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 …
(c) Jeff Filler, 2022
I knew there was a problem with this deer stand … what if a deer shows up right underneath me? How will I get my bow up and over the rail without being seen, to take a shot.
I decided to try the far stand. I figured the 7-point buck had me figured out at the Deer Den (ground blind) … the other day, when he could sense something was wrong, and wouldn’t give me a shot … but maybe he’d show in a new place, and I could get him. Besides, I had a hunch that the deer checked the corn at the far stand first, or on their way to, the corn a the shooting lane in front of the Den.
Deer hunting in the South takes gargantuan amounts of time, and likewise patience. Typically, one must find a place where deer might happen by, and wait. And be quiet. And be still. Sitting still comes either natural, or is learned; it didn’t come natural to me, and I’m still learning.
I got up in the far stand and got ready. I didn’t get any deer from the stand last year; let’s see what happens this. I got impatient. I checked my phone. Oh, a text from Ricky – I’ll read it. So, yeah, now I’m distracted texting. I look down. OH! … a beautiful buck is right underneath me. He is only ten yards away, nibbling on some corn I set on a rock. He’s facing me. I cannot move.
I put my phone in my pocket, as quietly as possible, and made the smallest of noises, but the buck heard it. He looked up … not at me, but scanned the forest right underneath me. My fear had come true … how can I raise my bow, get it over the rail to the stand, and get off a shot, without him noticing me??? I cannot. If I had a pistol, I could perhaps unholster it and get the deer, … he’s right underneath me … but I was not carrying a pistol, nor is it firearm season.
The buck lowers his head, pretending to eat, but now he’s watching … attention at 100 percent. I don’t move. I don’t make a sound. My heart is beating … I am sure he can hear it … I sure can. Now he looks up right at me. I don’t think I’ve ever been this close to a very-much-alive Whitetail deer. We’re staring each other face-to-face, eye-to-eye. I don’t even blink. I am in camo head to toe, and have camo-painted my face and ears. He can’t tell what I am, but he knows it’s not right. He bolts. I raise up to shoot. Now he’s behind a tree. He bolts again, and is gone. He then gets downwind, finds my scent, and `blows’.
How could I be so close to this magnificent buck, and not get him? I am both mad at myself, and at peace, having seen, so up close, how marvelous these creatures are. This is the second time this 7-point has busted me. He may not give me many more chances.
I climbed down from the stand and went home. I told Linda of the incident, and how this deer had now got away twice. She said, “That’s how he became a 7-point.”
(c) Jeff Filler, 2022
The night before, while texting Ricky, a beautiful seven-point slipped in, and was right at my feet before I noticed him. I could not get my bow up without spooking him. He got away.
I was at the far stand again … yeah, I was doing some texting, but also paying more attention. There he is! … a nice spike buck, moving without a sound toward me. I was unnoticed. Not about to make the same mistake as last night. I would wait, let him move on past, and then get a shot while he’d be facing the other way. He’s so close … he’ll hear any sound, and may see any motion.
The `far stand’ is a typical tree stand, a ladder up to a foot platform and single seat, with arm rest/rail. Stands are typically fifteen or so tall (to base or seat), above a deer’s typical attention arena. While they pay incredible attention to what’s going on along the ground, mysteriously almost, they don’t look up, unless something gives them cause to.
Slowly I got my hand around the grip of the crossbow. It’s the little things. Surprisingly, the arrow in the quiver closest to the safety was blocking my fingers. I had to, slowly, get my left hand also into the action, to take off the safety. Slowly, slowly, I began to raise the crossbow. The buck was now basically at my feet, nibbling on a few kernels of `spilled’ corn. The problem with the situation, as the night before, is that it’s impossible to get the bow up to shoot, over the arm rest, without a huge amount of motion.
Oh no! … he’s turned around. He won’t go past me. I need to somehow get my bow up for a shot before the deer disappears into the jungle just feet away.
Someone is texting me wildly; I must ignore. Somewhere in my subconscious I suppose it to be Linda; our cow Libby finally giving birth to a long awaited calf.
Now the deer is moving away from me, facing the opposite direction. I must make my move. Quietly, and as smoothly but quickly as possible, I raise the bow for a shot. It’s now darker, and, to my surprise, the `pins’ on the scope of my crossbow are hardly visible. I look hard. The deer is ten yards away. My first pin is twenty. I’ll use the twenty-yard pin. The deer is moving straight away but a bit to the right. The arrow (bolt) will pass behind the right shoulder at the top of his back and come out in front of the right shoulder lower on the other side.
At the release of the arrow the deer does a front flip. I see his the white of his underside and the insides of his hind legs, then nothing. The deer has disappeared into the darkness. A second of silence, and then crashing thirty yards away in the jungle beyond.
I dismount the tree stand. It’s dark. For the first time in the season I did not bring a flashlight. I look at my text messages.
Linda: Libby has a baby
It’s like 5 min old and on its feet
Me: I just shot a deer
Linda: Already sucking
Is it down?
By now I have the flashlight app on my phone on. I find the arrow (bolt), and it has plenty of blood on it. Deep red. But the light from the app is insufficient to follow a blood trail.
Me to Anthony: Shot a Spike. May need help
Anthony: Ok let me know
Me to Linda: It’s bleeding. Can’t find it yet. I need to come back for flashlight.
Linda: I’ll go with you
Anthony: It might be about 10 more minutes but I’m coming
Me: Linda is helping too. Meet at …
It gets dark fast in the woods of the South; I was urgent to get as much help as possible as soon as possible; I did NOT want to lose another deer. (I lost a doe earlier in the Season.)
Linda and I met Anthony in `The Meadow’ and proceeded to the stand. I showed them the arrow, and the blood I found. I would follow the blood, drop by drop; Linda and Anthony fanned out ahead, Linda to the right, and Anthony left.
A few minutes later Anthony proclaimed, `here’s your deer!’. I wanted to hear it again, … “What?’’… “Here’s your deer!” … a beautiful, nice size (fat) buck, piled up and almost out of sight in kind of a hole. We drug (dragged?) him out the `bottom’ and up to the far end of the Meadow. I went back for my bow; Anthony brought down his quad for final extraction. We loaded him up, and all headed to the Shop. Anthony headed home; Linda inside to the house; and I began to skin and start cutting the deer up.
I serve a generous God. Thank you Jesus!
They Split Up
It is in the first ten minutes after sunset, or ten to twenty, that if things are going to happen, they do. I was ready. Getting to the stand at least twenty minutes prior, and sending any last minute texts, I now raised my bow and leaned more forward in the tree stand. If an animal showed, I would have to move less to get a shot. I had in my mind the gray body of a deer coming into sight, like the two bucks that had come in, right at my feet, earlier in the season. Sixty yards out, coming down one of the trails, … a deer. Difficult to make out … now during that ten to twenty minutes after. I didn’t have binos, and didn’t want to raise my scope, as the deer appeared to be looking my way. Would it come down the hill, and eventually pass by my stand? But there was other movement. Not gray, but the color of the ground, orange-brown. It had to be a deer, another deer, in that mystical display of adaptive camo … more the non-visibility of the ground, than a deer. A doe, slowly making her way toward me. Forty yards.
The deer moved so seemingly slow, cautiously. She started to turn around, perhaps to join the other deer, that had loitered on, further down the trail, away. I wanted her to pass right in front, offering a broadside shot, but I was not confident she would. At any minute she might turn around, and join the other. Though I was barely moving, just enough to adjust the line of fire of the bow toward the deer, I felt very visible. I’d like an easy shot, but I might have to take a tougher one. I’d like a broadside shot, but I might have to take otherwise.
I had been practicing at thirty yards. The deer was now at thirty, quartering toward me, and a bit `down’, since I was elevated in a tree stand. At twenty-five yards I had a good sight picture. I would drive the arrow (bolt) just behind the shoulder facing me, aft of bone, so as to not hang it up in the shoulder blade; the arrow would go through internal organs and out the other side, midway back, and lower. I would likely miss the heart and lungs, and hit stomach, but also enough vitals to bring a rather quick death.
At the release I watched the red nock of the lighted arrow disappear as it reached the deer. The deer quickly turned around, ran fifteen yards along the path on which it had come, turned hard right, and disappeared into the jungle beyond.
I waited. The other deer that had loitered on east either heard the commotion, or got downwind of me, and raced back up the hill from where they had both come.
Giving some time for `things to settle’, I went to check my arrow. I was not one hundred percent sure of a hit, but the disappearance of the arrow at the deer, and the return sound of impact, were promising, along with the good sight picture at release, and the practice at that range. The arrow had good blood (deep red, and plenty). I texted Linda and Anthony … and that I would go back to the house for good flashlights.
Linda had finished taking care of the animals, and came with me, to get on the trail of the deer. I prayed that we would find the deer, easily. Earlier in the Season we lost one. I did not want a repeat. It was now getting pretty dark.
At the arrow there was good blood, but no more. Along the first fifteen yards of the deer’s retreat, there was no blood. But once she took the hard right and was heading up through the jungle, blood started to appear. I did not want to lose this deer! I hoped it was close. Linda, pointing the flashlight forward, exclaimed, “There’s your deer.” Taking advantage of my poor hearing, I asked, “What?” “There’s your deer!” Sure enough. Thank you, Jesus, for helping us find our deer.”
The deer turned out to be a young buck, but big … big-bodied, but with the tiniest of horns.
As with a lot of other game through the years, I pulled my belt, and used it to help extract the deer – we both dragged it down the `bottom’, and up to the `Meadow’, to which I was able to get our car, with which to bring the deer on home.
One Last Deer To Kill … (Dead Deer Standing)
(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.
Seek Ye First
I have been hunting hard this Season … hardest ever … maybe even too hard. I have tried everything, to get `one more deer’ … trying to get that `seven point’ that I messed up on earlier, or a big deer; after all, Crystal got one. Or at least one more `eater’. I have tried everything … old tactics, and new. And praying more and harder, and reading my Bible more consistently, and even asking Ricky (my Pastor) to pray (for my success). After all, `seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you!’ … things, of course, being deer.
I had been meaning to post several `messages’ (devotional messages/potential sermons). I posted one, but had several more. One thing or another had crowded posting them out. So today I put them first, pushed through, and got them posted! Yummmy stuff. Then I went to the far hunting blind to hunt.
Surely after doing all this `Kingdom’ stuff first, God would bless me with a deer.
Then I realized that all this effort, including `putting the Kingdom first’, still had some element of `deer’ actually being first. And, further, while the sermons are good stuff, Kingdom stuff, was their posting, or my present motive, really putting Him, and His Kingdom first?
“This is totally out of my control. God … if God brings a deer tonight … if I get a deer, I will know that putting the Kingdom first DOES activate blessing. If I do not get a deer, I will still assume it to be true, but without personal present proof. So, God, it’s up to you, to do, show … your part.”
“But, what if I’m still avoiding what God has for … ME! … Preaching is good … but maybe I’m still avoiding what God has uniquely called, equipped, and `talented’ me to do? Then all my good works don’t count. All my being good doesn’t count … not even being spiritual. … I need to go deeper … push in … get answers, get traction. … it’s all rags if it’s not what God actually has for me.”
There he is … a deer, a buck, moving along the ledges, on the left. I need to move my rifle left, it gets momentarily stuck, the deer is on a mission, but notices the commotion, and stops. I manage the gun into position; the deer is moving again. In a few steps he will be behind trees, and gone, `forever’. I don’t like shooting at moving deer, but it’s all I have. I put the crosshairs on the front shoulder and shoot. I’m sure of a good hit, but the deer runs. He gets up to the trail on top of the ledges, … after 30 or so yards, staggers, and is down!
Whoa, day after day of deerless hunting is broken. God came down. He showed up.
I sent Ricky a pic; he texted back: I prayed for you to get a bucket, and I knew in my spirit that it was going to happen. ( … buck, of course, not bucket; dang phones)
I met Linda with the red cart in the Meadow. The deer had expired on the trail heading down the ledges to the creek crossing (Thank you!). I had dragged it to the creek; now we crossed the creek with the wagon to get the deer. The previous deer fit nicely into the wagon; this one not so much. One the second or so try, heaving the deer into it, the wagon side broke. We managed to get it mostly back together, crossed the creek, down the `Bamboo Trail’, and up to the Meadow.
Linda was pushing hard, probably harder than I was pulling … it was wiping her out; she seemed in a panic, either for the effort, or the postponed need to take care of her farm animals. We paused. “We’re too old for this s…!” And continued.
I hope she’s not right.
PRAISE THE LORD!
I have made a lot of mistakes this hunting season, and they have cost me `deer’-ly. But I am learning. The nice thing about Alabama is that you can make a lifetime of mistakes all in one season! This year the deer movements have been different. At the Far Stand, instead of coming down the hidden valley and ending up at the kill zone forty yards on the left, they have been coming in from the right, into my kill zone in front of the stand, only ten yards away. Some of the deer have caught me very much by surprise. But in any case, ten yards is too close! Too many things can go wrong. The slightest sound, the slightest movement, the slightest wind eddy … and I’m busted! Dang! That buck got away! Can’t count on him making that mistake again!
So, I cleared brush and moved the kill zone in front of the stand out ten yards, to twenty or so. On several occasions, the spooked deer ran just ten or twenty yards and stopped for a last look, before bounding off out of sight. While they didn’t give me time to put rifle crosshairs on them, I could perhaps have got off a shotgun blast. So I decided to try the Far Stand with a shotgun, specifically, my 12 Ga. Benelli SBE, with 3-½ 00 Buckshot loads. I also brought a padded seat, so that I could rest the gun more in line with the kill zone. I got up into the stand and waited for the `customary’ time … the `golden hour’ … the first ten minutes after sunset, when, if the deer are going to show up, that’s when.
Here one comes!
My gun was pointed the wrong direction, but I was able to carefully get it around, aligned with the deer’s anticipated path, as he slipped through the trees, toward the trail between the two kill zones. He was coming in from the left. I had not patterned the gun and load recently; I didn’t know for sure that I would take a shot at forty, the far zone; hopefully my debut with the shotgun would be at a deer closer. He came onto the trail at thirty. I took off the safety, waiting for him to quarter toward me, and pulled the trigger, quite frankly not knowing what would happen.
This Ends Tonight!
I had been playing cat-and-mouse with a small buck at the far stand. If I went out late, he’d already be there, and would run off. If I went out early, I’d wait and wait and he wouldn’t show. Finally, one evening, he came in from the right, … ten yards … but he sensed something when I pulled up my rifle, and fled, not giving me a shot. I knew I’d eventually get him.
I got out to the stand not too early, not too late. Or maybe it was too late … a deer went running by sixty yards left. But I surmised it not to be the buck, but another deer, that a neighbor spooked a tiny bit early target practicing in his back yard. I would still hope the buck I was working with would show.
TEXTING (to Anthony): Tonight has a good feel.
I paid attention, scanning as best I could through the trees and brush and vines, in some places out to a hundred yards or so. If I can see the deer before he gets close, I can get set up for the kill. A deer, thirty yards left. Somehow he’d got in pretty close, undetected, slipping through the trees and brush. I only had a glimpse, but knew it to be a buck. As it got behind some trees I pulled up the rifle, waiting for him to emerge on the other side. But he didn’t. I waited. Nothing. I waited more. Nothing. Could he have seen me? Quite maybe. I waited more, nothing … no deer busting for cover, no deer reversing in retreat. Nothing. And then the mind games start. Did he somehow slip off through the brush without me seeing? I thought I would have seen him. Still nothing. Maybe I’m just imagining I saw a deer. No! … I know I saw one.
I have found it really hard to out-wait a deer if he has a mind to stand still and wait. It looked like there was a tiny bit of gray among the gray tree trunks. I pulled up the scope. Aha! An eye, looking straight at me, one antler, the deer’s mouth, still chewing something from earlier, and the upper end of his neck. That’s all I could see in the five-inch gap between the tree trunks.
I have a good rest. “This ends tonight!” I know I am dialed in with the gun; it is zeroed for forty yards. At this range the bullet will fly one-quarter inch low of the crosshairs. I put the crosshairs high on the neck near the base of his head and `mid-way’ between the tree trunks on either side; `an inch off’ in any direction … and I still have him. I pull the trigger. The boom of the 30-06 fills the forest; I do not see a deer running off … he’s on the ground.
TEXTING TO ANTHONY: I got him.
Deer and Humans
Got a nice spike deer this evening. It went like this: I texted everyone on the way out the door that I was headed out to the `far stand’. On the way, I could hear Miles (son-in-law) on the tractor, clearing brush. “Damn (Dangit), he didn’t get my text, and is going to be making all kinds of noise right behind the stand.” I hoped he would stop, but knew he wouldn’t, as he would not hear his phone, and he has lights on the tractor, and will work into the dark. Conventional hunting theory would suggest he’s busting my hunt, … the noise of the tractor and brush clearing, a mere hundred yards behind me. But instead of being `frustrated’ about a busted hunt, I decided to prove conventional theory wrong! “These are whitetail deer – the live around humans all the time, day and night. They hear tractors, trucks, loud noises, children playing, dogs barking, clanks and bangs, every day.” And so I waited. Yup, there he is! …Sure enough, a glimpse of movement on the left. Fifty yards out. Three-fourths invisible, in mostly faded light. A nice spike buck – sneaking down the brushy draw. As I moved my `weapon system’ to engage the deer, I knocked the set of deer antlers with me in the ladder stand (for rattling bucks), and one antler went clang-banging down the (metal) ladder to the ground. Ooooooops!!! This definitely got the deer’s attention; he was now looking right at me. Now or never!. The buck will not get closer, or present a better shot, and might just well flee any instant.
This is where it’s nice to know exactly where your gun shoots. I needed to get the bullet through the brush and trees, unobstructed, to and into the shoulder and vitals of the deer, forty-five yards away.
At the shot, surprisingly, the deer took to flight; I watched, as he ran about fifty yards and then disappeared. (I thought a solid shoulder shot would put him to the ground; but no.) I suspected he was down, out there somewhere, probably just beyond where I last saw him, … and so went to look. Sure enough. A beautiful young whitetail deer buck.
I summoned (texted) the family for help with the extraction, but knew a motorized vehicle could not get to where I was at. Thus the belt, and I started dragging. I always wear a belt.
Buckshot! … (Deer and Humans II)
I offered to meet Linda at the fence we’re working on. She agreed to bring a snack. I had been working on a drainage swale for her chicken coop across the property, and as I finished up, I noticed Linda walking back and forth, near the fence, while waiting for me. It wasn’t an `impatience’ walk, but more like she was looking at or for something, or herding something.
As I got close she asked if I had a gun. “No; but I can go get one; why do you ask?” How she would answer this question would determine the ordnance I would get. … “Well there’s four deer over there (pointing to the Rodney fence).” I went in and got Linda’s 20 gauge shotgun, and loaded up with No. 2 Buckshot. “Where?” “There.” Sure enough, four deer were sneaking along the Rodney fence.
Rodney is my neighbor to the east. We have been in a border dispute since the day we moved in. His survey of his property starting from a corner on west side of my property shows his boundary line 38 feet west of where my survey, starting from another corner at the south of my property, shows my property line. Times about 690 feet of boundary, it accounts for five-eighths of an acre. And pure jungle. Both surveys have legitimacy, though mine seems to agree more with the County tax parcels, Zillow, and other.
To functionally remedy the dispute, and to keep the endless flow of neighbor dogs entering from the east, I offered to `split the difference’ with him (Rodney), by cutting a long diagonal (with subsequent fence) through the disputed piece, from what he thinks is his northwest corner at the top, to where I believe my southeast corner is at the bottom … conveniently keeping his landfill dump pile (which started the dispute) on his side, and also providing a remaining patch of brush buffer, between his property, and mine, at the road.
Interestingly, the deer seem to like this little tangle. It’s 38.41 feet wide at the road and narrows down to nearly nothing at the other end, squeezed by Rodney’s rubbish dumping.
So, to the din of one of Rodney’s dump trucks coming and going, the weekly garbage truck coming and going, and the rock music coming out of Rodney’s shop … I returned with Linda’s shotgun. As I pushed south along the line, Linda’s shotgun in hand, I was working the deer toward the squeeze point, 600 feet away … I had to hope the deer would jump the fence to my side, for a possible shot. It really could only happen at the far end, because only there would I be legally far enough from any buildings (100 yards, by Alabama law), and only there could I shoot without fear of hitting buildings with a ricochet.
Rodney’s dumping creates a squeeze point where the deer jumped out of the brush and into the open landfill on Rodney’s side. But they wanted to go down into the cover of the ravine on my side, so they came back in past the squeeze point, where I was now waiting.
A small deer went first, saw me and paused.
I have never killed a deer with shotgun and buckshot.
I pulled up and … well, I guess this is what it’s about … and fired. The deer bolted and ran down into the ravine as though unscathed. I expected the blast would knock it down, but no. And now I was wondering if the deer was hit, or even hurt, at all. The deer ran about fifty yards and `disappeared’1.
The remaining deer, thinking perhaps the first one made it to safety, despite the shotgun blast, decided to follow, and ran right in front of me. For a few seconds it was a deer rodeo. I big doe provided a big moving target, right in front of both of us (Linda watching the whole thing), but I didn’t shoot, as I still had no idea whether I was `killing’ the deer with the buckshot, only wounding them, or maybe just scaring them. So I let them run off, following the first, down into the ravine.
Linda said she could `see something moving’ where the first deer vanished. I knew it was my deer, down, and that it was now dead. I followed to where I’d last seen the deer, coincidentally where she was pointing, fifty yards from where I shot it, found it, dead.
Of the eighteen 0.27-inch diameters shot pellets coming out the barrel of the shotgun, it appeared that six to eight had hit the deer in various places, including leg, head, shoulder, lower torso … quite a feat for the small deer to run that far so mortally wounded. Many of the pellets went clear though stopping only at the inside of skin on the other side.
Now I know what a shotgun with buckshot will do.
1 There are two kinds of `disappeared’ while deer hunting here. One kind is when the deer, in flight, finally succumbs to its wounds, and collapse mid-stride. The other is when the deer is not mortally hurt, or not hurt at all, and truly disappears. `Forever’. But it seemed like the former. Though I didn’t know for sure.
Brock (text, from across the property): Did you just shoot?
Me (text back): (pic)
Stolen (Game Camera)
The far kill zone, in front of the deer blind, is 45 yards away. I have a game camera set up just beyond it, pointing across the zone back toward the blind. It is in easy view from the blind. When it triggers and when it is dark I can see a brief red flash from the infrared light it emits.
What was that!??? A deer?, a chipmunk?, a raccoon, some other creature? Too dark to see!
Every day or so I switch the memory card in the cam to see what’s been lurking in the forest in my absence. This morning, paying attention, while still quite dark, and straining to see the red light being triggered … there was not only no little red light, as it got light it became apparent … there was no camera! “What the hell!!!” “Someone stole it!” My mind raced through all sorts of scenarios, of who could have taken it, and when. Did he (or she) come in after I switched cards late yesterday afternoon? Or after my evening hunt? I surmised it was after the evening hunt – otherwise I would have noticed it being gone then. That means someone was in there after dark. That’s creepy. That’s f-d up! No doubt he/she/they were snooping around, realized they were `caught on camera’, and decided to take the evidence. The Old-Timer who hunts the property next to mine has people on his camera coming in at night. Who? The kids at the Lake? No; I doubt it. The person from the trailer court, again? Dammit.
I had previously posted the property with No Hunting and No Trespassing signs, and had chased off two hunters (or one hunter twice) coming in from the trailer court; so they were `on notice’. Further, I had talked to a Sheriff Deputy about the matter, and he said, “Set up a camera; see if you can get a picture; bring it in; someone here will recognize him …” (This shows what kind of neighbors we have on that side of the property.) Linda asked if the camera would have taken a picture of him (or her). I said, “Yeah, but it’s on the card in the camera, and he (she) has the camera!”
So my mind went to deterrence. I had just watched a video by a former Navy SEAL on (deterring) home invasion. Interestingly, as capable as this guy is at `eliminating’ an invader, he teaches and admonishes everything but. In the case of home invasion, killing someone in your home, or on your property, though perhaps even justified, is the absolute last, and most-to-be-avoided, resort. He teaches deterrence. Deterrence by psy-ops. Make your property look like there is a higher chance of discovery than another property, and the perp will pick the other. Yeah, in a hunting confrontation there are firearms – I do NOT want to get into a confrontation on my property – even if I am in the `right’ – and he/she in the `wrong’.
“Work the Problem.”
For a home: floodlights, motion-detection lights, … lights, music, noises at random times. Cars parked here, there, and in different (changing) places. Set up surveillance cameras (even if they don’t work!).
For my property: … make it look used, active. Make it look like someone might show up at any minute. Make it look like there’s probably a (hidden) game camera sending pictures in real time back to my computer, with text alerts. Make it look like I might be in any one of my hunting stands or blinds, or walking my trails and may show up at any minute.
So I stepped up the psy-op. I re-groomed my trails. I left water bottles, candy wrappers, and hunting stuff at random places. And I move them. I cleared a spot for a potential storage shed. I leave tools, sending the message I am working on something, and may return at any minute to get the tool or keep working. I ride my bike on the trails. I walk my trails; sometimes run. Sometimes I make a lot of noise, even sing; at other times I go quiet. Everything changing, and active. Cut down more trees … yeah, the sound of the chainsaw! Markers of various kinds. Chairs set here and there, suggesting I go up there and just sit, and watch, and listen … or two chairs, the other one for Linda. Some things that make sense, and some that (purposefully) don’t.
I bought another game camera.
At the end of the morning hunt I grabbed a metal chair currently not in use so to place it up the hill as part of my psy-op. As I crossed the kill zone … “what the hell – there’s my camera! – untied and on the ground off in the leaves.” Hmmm; maybe it wasn’t `stolen’ after all. Or maybe the perp took the card and tossed the camera. I doubt it; he would have the pictures, but he’d also be sending a clear message someone was there and took the card. Then I would be on high alert, and looking for his @$$. I opened the camera and it still had the card; so now I could perhaps see what had happened. I continued with the chair. Once back home I stuck the card in my computer for a look. Aha! Caught on Camera! … the raccoon family to blame. Face shots of raccoons! Body shots! Parts-of-body shots! Probably due to the cherry-flavor cover scent I had on it. They untied it from the tree and had their time with it real good.
That the `perp’ was a family of raccoons brought a feeling of relief, and that, at least for that night, my property had not been violated (that I know of). There was also a tiny bit of relief that I still had that game camera. But the psy-op continues. There have been trespassers before. I have indeed had to chase people off. And the neighbors are (still) on the Sheriff’s radar. The world is what it is, not necessarily what I often wish it would be; and people are not necessarily who I would like them to be, or think they should be.
For now it (the psy-op) seems to be working.
ENDNOTE: at the end of the day, or I should say, a day or so after the Season, my hunting blind was raided by a low-life neighbor. I had just removed valuable hunting gear. Some food and flashlights were taken, but some other stuff remained.
Back to psy-ops and patrolling the property.
She Kicked Me
Jeff to Anthony (text): “Wind is good here. I think I’ll give it a try.”
Anthony reply: “Me too.”
Anthony went to his spot, and I to mine … my `Deer Den’ (hunting blind).
Anthony: “I’ve got deer everywhere. They are moving.”
Anthony: “I didn’t have my gun pulled up yet and 4 does came by. I let them walk by and I pulled my gun up hoping big boy was behind them but he wasn’t.”
Friday morning …
Jeff to Anthony (text): “Those 4 does came by for visit. I watched them for a quite a while … eventually I shot the big momma.”
“She kicked me … ”
Here’s how it played out …
I got to the Den right at the time it’s legal to shoot – one-half hour before sunrise. At this latitude it’s still pretty dark, but a rifle scope with a lot of glass might pull in enough light to be able to put together a shot. But so far this year I have only seen deer later, after sunrise. In Idaho, at this same hour, the deer are just vanishing from the fields, into the timber, and far before sunrise they are gone, and it’s `over’. But here, I have learned to wait till sunrise, and then at least another 30 minutes, as the deer here show up later. I say `learned’ because a lot of mornings, here, by the time of sunrise, I have assumed it was `over’, and have quit. How many deer have I missed by not staying later?
So, this morning … Sunrise … 6:50 AM. At 7:08 AM (you can do the math … about 20 minutes after), and quite light, a doe shows up. And another deer behind her, and another, and another. These are probably the same deer Anthony saw the night before last. I let them come in, closer, closer. Maybe a buck is behind them, but I doubt it. These deer don’t look `chased’ by a buck. The lead doe was definitely the largest. I let her come closer still. I have toyed with trying to get two deer in one shot, but it will not be today, as, one, they are all does and the limit is one doe (per day), and, two, I’m shooting the 260, the lower powered of my two rifles. To try and send a bullet through one deer, with energy enough to get a second, … I would want to use my 30-06 to try and pull off such a stunt.
I waited for the deer to get broadside, with no others behind, and pulled the trigger. She rain more or less straight up the hill, and then disappeared; I assumed she was down, and dead. The other three deer fled up the trail on which they had come.
I left the blind and took a look. No blood on the ground where she was standing when I shot. Hmmmm. But I know I must have got her … stationary target at 30 yards with good rest for the gun. Perhaps I was using the crosshairs wrong. Nah … I took pursuit up the hill
I climbed to where I last saw her. While these White-tailed deer are all gray and nearly invisible walking or standing, once they expire, their white underside and insides of legs are apparent, and they are fairly easy to see laying in the forest. But I couldn’t find her. What the … ??? But now, just in front of me, there is a deer walking around. Is this the same deer I shot? Or another? The others ran the other way. It must be. Deer walking around aren’t that tall, despite the pictures in the outdoor magazines.) I shot her in the head and she went down. I walked up on her to take a look, stooped down, and in her last throw of life she kicked me, knocking me down.
Whoa! Wild animals are strong.
I dragged her to the creek. My son-in-law came with the Quad for the rest of the extraction.
I let Anthony know what I had done, and that “She kicked me!”
Seven and Eight
White-Tailed Antlered Buck Limit – Three per hunter during all combined seasons, one per day.
White-Tailed Unantlered Deer Limit – One unantlered deer may be taken per day in addition to one antlered buck per day.
(So, just right, one can take TWO deer a day here …)
At precisely 5:00 AM in the middle of a bad dream in very deep sleep my alarm went off to wake me for the morning hunt. I couldn’t decide which was worse, the dream or the alarm. To try and erase both I chose to go back to sleep, contemplating not going hunting. But, Braidee, who we had asked to wait till 5:00 to take a shower in the morning, was now showering in the next room; it would be no use trying to get back to sleep.
I waited for Linda to make coffee, and got up. Once up we got into a good conversation, stalling my getting out into the woods. Finally I broke the conversation, promising to finish later, and headed out. By now it is already getting light.
Sunrise: 6:50 AM
Legal Shooting Hours Start (One-half Hour Before Sunrise): 6:20 AM
I get to the Deer Den (hunting blind) right at about 6:20 and get settled. It is still pretty dark. So far the deer I have killed this year have been after sunrise, but I get there beforehand just in case. I am using the `Big Gun’, my 30-06, with 180-grain bullets, in case I need to plow through a few twigs to get the `Big One’. A deer comes down the trail into the kill zone, 45 yards out; it is still pretty dark. `A doe.’ I put the crosshairs behind the shoulder and break the morning silence with the roar of the `06’. The deer collapses. I text Linda: “I go look” … it is 6:25.
I dragged the deer to the creek and went back to the house. I asked Linda if she wanted to help me drag the deer out; she declined. “Ask Miles.”
Miles didn’t appear to be awake yet, so I drafted a text. There was no hurry, actually; I drafted a text asking that he bring the Quad to the creek for the extract, at, say, 7:30, and queued the text as a `Draft’ in my phone, letting him sleep in a little. The sun wasn’t even up yet. Then I got this crazy idea … most of the deer that I have killed in the morning this year have been after sunrise. I revised the text … “bring the Quad to the creek … but NO SOONER than 8:00” … headed back to the Den … and sent it.
Settled back in the Den, and with the pressure off to get a deer, I engaged God on some issues in my life. A buck comes into the kill zone, following exactly the path of the earlier deer. I put the crosshairs behind the shoulder and break the morning silence again with the roar of the 30-06. The buck runs up the hill and disappears. I know by the slight crouch in his run that he’s a `dead deer’. I text Linda … “I go look” … Linda texts back “Are you serious?” … it is 7:25 AM. I drag the deer to the creek and the other deer, and wait for Miles.
We depend on deer for meat. I can eat deer every day, and often do! Linda charged me this Season with getting eight deer. This morning I got `Seven and Eight’.
Raccoon Deer (aka Deer No. 4)
Linda’s deer (meat) order for the Season is 8 (8 deer).
As of Monday, with the Season over half over, I was at 3. And one of those was pretty small. Our weather has been too warm, and no rut. So there have been a lot of uneventful hours in the deer blind and stands.
But nearly daily I am having to deal with raccoons and opossums caught in my traps, a seemingly endless supply. On the way to my deer blind each morning I pass one of the raccoon/opossum traps. Yup, another raccoon. The hunt Monday morning was without event, so then to deal with the trapped raccoon. This one was a `monster’, huge, twice or more the size of Linda’s pug Molly. Almost like a bear cub. Where do they come from? … an endless supply? In the last month or so I have killed, let’s count the tails in the shop … six … but also a comparable number of opossum … one of those also being a monster … and countless rats, squirrels, and mice. (At this point in penning the story Linda asks me why I am laughing? “Because of that day I caught two opossum at once … one monster in the big trap, and another opossum in the smaller trap – he completely filled the trap” … and how the hell did he even get in there?). Back to the story. Back to the blind at evening. The temperature was finally colder, and I was hopeful. People argue whether we (humans) can hear from God. I claim to hear from God. I hope it’s Him (God). I believe it’s Him, though I’ll admit I probably don’t act like it at times. God: “I am going to bless you, soon.”
There is what I call the `Golden Hour’. It is a 10-minute slice of time that commences 10 minutes after sunset proper, and ends 10 minutes later, at 20 minutes after. IF the deer move at sunset (at all), they move during this 10-minute slot. It works perfect for them. They have both vision faculties (day and night) at full function, while our (human) vision is failing. And the deer walk nearly invisible at this time.
Texting Jaci: 5:04: … Killed a huge raccoon this morning. Twice the size of Linda’s 1-year old pug.
5:05 (again to Jaci): But maybe the cold will get the deer moving.
I looked up from my phone and something gray moving up the trail into my kill zone. My first thought – another huge raccoon. Then I realized it was a deer. I dropped my phone and reached for my rifle. A small buck. He noticed the commotion and started to spook. I put the crosshairs on him, but could tell I was going to `pull’ the shot (off target) so I deliberately stopped the trigger pull and re-positioned the crosshairs on the deer. The buck was now quartering away to make an exit – now or never – pulled the trigger – BANG. The deer turned around and ran back down the trail, and out of sight. He had that `look’ of a mortally hit deer, but it all happened so fast!
I left the blind to go look, getting darker now every minute. I went to where the deer was standing at the shot. No blood. Almost always the bullet, after expanding and delivering most of its energy to the deer, passes through, taking with it a spray of blood, or goo, out the other side. (Pink spray means lung shot; dark red means heart or vein; red with tint of green means stomach.) But there was nothing. Ughhh. Could I have missed? Maybe; I did have a bit of `buck fever’. I walked down the trail, with flashlight. I came across blood. Blood red. Good. But not much. A bit farther I found my deer.
5:10 (to Jaci, with picture): I just shot a 2 pt.
5:11 (Jaci to me): Ohh jeez that’s a big raccoon …
… 5:26 (to Jaci): That’s what I thought he was at first.
Sunset that day was 4:52.
10 minutes after was 5:02.
Let’s see what happens tonight, during the `Golden Hour’.
After killing the nice eight-point buck a week or so ago, there’s occurred a revival in deer hunting interest with Miles (son-in-law), Braidee, and Brock (aged 17 and 16, grandsons-in-law). I have been finding out where they want to hunt each evening, and then I go fill in the gap behind them. Today Brock asked if he could hunt out of my ground blind. `Sure!’. And I gave him some pointers. They all headed out while I was still working; once done, I chatted a bit with Linda, and then grabbed her shotgun (20 gauge), with buckshot, and checked out the `East Line – Pasture Fence’, where I got a deer with shotgun earlier in the Season. After walking the Line, I sat for a bit, and surmised it would be a good spot to work for deer in the future.
Just short of sunset proper, I headed to the (vacant) far tree stand. With shotgun I could engage something coming out right in front, or under me, but not more distant; in that case I would watch and pass information on to the others.
[Jeff to Brock, with Miles and Braidee listening in] … this time of day they’ll come from your right … There’s a trail … crossing 30 yards in front, and another at 45. But in reality they can, and have, come from any direction on or off trail].
As I was texting, a four-point buck stepped out of the woods about 25 yards away from me. I just didn’t `feel it’ … just a tiny bit far for comfort with Linda’s gun, 20 Ga. with modified choke. (Or so I thought.) Let live, get bigger … I’ve killed enough deer. So I just watched. (The liddle rabbit I also routinely see, emerged.) The buck slowly worked his way … away. Come this way, and you’re doomed. But if you keep going away, and toward Brock, you might also be doomed. I cultivated the thought of the deer heading to Brock, at the Blind, and he getting his first deer.
The buck took a step to the hillside atop which is the trail leading to Brock, and backed away. After some more milling around, the buck mounted the hillside, and turned left on the trail … towards Brock.
Now the deer IS doomed.
[5:18 PM: Jeff] There is a little buck coming to you from the right.]
[5:18: Brock] K
[5:21: Jeff] He will be CLOSE. Any second
[5:21: Miles] Get it?
[5:21: Miles] ?
[5:21: Brock] Hehehe
[5:21: Brock] Down first shot
[5:22: Miles] Coming your way if you want help
[5:22: Braidee] Congratulations
[5:22: Miles] ?
[5:22: Brock] No I got it
[5:24: Brock] Actually yes please idk if I can carry it
[5:26: Miles] Inbound
Eventually we all gathered at the site – Brock with his first deer!
“Are You F-g Kidding Me!!!??”
Are you fucking kidding me!
Linda bought me a really nice crossbow. Ravin, R10. The `Deer Den’ (tent blind) had not been set up yet. I set it up at the `Confluence’ in the afternoon. At evening I grabbed the bow and headed to the blind, to see how it would work. I took the range finder. The far corn was at 45 yards, and the near corn 30. I fussed with the bow in the window of the blind – how would I get off a shot? How do I keep the limbs from hitting the sides of the opening when I shoot? Do I take off the safety with my left hand, or right? And if my right, with my thumb? And on the left side of the bolt, or the right?
I looked through the scope. No fucking way! Are you f-g kidding me! A nice six-point buck arrived at the far corn.
As I fumbled through the above described motions, the movement caught the deer’s attention. I placed the vitals between the 40 and 50 yard `pins’ … there was nothing left to do, except release the bolt.
A loud whack indicated a solid hit. The deer ran to the right, and disappeared. Frazzled at it all, I went to the house, scooped Miles up from the dinner table, whispered the situation, … he and I headed back to look for the deer.
SWEET! (Found him.) The bolt passed a bit low, but the wide-sweeping mechanical broadhead did its thing – slicing the heart on the pass-through.
Mouths to Feed
The other day I messed up, or maybe `it just didn’t come together’. I seemed to know it wouldn’t, even as it was unfolding. Barely starting to get light, I could see six deer forty-five yards out. Twin fawns, a couple or three does, and glimpses of a bigger deer bringing up the rear. Horns? Though technically legal shooting hours, the crosshairs weren’t visible. I just couldn’t put together a good sight picture. I turned on the crosshair illumination, and now the crosshairs, were too bright, and glared out any targets. I turned the illumination back off, but the deer were nervous, likely I was already busted. It was over, they moved on. I knew it would not come together, and it didn’t. I was disappointed I didn’t get a shot, but also relieved, having killed a doe just a few days previous. It was also nice to know there were still a lot of does and fawns around. And, it was nice to not have busted the group, to never see them again. As I processed the opportunity-missed in the days following, I must have inadvertently turned the crosshair illumination on high, instead of low, and thus the blinding glare.
Last day of Christmas Holiday. I’d like to close the deal on one more deer before it’s over. Got to the blind early. Scanning the moonlit terrain with my binos. Checking the illumination on the crosshairs. Perfect. Tiny bit of movement on the skyline. Nothin. Daylight. Nothin. Tiny bit of movement on the skyline … again, nothin … `must be a squirrel’. Goofing off on my Galaxy (cellphone). Enough goofing off – done. `What the … a deer walking straight toward me, from the top (skyline). The deer already sees me, fifty yards out. I don’t want the situation to decompose; … but I knew it would come together, and it DID. Straight-on shot. The deer collapses. It squirms a bit in the last moments of life. I know it’s dead.
A small (button-head) buck.
Mouths to Feed.
Linda named him `Bucky’. (We name all the deer we kill … for recovery in the freezer.)
Thursday morning I was still working from home. I had a bit of comp time so I hunted in the AM from the `Deer Den’. I figured if something big came by, I’d take it, but otherwise not get tangled up in dealing with a deer and being late for work.
As it became light, I noticed a `white tree’ a hundred yards up the hill. Why hadn’t I noticed that before? It was like the outlining of a box, or the lower half of an `H’ .. white! … and I wanted to know what it was … assuming it to be white branches of some tree, probably fallen.
I pulled up the binos and here comes a deer walking down the hill toward me. It looked `liddle’ …I just watched. It got closer and closer, and the closer it got, the `liddeler’ it got. I put the crosshairs on it, and `shot it’ a hundred times. I did not want to shoot this deer. I texted Linda, “I’m watching a tiny deer. I don’t want to shoot. Too `liddle’.” I took a picture and sent it to her. The deer finally noticed me, now pretty close, alert, but did not run off. Linda texted back, “Wait for big brother.”
I had taken the wrong phone, which was not set on silent, and the chime of the incoming text was all the deer could take, and was gone!
I spent the next couple days thinking how easy it is to shoot deer. Just put the crosshairs where you want the bullet to go, and pull the trigger.
This morning I went out again. Now Saturday, and not needing to go in to work, I could stay out a bit longer. Would I take a doe? I want a nice buck. And what will Anthony think if I just shoot the first deer that walks by? Light came, without event. I decided I’d stay till 8:15. On the game camera a big doe appeared, the same day I watched the liddle one, about that time. It was cold. And I also promised Linda I’d help her with fence.
8:05: To Linda: Gonna give it 10 more minutes, then come in.
I started to get ready to depart. A deer appeared out in front, in my peripheral vision, as I was fussing in the blind.
… The deer, a doe, close in, sniffing and looking around, was now moving on, away, rather quickly. I pulled up the rifle and tried to put together a shot. She was close enough to try a head shot, but moving too quickly; I kept searching for a quartering-away line-up.
Thirty-five yards away … at the shot the deer leaped, <em>as though not hit, … hmmm</em> … ran up the hill ten yards, turned around, and stopped, looked around, giving me view broadside. <em>It wasn’t hit!</em>. A hit would be visible on the broadside facing me (bullet exit), and there was none. I had worked a new round into the chamber, put the crosshairs behind the shoulder …
The deer jumped forward, kicking rear legs back, and ran up the hill to the right. I was confident now of a hit, seeing the deer kick … .
Knowing Linda would have heard the shots …
8:08: To Linda: I go look.
8:09: From Linda: Lol.
I went to look. On the ground where the deer was at the first shot I found a big gouge in the ground, no doubt from the bullet, and the area bloodless … clean miss indeed.
Maybe deer aren’t quite as easy to shoot as I thought.
On the ground where I took the second shot, `blood’. Good. I hit!
Eighty yards up the hill I found the deer.
“The Gods favor me. That’s twice now I have missed a deer cold on the first shot, and the deer gave me a [standing] second chance.”
(Andy, … you and Wyatt might like this little story; it’s a continuation of the `Adaptive Camo” stories from last year.)
The other day I was working from home. After work I grabbed my rifle and headed out to the `far stand’ to see if maybe I could get another deer in the remaining daylight. (The ladder stand is a metal ladder bolted to a metal footrest and seat, strapped to a tree about 20 feet above the ground.) It was cloudy and getting dark early. Downwind was to my right. After a while I thought `what the hell’ (`heck’ for Wyatt) and started silently watching car crash compilation YouTube videos on my phone. After a long distraction watching car crashes, I looked up from my phone, which was actually looking down … and, right underneath me, almost like I could just jump on it, … noticed a twig wiggling below me down and to my right …. At first I dismissed it for the wind, but then noticed the wind had stopped. I still wanted to dismiss it, but something about the movement wouldn’t let me. The odd thing was that even though the twig was tiny, and right below me, and there was no cover, I couldn’t see what was making the movement. The more I watched – I recognized the movement of the twig was just like when our goats are nibbling on a branch … kind of a `yanking’ action. But I couldn’t see what was making the movement! As hard as I looked, it was like there was part of the groundcover … gray and missing. Everywhere else I could the leaves and dead branches on the ground, but under the twig just kind of … gray nothing. I pulled up my rifle scope and the distance was so close all I could see was gray blur. By this time I was convinced it must be a deer, but still couldn’t see it. All I could see was an absence of the ground. No white ring around the eyes, no white lining to a tail, no horns, nothing.
I readied myself around a bit in the stand, hoping to get just enough attention from the animal to get it to move and disclose itself. A gray nearly invisible form started to move away and meander about. Things were now happening fast … and I was not sure that I would get a shot, but when the deer turned and came around a tree, and presented a good shot, I took it. The deer, a beautiful whitetail doe, ran about thirty yards and collapsed.
I went back the next day in good daylight and was astonished that the only `cover’ the deer had was a tiny vine with about nine or ten little leaves on it (which the deer was eating one by one). That she was so invisible, with nothing to hide behind, is utterly amazing. It was like the fur absorbed all the light.
Deer tenderloin and eggs following were utterly delicious.
We name all our deer headed to the freezer; this deer we named “Twiggy”.
Beginner’s Luck versus … `Works’
This thing called `Beginner’s Luck’ also happens in deer hunting. Specifically, when a new hunter comes along, and who, with little skill, and no experience, `right off the bat’ gets a nice deer! Easy! I know of one case, in fact, when a newcomer harvested his first deer so easily, that he decided it was too easy, and abandoned the idea of considering the sport any further. There are, in my opinion, several factors in favor of `Beginner’s Luck’. First of all, God, and/or, the Universe, is `kind’, giving. Second, the beginner is generally optimistic, `excited’, for the hunt (unless he’s/she’s pessimistic, to which Beginners Luck doesn’t much apply), and, the Beginner hasn’t practiced actions that `bust’ a hunt; the Beginner `doesn’t know any better’. And, finally, us `other hunters’ often try too hard, and our angst actually pushes the game away from us. The newcomer, to whom `Beginner’s Luck’ seems to fall, is the optimistic first-timer who, is euphoric about the hunt, but lives in `detachment’.
Once the honeymoon is over, and especially going after Whitetail Deer, you better start figuring out how to do it right.
You Gotta Do the Work
The nice thing about deer hunting in Alabama, with long season, and generous bag limit, is that you can make a lifetime of mistakes all in one season.
Having made up my mind that I would not make the mistakes I made last year, which cost me dearly, I made corrections to my actions; I was ready. The particular `actions’ (strategies, tactics, methods, etc.) I reserve for another piece. I was in the deer stand, and now the wait. I thought about having to drum up enough `faith’ to get a deer. Faith, does, in some sense work. Our thoughts are things. They are creative. The Universe obeys our thoughts. But, frankly, I have made enough mistakes, to not have much faith. A lot can go wrong in a deer hunt. Or, there might flat out be no deer around. But this day was different. Instead of trusting in my faith, I could trust in my `works’. I had made, and was practicing, the necessary modifications to my actions. I was now doing things `right’. I could have faith in the works, not faith in my faith.
So it is with God. Christians resist the works (actions) that are supposed to be exhibited by believers … claiming, that we are to live by faith, not by works.
But the Bible says that we show our faith BY our works.
So, in contrast to trying to drum up faith, or optimism, or positive thinking, … or by some means being lucky enough to get a deer, I decided, rationally, to trust in my works (changes to my hunting tactics).
We can think, wish, believe Christian things all day long … but what catches God’s attention, and actually changes the world around us, are our `actions’.
I was ready. The doe came into the kill zone, twenty yards away, suddenly, but totally as expected. With little movement I settled the top `pin’ of the crossbow scope on her side just behind the shoulder, and released the bolt. The bright orange-red lighted nock traced the sixteen-one-hundredths-of-a-second path to the deer, disappeared for an instant, and reappeared in the ground on the other side of where the deer had been. The deer instantly turned around and ran up through the jungle from where she’d come. I noted her path as far as I could see, disappearing about fifty yards away.
Because she seemed quite alive where I last saw her, I quickly climbed down from the stand to look for evidence of a good hit. The `whack’ of impact of the bolt (arrow), versus the silence of an arrow going straight into the earth, was the first good indicator of a hit.
With hunting in the evening there is the easy panic of having to track and find a hit deer in fast-diminishing light. And this was no exception. The lighted nock made finding the arrow easy. First order of business was to look for blood on the arrow, and ascertain the location of the hit (on the deer) by the condition of the blood. But there was no visible blood on the arrow … how could that be?!!! I looked closer. But the arrow was `sticky’. Looking closer there was the faintest hint of blood on the white-colored arrow vane. Good, I was convinced of a hit. But I was a bit worried about the lack of blood. Every minute, or even every second, it is getting darker. I look at the forest floor for blood, and realize, looking at the brown and orange leaves, that it will be near impossible to follow a blood trail. I head to where I last saw the deer.
Much of the property I hunt is rocky. I passed a granite boulder protruding from the forest floor, and there were multiple dark red drops, blood spray, as the deer ran by. Good. Still impossible to follow blood apart from passing the boulder, I continued on the path the deer ran, and extrapolated further up into the timber from which I supposed she came. And not far, found her, expired.
The arrow had passed through her, as aimed, slicing organs, veins, and arteries, and she had bled to death in the short few seconds it took her to run a total of perhaps seventy-five yards.
Very dead, I left her lay, returned to the deer stand, loaded another bolt, and hunted the few tiny more minutes of legal hunting.
It wasn’t faith in faith that worked, but faith in the works, the correct works.
And I thank God for His generosity and my success.
(I knew the title would catch your attention.)
Another advantage of Alabama’s long deer hunting season, and generous limit, is that you can try `different things’. I have been contemplating, lately, of a full-frontal (direct frontal) shot on a deer, with my crossbow. It is not the preferred shot. (A broadside shot with arrow passing through both lungs is the best.) But, if I can get the bolt (arrow) between the shoulder muscles, it seems it would go directly into vitals.
The advantage to being retired is that I don’t have to rush home on a morning hunt. But sitting in a deer blind, or tree stand, is boring. In a blind I make the best of it, having a `Quiet Time’, often texting friends or family, and sometimes reading. This morning I was in the blind. I decided to stick it out `till 8 O-clock. About time to go, a glimpse of a deer up on the ridge. A minute later, another deer, headed down the ridge, not necessarily my way, but I kept attention, as it seems they have been, the last several years, coming down the ridge and then turning down toward the blind. Then a third deer appeared from the right, apparently not with, or at least split off, from the other two. A little buck. Forty-five yards out, coming right into the kill zone. I managed to get the crossbow into position without being notice, and followed the deer, waiting for him to stop, and give me a shot.
He didn’t (stop).
But he did turn my way … heading right toward me. Safety off, I followed the deer in my scope, `changing pins’ as he got closer. I would like a broadside shot, but it may not happen. In fact, the situation could decompose altogether. Ughhh. Forty-five yards, forty, thirty five. I had a good sight picture, full-frontal, at thirty-five … and let the bolt go.
The lighted arrow (bolt) disappeared into the deer and as the same instant, the `whack’ (sound) of impact returned to me. The deer turned around and ran to the left, crashing around in the brush, and then … no motion. Silence. I texted Linda: “I just shot a deer.” She texted back: “Woo-hoo.” I texted: “Gonna wait tiny bit before I look … case another comes looking.” “Haven’t looked yet, but I think it’s a good kill …”
I waited. No other deer came looking. The `signs’ were good: the disappearance of the lighted arrow, the whack of impact, the crashing through the brush, then nothing, and no deer seemed to come out the other side of the brush. After a while I went to look. The deer hadn’t made it more than about ten yards. The entrance wound, yeah, directly in the front chest of the deer, was huge … looked like a small cannon ball hit the deer. An inch or so inside I could see the lighted nock at the base of the arrow. The arrow was completely inside the deer.
Dressing out the deer back at the shop out I found the arrow, which was broken. It’s amazing to me how deer can break carbon arrows. The mechanical broadhead nearly sliced the heart in half, as well as slicing lung and liver. But it didn’t stop there, and continued into the stomach(s), and beyond. A mess.
Yes, a frontal shot will get the vitals, but it will keep going, and get other stuff as well.