View Full Version : So Far, Batting .500

December 1, 2002, 06:23 PM
Got back from a Michigan whitetail hunt just before Thanksgiving - saw a few doe (even had anterless tag in pocket) but nothing struck my fancy, so never popped a cap on the trip. We were trying to hunt the 2nd week of the season - moon phase all wrong and hunting pressure had everything laying up til darkthirty at night and sneaking back in to beds before light in the mornings. Last day I hunted, it started snowing and quietened the woods down where I could skulk around. Jumped a couple off their bed at about 75 yds. They split back thru the broomsticks and deep woods, so never got to determine sex or a clear shot. Had lots of fun hunting a new country and visiting with new friends met over the internet, tho. We had some real good feeds and libations, too!

Prior to that, had a fully guided hunt paid for over in New Mexico, just east of the Ariz/NM state line, near Reserve. Three of us that met on the internet ponyed up for the last deer hunt of the season - bad mistake!

The camp had been in place by the outfitter in a public camp area for all of elk and deer season on public hunting lands. All the huntable game (cows and does excluded) had been pushed far back into the wilderness areas. His method of hunting was to drive the forest roads and trails, or drop hunters off overlooking clearings to be picked up later. Understanding we 3 were all on the long side of 50 and not in perfect health, this method still rankled us. There were 3 elk hunters still in camp from Arkansas when we got there. They left the next morning emptyhanded (even having anterless tags) and anxious to get back to Arkansas.

The second day of the hunt I was dropped off overlooking a logged over strip about 800 yds long and about 150 yds wide. I was at the east end, looking west. Not too bad a spot, with a couple of drinker tanks down in the clearing about 200 yds out. Had my 6.5-06 sighted in for 300 yds, so felt comfortable with the situation and was waiting for late afternoon/evening to come.

Someone showed up about 2:30 PM with a chainsaw and proceeded to cut firewood in the woods a couple hundred yards to the south of the clearing. At 4 PM he was still at it and my blood pressure was peaking. Moved down hill to another semi-clearing about 1/2 mi to the east and staked it out while standing in a semi-dead cedar clump. Darn'd if another hunter didn't drive up the trail, saw me standing there, backed downhill, stopped and got out about 80 yds away from me and watched the same clearing! I guess I had one of the local's favorite watching spot. Ah, well.................

Trudged back up to the big clearing, still hunting along the way, and beat my "guide" back by a few minutes. The chainsaw was quiet, but you could hear firewood chunks hitting the truckbed.

When the "guide" showed up with his truck, we started loading my stuff when he said "there's deer out there!" Sure enough, it the gloom I could see 3 faint lighter colored blobs bouncing over on the left side of the clearing about 250 yds out. Binoculars confirmed they were deer, but not sex. They turned to the right and crossed the field about 275 yds out, then stopped as they neared the right side. Had the rifle out, scope cranked to 9x and was trying to grow horns. The lead deer seemed to have something sticking above the ears, then he stepped into the brush and was gone. The "guide" said the 2nd deer had horns - all I could see was something vaguely above the ears. Man, it was getting dark quick! Held for behind the shoulder and touched off. Saw a bright pinkish bloom in the scope, then near darkness. The deer skedaddled to the right into the thick brush and timber. The "guide" said they all went the same direction.

Finished tossing gear into the truck, then motored down to where we thought they crossed. Ground so hard and short grass of a tannish/red hue, we couldn't find tracks, blood or hair. Got the flashlights out, the moon was coming up giving everything a bluish-white cast and we looked and looked, circled and circled - nada. The "guide" hadn't been too observant and couldn't recall if the 2nd deer flinched, staggered or what. Said it looked to him like the deer ducked down (Hmmmmm.), then ran with the others.

Since the night temps had been dropping down into the low teens, figured a down deer wouldn't spoil (coyote bait, maybe) so we determined to come back in the early morning to look again. The next morning it was 14 degrees so we headed back to pick up the trail. No trail. No nothing. We scoured the brush and woods for sign or deer, but nothing.

Back at the truck for coffee and strategy, I happened to glance ahead about 75 yds and the same distance to the right. Under a half dead cedar was a tan rock with a streak down the middle. Told my "guide" we needed to check it out, because it looked like the rear end of a mule deer. Sure enough - my buck was laying up under the brush with head buried and rear end sticking out! He had been nailed right thru the boiler room with a 120 gr Sierra Pro Hunter FBSP with 3300 fps mv. Entrance wound pencil size, exit wound about nickle size. A bit of lung tissue was plugging the exit hole. An area about the size of a saucer under the deer had blood. A very thin trace was evident only about 7-8 yds, then disappeared entirely. I tried to track the deer back, but couldn't. While the other deer had struck out to the north, my buck had turned west, straight away from us, and had dodged thru the brush out of sight. I later figured the "guide" had come within a few yards of the deer the night of the shot, but never saw the animal. He had worked the area north of the deer path while I worked the south.

He was a nice 4x4 muley buck - not large, but just a nice representative buck with a 19 1/2" spread. Tines almost looked like those on whitetail with long (12") tines.

The other fellows never saw a buck until we were driving to my home and a 3x3 with trailing doe crossed the hiway right in front of us near the state line. Needless to say, they were pretty disappointed with the hunt.

Sorry for the length - I was reliving the hunt!

:D Also, sorry for double entry - tried to delete but was not allowed to do so. KW

December 2, 2002, 08:46 PM
I'm glad that one worked out for you. I bet you were relieved to find that deer, nothing is worse than losing one.