Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Deer Hunting 2016

Have started out at this gullyhead each of the last four years.  In fact this same tree last year.  Well-placed in that hunter can see downslope quite a ways, and also to the trail along the top/shoulder of the bluff.  From this location I can see the Big River.

View from powerline maybe 150-200 yards from stand.  No better way to learn about a place than to work through a deer hunt.  Just thinking through everything we've observed, discussed, studied over the past ~6-8 years; I marvel at folks who have had opportunity to hunt the same land for decades.

Approx 8:30 day one weekend one, a buck approached along that upper trail; moving left to right as I had to pivot to my left to look uphill.  He was moving slowly and carefully, checking some points along the trail as it curved through a rub gallery of small poplar.  I think he was at 25-30 yards.  Had to stare for quite a while because he was relatively small-racked.  Needed to confirm the fourth point; i.e. the brow tine.  And thus another year that amounted to an exercise in decisiveness: I usually take about twenty minutes to think things through but can't do that here; need to observe, understand and then act.  In the course of a few seconds.  So I registered an image that I took to be a brow tine.  He then moved out of that lane into some scrubby viewscape.  I put the bead where it needed to be and shot.  He indicated that he was hit, but not immediately mortally so, and he surged forward on the trail, took a hard right and started down the ravine.  I gathered myself a bit, kept the gun up and followed him into the next lane; put a shot on him while he was running downhill.  He fell and did not get up.  He grunted forth one effort to lift his front quarters but he could not complete.  Died seconds to minutes later.

Dragged long distance downhill to a meadow.  Did not gut prior to dragging out so as to keep cavity free of dirt and debris.  Dragging any distance downhill, even through unending brambles and over (or sometimes under) logs crossing ravine seems manageable.  Perhaps due to fulfillment and associated happiness that comes of harvesting the meat.  Uphill would be another matter.  Would get it done, but man would it be a lot of work.  Strategic planning should include consideration of how one will take deer from deathbed to home.  One note on the deer: the working directive from the landowner is to take legal deer that we encounter; this is not a QDM operation.  The goal is food.

Good place in the world.

Found two of these ticks.  One was clearly a deer tick; one was darker - unsure of specie.  In one case I actually felt the tick bite me; reached back and grabbed it.  Literature says ticks need be attached for at least 24 hours to pass any infectious disease.  

The tally.  Taken slowly from deer while hanging in my garage.  Used the old bike wheel rig from years past.  Although in 2015 I bought a gambrel to better spread the legs; something like $5 after deer season done.  And further on this matter, I may just splurge and buy a true hanging system; this buck (somewhat large bodied) brought the whole works down while I was cutting.  Moderately dangerous as I had knife in hand and a bunch of metal and meat and bone came down in a flurry.  Nothing came of it but going forward maybe skip the risk.  Turned out the deer pulled one of those hooks straight.
We had no meat left; had just run out weeks before.  Now we have a lot of meat.  Added a doe too; so we good for a while.  Grateful for the landowners who continue to welcome me to their hunting party; it's a highlight each year.  Also thankful for a family that guides in understanding of deer habits and hunting methods.  


Blogger Unknown said...

Great work. Best photo might be the full freezer. Noticed comments on QDM -- I too feel the urge to make that caveat (being prone to shooting small bucks and does) but it shouldn't be necessary. I would love to see big antlers but if a person is willing to risk a meatless winter and pass up a sure kill in hopes of a bigger rack, that person should examine closely and soberly the reason he or she hunts in the first place. Not to say that hunting big antlers is wrong. I don't think that necessarily. I do think we should be honest with ourselves about it.

And well-put regarding the decision making that occurs in the moments between "oh, shit," and the bang. As certainly carnivorous as I am I still reliably feel a rush of reluctance to shoot in those moments. Rather than firing solutions, my brain pulls up a list of excuses. Drag too long. Not the right deer. Fawn in attendance. Etc. Meanwhile the deer carries on. Inexplicable, really. Hard to overcome sometimes. Has cost me venison. Most deer I've killed have given me several chances.

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Ross said...

Great work Justin!

3:58 PM  
Blogger Wendy Berrell said...

Good notes. Freezer even fuller now; two deer, half one hog.

I think we share the approx position on antlers. Man, I'd love a shot a big buck. But you won't catch me passing up shots on legal deer. Food first. There's a lot to do and I can't pass up chances and spend days in the woods only to come home with no meat. I did that for long enough man. Hunting public land getting it handed to me. To be sure I COULD spend days in the woods and not shoot a deer but I can't do it; know what I mean.

And the second point: been great for me to practice decisiveness. I struggle with it. It's needed on the stand as you confirm.

9:04 PM  
Blogger Keneth Parish said...

Shame you didn't down it with the first shot, but good hunting regardless! That's a great looking landscape just to travel in, hunting out there must be even better. Although it sounds like you had an ugly time taking the deer apart it was worth it in the end for stocking your freezer.

Keneth Parish @ Lion Land Marketing

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