mistakes.