We got up at 4:45 AM. Too early. And considering when we set up the deer stands it was 11AM and deer were just wandering around us like we weren't there. I thought that was a civilized time to hunt. AFTER breakfast... Especially if the local deer oblige by wandering around then.
But no. O'Dark Thirty. My Buddy the Gun Enthusiast has to be somewhere at 10.
All my hunting has been done at MBtGE's Sister's farm. 24 acres with an adjoining national park. You can't hunt the park so there is a huge population of deer that can spill over.
They are farmers and have pretty much switched to Nursery work, so any deer we kill is fewer deer to eat their baby trees. But this year was different. This year, MBtGE's brother in law wanted to maybe let the local buck get a season bigger. So the hammer came down. Don't shoot anything with antlers.
Dangit! But, oh well. I figured I didn't want to peeve the landowner and sour him on me hunting there. And if a buck showed up it would be nice to have him in my sights AND let him go.
So I settle in in the dark. Camp chair. It's still spitting rain from Hurricane Ida, but not enough to need a poncho. The temperature is 48ish and was forecasted to go up as the sky cleared that day. I wasn't going to freeze this day, at least, though my feet for soaked from the sloppy ground. I wore noise canceling earphones for several reasons. One; they kept my ears warm. Two; if I made a shot they would protect my hearing. Three; they magnify quiet noises, so I could hear the woods in all its glory. (Squirrels sound like bull elephants approaching.) The wind is coming from behind me and 2 the right, so no deer will approach me, probably, from my front-left. Fine. I am left handed and I want front-right shots.
And I wait. And it gets light. And I hear opening day booms all around. Must have been 5 guys that got their deer that day at all points on the compass.
Around 7 I see something at the skyline on the ridge through the trees at my 2 o'clock. 200 yards away. And it's getting closer. It's easy to pick our a deer against the sky. I was thinking doe from the shape, but I wasn't sure. No way I'd shoot with buckshot until I could make sure about antlers anyway. ESPECIALLY with it silhouetted against the sky. I don't want shot heading out over the ridge to who knows where. I'd wait until there was ground behind it. The deer stopped at my 3 o'clock behind a clump of brush and a big tree. And it stayed there. Browsing. 75 yards? If it had been completely clear I might have taken a shot, but not with the no-antler restriction and not in the underbrush. After 15 minutes it ran off. Its tail wasn't up it just decided it had to go somewhere at half speed, behind me, and out of sight.
I waited some more.
Another 15 minutes and it is back. Or a deer about the same size, in the same browsing place. The head glimpses I get show no horns, I think. Then the deer starts making it's way toward me. Directly toward me, straight on. The shotgun is shouldered and the safety is off. At 40 yards or so the deer stops and looks me in the eye. Simultaneously 2 mammals have a similar thought. The deer thinks, "Is that a human?" And I think, "Is that an antler?" And both our suspicions are correct. The deer runs off, but not in a panic. And I settle in again. To wait.
This session was my 5th time hunting and that was the first deer I could see, walking around. I could have shot and killed it, but straight on is not my preference. Besides, I would have gotten in trouble for violating the land owner's rules. Fine. It had been a great day out, even with nothing to show for it. It was turning into a very pretty morning. And 3 squirrels were having a hell of a nice time near me and they kept me occupied.
Then, after a few, a surprise. Here comes a deer. It's at my 1 o'clock and very close. When I see it it's 40 yards away and crossing in front of me, and closing range, slowly. It doesn't see me. DAMN it seems small. Much smaller than the not THAT big 1 antler buck I just had a moment with. I'm thinking of letting it pass it is so small and cute. It seems chihuahua size to me. Po' widdle ting. But no. The land owner makes it clear that other than horned bucks, ALL other deer are toast, and we are directed to shoot on sight. It's it's brown, it's down. Kill the varmints! And this one certainly had no horn I can see. It's a doe or a yearling buck.
And I shoot it. I don't even feel bad about once I made the decision to go. Tufts of fur fly, and it drops where it stands. A coupla kicks and it is still. It's a little after 8 AM, and the deer was closer than 25 yards.
That's my first deer.
And it was a yearling buck. Myabe 40 pounds soaking wet. I wasn't gonna get cross-threaded with my host for this because it was so young.
I get on the radio to summon MBtGE to get the golf cart to haul this little thing out of here. But, first... Field dressing.
I make 2 mistakes. I nick the stomach a tiny bit on the incision. No problem, it wasn't too bad and I quickly got the offending portion out and away. Then I REALLY messed up. I am cutting away the diaphragm and make a nasty slice on my right thumb. It's bad enough that that hand is done for the day. I didn't think it would stop bleeding, and I was right. Luckily, MBtGE was there to help me. He got the little bit there was left to do on the gut pile and we got out of there in time to get home, and the thing quartered and in a cooler, for MBtGE to make his 10AM appointment. He went there. I went to the Urgent Care facility. No waiting when you leak! 3 stitches and an antibiotic script later, and I back home in time a nap, then I get to watch MBtGE finish the butchering into 3 types... Back straps, roasts, and stew/chili meat. My freezer is full.
If you want to see some of the field dress photos, go here. They are a bit gory, so fair warning.
A good day, all and all. Even with the cut. Damn, my skinning knife is SHARP. Stupid, that.
And I got my first deer. Even if it is tiny.
I shot it with a Remington Model 11, 12 gauge, and 00 buckshot. I have the shell casing, mainly because the shotgun didn't cycle, which is a whole new and different problem...
[update: When I went to the Urgent Care Place, the nurse said, "You didn't shoot yourself in the leg with a .357 did you? Because my father shot himself in the leg with his .357 hunting last week." How do you compete with THAT? Jeez!]
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