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Old December 9, 2005, 07:23 PM   #1
the possum
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Join Date: November 6, 2004
Location: Southern Illinois
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Deer season '05 report (long)

Had a good time this year during our first two gun seasons. Muzzle loader season is still this weekend, but I’ve got enough meat that I’m not too worried about it.

First season was 3 weekends ago now. The first morning, I sat in one of our woods north of Spook Bridge. After it got light, I noticed there was another hunter only 80 yards away from me just across the neighbor’s property line. That afternoon I sat in a different stand, and the neighbor shot a nice 8 point buck that was across the line on our property, only 20 yards from where I had been sitting. Dad was sitting in another stand across the creek a short ways, and witnessed the whole thing. He was pretty mad about it, especially when the kid wanted to borrow our 4 wheeler to get the deer out.

My brother had left the house about 10 minutes before me, and when I headed out, I found him still standing along side the road. “Why aren’t you in the stand already?” I asked. “Dude, I been sitting in the truck for the past 10 minutes,” he said, as he held out his shaking hand. “What, are you cold or somethin’?” Turns out that just as he got out of the truck, a deer came up right behind him and snorted. He shined his flashlight around in time to scare the deer as it was charging him! The deer stayed back about 5 yards, and shook its head & pawed the ground. My brother decided it would be wise to get back in the truck and wait a while, since his guns were cased in the bed yet.

It just so happens my Uncle John was walking in to his stand on the other side of the field at this same time. After this deer startled my brother, it ran across the field and went after uncle John! He said he shined his flashlight on it just as it was running toward him, and he fired a shotgun slug at it from the hip and missed. He says he was more concerned about scaring it away than hitting it. Just after he got into the stand, a couple does came up the hill, so he leveled on one and pulled the trigger. *Click.* He forgot to shuck out the empty! So he cycled the pump, fired, and watched the does trot over the hill untouched. Then a small button buck came by, so he fired 3 times, missing. Reloaded, fired 3 more times. Reloaded, and finally knocked it down on the seventh shot. So he climbed down, and the thing was still alive. Not wanting to waste yet another round, he pulled out his cheapo pocketknife that came free with his duck decoys, and stabbed it in the neck. “BLAAAAAAHHH!” He tried again, and again the deer bellowed. “Blaaaaaahhh!!” (My uncle John would stick out his tongue & cross his eyes as he related this portion of the story.) On the third attempt, the knife broke, so he took a step back and shot it again anyway.

Now, I want to go on record here saying I am in no way condoning my uncle’s actions above. I would much rather see a clean kill with responsible, accurate shots. But, my uncle has a way of telling stories to where ya can’t help but laugh.

This year about a month before season, my brother decided he wanted to try hunting with a handgun after hearing me talk about it, so his wife got him a Ruger Super Blackhawk hunter model in .44 mag as an early Christmas present. He topped it with a variable power scope, which made it awkward in balance, but really helped tame the recoil. Shooting offhand was not much more than a popgun, especially compared to my .454. He was getting 50 yard groups in the 1 ½” range, and even took out a stray tomcat that happened to walk in front of his target while sighting it in.

After getting shaken up in the dark, he had a couple does come by within about 35 yards or so, and got ready with his .44. Then a small buck came up behind them, so he focused his attention on the buck instead. But the buck had other plans, and went around a different direction than expected. My brother ended up shooting one handed, turned around backwards, as the deer was running 40 yards behind him. One shot through the neck dropped it on the spot. Then next day he got a doe, also running, and made a perfect shot through the shoulder area, but he shot several more times not knowing that it was gonna die anyhow. I told him he was lucky that they didn’t end up getting away wounded, taking those kinds of shots, but he’s always been lucky in that regard it seems.

Toward evening that first day, I was sitting inside the edge of the woods near a slough, and had 4 does walk in about 40 yards from me. Though I have no trouble hitting paper targets at 60 yards, I wasn’t comfortable shooting my pistol at live targets at that range. So I watched them milling around for a while, never getting any closer. They walked out onto the field again, and now I just enjoyed watching them since the pressure was off. It was one of those magical moments in the woods. The sky was a beautiful mix of pink and purple, the deer were grazing, and then a group of about 20 geese circled once, talked amongst themselves, locked wings, and splashed down in the slough. The light was fading fast, and I hoped I wouldn’t spook the deer too bad when I walked out. But then, one doe decided to come back into the woods, and walked within 10 yards of my stand. I was waiting with my pistol, and tried to make the decision on whether to shoot or not. If I made a bad shot, I’d be tracking her in the dark, but she was standing sooo close… I took the shot, and immediately thumbed back the hammer for a followup, expecting her to run off. But instead she was knocked straight back on her butt, then fell over sideways and kicked a bit. The bullet had entered the top of her left shoulder, and exited low on the right side, taking out the heart in between. I was surprised that she hadn’t run –we don’t usually get that kind of stopping effect from 12 gauge slugs. I was using 335 grain wide nose hard casts over 31 grains of W296, by the way. The bullet went at least a foot deep in the ground after going through the deer.

The next morning, I blew it bigtime. I slept in late, and it was already light out by the time I was walking to the stand. I was only a short end from my stand, when I jumped up a nice buck just across the creek. He stood there for a moment, but all I could see through the brush were antlers- I didn’t have a shot. He took off heading north, and just a moment later I heard a shot. “Awwww Hell.” Caught up with the neighbor a bit later, and it was a nice 8 pointer, with about a 20” spread, 200 pounds. I would’ve had a 50 yard shot at him (with a very accurate slug gun) from my stand if I’d got up on time.

The next day, my little sister came down from college in Chicago to hunt, and her boyfriend sat in a stand nearby with a camera. She got a little buck, and the two of them decided to carry it all the way through the woods, to the edge of the far field. Then they got the truck stuck in the field. I suppose we should have told them to wait until we could go in with the 4 wheeler, but I’m sure they’ll remember next time. : ) Her boyfriend is from Boston, and while his family knew she hunted, she wasn’t sure what they’d think about actually seeing a picture of her standing next to a bloody deer, with a bandoleer of slugs across her chest. I’m sure there will be nothing to worry about, since they already know what a great person she is.

The last afternoon I was gonna hunt another stand, and my wife wanted to come along. We came around a bend in the creek, and there was a small bobcat about 70 yards away in the field. “Bobcat!”, I said in a harsh whisper, as I got down. I motioned over my shoulder that my wife should quickly take a picture with our digital camera. I looked back, and she was still standing. “Get down!” Not that it really made any difference, I guess. She snapped a shot just as it was running back to the treeline. It’s pretty small, but still neat. We sat in the stand for a little over an hour, and several does came by and browsed out in the field in front of us. We just watched since I’d already gotten a doe for meat, I was in no rush. I think she really enjoyed the experience, and talking about going hunting next year herself.
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Old December 9, 2005, 07:25 PM   #2
the possum
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(had to break this up into two posts since it was so long)

Second season was this past weekend, and I had to work the first day. (Thursday) Friday morning I sat for a couple hours without seeing a thing except squirrels, and I was back that evening with about the same results. I did have a possum that decided to come too close just as I was climbing down though. He didn’t make it, I’m afraid. He succumbed to an acute and particularly virulent case of bowie-knife-through-the-skull-syndrome.

I don’t even remember what happened Saturday morning. I guess nothing eventful. Did a bit of walking mid day, and my uncle slipped on a mud embankment, and slid about 20 feet, head first, on his back. He sowed up the truck seat with mud… I sat in the same stand that evening though, and a small buck came out behind me, at maybe 25 or 30 yards. Actually, he had a decent sized body even though he only had a basket 6 point rack. I figured I may as well cull him, but he was moving around too much for me to really settle in with a pistol shot, so I just used the shotgun instead. The slug went right where I put the crosshairs, and the buck took off through the brush at the shot. I caught a flash of brown through the two power scope, but never had a second chance. I waited a while and got down to start tracking him, and followed the blood trail as the light faded. After the first hundred yards, I was beginning to get concerned. Had I pulled the shot somehow? After another 30 yards of tracking, I wondered if a twig had sent the slug off course. But then I found him, laying about 150 yards from the spot where he was hit. I didn’t hit the heart as I’d prefer; misjudged the angle a bit, but still took out the lungs and arteries above the heart.

The next day, since no one had been seeing much, several of us got together to walk through some woods to see if anything came out. Since I already had my meat, (actually, I still have a muzzle loader tag) my dad, uncle, and cousin all waited near the old pasture, while I walked through “The Thicket”. (a well deserved name.) I was going slow and fairly quiet to give me a chance at a shot; there’s certainly no guarantee any deer would run towards the other guys. A couple does came out right away, but nobody fired. Next we went down into some of our bottoms along the river, where a major tributary joins it. This branch of the creek forms a great big loop on our property before meeting the river, so dad & my cousin waited on the west end of the loop, while my uncle and I walked in from the east. The creek is big enough that the deer would really rather not cross it, but of course they still have 40 acres of deep timber between they could escape through. We flushed up a doe or two early in the walk, and as we were in the home stretch there was a shot ahead of us. I wondered whether it was my dad or cousin. Dad had let umpteen deer walk right under his stand, waiting for a nice buck. But my cousin planned to shoot whatever presented itself. A moment later there was a second shot. That worried me a bit. We saw some more does head west around the bend, and then saw blaze orange ahead. My dad motioned that a buck had run near my position somewhere, and when I looked in the direction he was pointing, I saw a brown lump. I looked at it through the scope to see if it needed another round, but it was not moving. I thought he said it was a buck…. All I see is a bunch of tree limbs…. He head must be hidden behind that big tree…. Turns out those tree limbs were horns! I was a nice 9 point; not a huge spread, but lots of mass, and good sized body. One shot went straight through both shoulders, taking out the lungs and grazing the heart, while the other was a bit low in the sternum. The deer had run within about 70 yards of dad, when it stopped for just a second in a clearing, and he shot. He shot again as it ran, and he said it dropped over just after the second shot. This lead him to believe it was the second shot that went through the shoulders, but I figure he was more likely to make the better shot while it was standing still, and just took a bit to succumb.

After all the congratulations and excited talking, came the question. “Well, how we gonna get him outta here?” We had trudged over a half mile through muddy fields and timber just to get down there. There were some field roads and trails that got closer on the neighbor’s property though. Dad and my cousin went up to ask the neighbor to borrow his 4-wheeler, while I set about gutting it in case we had to drag it that far. Turns out the neighbor was duck hunting just a short distance away, and he came down with his pickup & took us all back up to the old farm place. It was a frightening ride though- three of us rode on the back with the deer, and I was completely airborne more than once, and narrowly ducked a few hanging limbs too. That guy is a real character.

I was really happy to see my dad get a deer. He has gone 3 years without, since he’s content to let the does & little bucks walk by. Just seeing that spark of excitement in his eyes… man. Hope it’s this good when I take my kids hunting some day.
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Old December 9, 2005, 09:08 PM   #3
FrontSight
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Cooool
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Old December 10, 2005, 12:00 AM   #4
mdhunter
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Join Date: February 4, 2005
Location: Maryland
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Great Story....

and awesome buck for your Dad, thanks for sharing!

I'm heading out in the morning for last day of Maryland rifle season, have already got a buck with my bow but nothing in rifle season yet - mayeb the 6 inches of snow will bring luck, it will be magical to be in the woods after the first snowfall either way....

Michael
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Old December 10, 2005, 08:40 AM   #5
Rich Lucibella
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Great report and a great dear. You're not kidding those horns are thick!
Rich
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Old December 11, 2005, 11:50 AM   #6
BIGR
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Nice buck. Sounds like a great season to me. I have had one of the best seasons in a while. The first two weeks I saw a different buck everyday. Can't believe that I saw more bucks than big does. Finally shot a non typical 11 point during rifle week that made the hunt worth while. I wanted to go back this week but it didn't happen. I have one more hunt coming up the end of the month and then deer season 2005 will be a memory for me. So sad....
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Old December 11, 2005, 05:33 PM   #7
Foxman
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Nice buck and great account of the hunting, Iwould give plenty for a picture of your brothers face when the buck faced him down! it would be classic. it is nice too that your dad got the good buck after letting the small stuff pass.
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Old December 12, 2005, 10:28 AM   #8
the possum
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Join Date: November 6, 2004
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Thanks for all the compliments, guys. Just hope ya enjoyed sharing in the tale.

Muzzle loader season ended yesterday, and I came home without taking a shot, but I've still got the memories. My wife joined me in the stand yesterday morning, and a bobcat trotted by within 25 yards of us. It just walked around the bend of the creek on top of the frozen ice. Dad later hypothesized that it might have been funny to watch if I'd shot the ice out from beneath its feet. Given the stiff penalties for killing a bobcat though, I don't think I'd take the chance.

Quote:
I would give plenty for a picture of your brothers face when the buck faced him down!
Heck, I would've given plenty to have been in his shoes! I've been waiting for the perfect chance to get a deer with a bowie knife, but sneakin' up on 'em is hard! Two years ago my brother was in a similar situation when he was hunting in some of our bottom timber. High water had forced all the deer out of the bottoms, and they were fighting for dominance or whatever on the (slightly) higher ground. He shot a nice buck after watching it fight for a while, and when he went down to tag it, its former adversary now wanted to challenge my brother.
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