View Full Version : A little snow is nice but this was ridiculous

November 16, 2000, 06:21 PM
Sat. the 11th was the opener of the NE deer firearm season. I get to camp about 3 on Fri. and it is fairly nice out, so after unloading my gear I go for a drive. In about an hour and a half I spot 15 deer, including 2 whitetail bucks, a 3x that ran right in front of me, and a much bigger at least 5x that was about 250 yds out. The snow started Fri. night and kept up through most of Sunday. During the day on Sat. at times the snow was falling so heavy that visibility was reduced to about 100 yds. This was on a very calm day, unusual in NE. On Sunday, after about a foot of snow had fallen, the wind kicked up to about 25+ (a typical NE snowstorm) and helped redeposit what had already fallen along with what was still falling into 4' drifts. The wind continued to blow the snow around even after it quit, and kept up for a couple more days, effectively shutting down most of northern NE and a good chunk of So. Dak.

Sat.: no luck for any of our group of 7. Heard lots of shots, and saw deer moving, usually just dark shapes way out there.
Sun.: went out early, before the rest of the group, and before the drifting had really started, wind about 20 mph, windchill about -20 I tried to make my way back to a good low ridge between 2 canyons that the deer like to cross. They move up one to an alfalfa field and bed in the cedars and oaks in the bottom of the other in bad weather. Made it about a mile and a half off the road pushing snow with the front bumper of my '74 Scout almost all of the way. Truck starts to sputter, I figure its time to get the **** out of there and head back to the road. Truck dies after 1/4 mile. After I scoop the snow out of the engine compartment enough to clear out the air breather and wipe out the distributor (soaked by the steam of the snow melting off the block and exhaust manifold), I get it going and make it another 1/2 mile farther. Repeat the process. What I hadn't got wiped out had frozen when I pulled the cap, and after the engine heat melted it again, it caused the truck to die again. Get back to the road, and am still about a mile from camp when she dies again. A buddy finally tows it the rest of the way back where it sits until the wind goes down enough that I could get the dist.cap completely dried on late Mon.
One of the guys shoots a nice 4x4 whitetail shortly before noon.
Went out with another guy in his truck for the afternoon, wind had kicked up more, visibility generally less than 100 yds. for a good part of the day.
We bury a Blazer trying to go down a trail to get back to a Suburban that we had parked on a trail. 2 of us had taken the Sub and gone in on one side of the canyon and hunted across and down to meet up with 2 others. We saw a lot of muley does (illegal to shoot in this unit) but no bucks. We met up with the other guys and we tried to take the Blazer in on the same trail but ended up stuck. All of the tracks were completly drifted over, and within about 15 minutes our tracks from the Blazer were gone too. We manage to get the Blazer shoveled out, and the Sub was no problem.

Mon.: The first guys to leave camp are just going out to see if it is possible to get back to the highway, and if we can get into any of our spots. They make it, and come back a while later with a nice whitetail doe. We go out and find a couple of places that we can get to that we think the deer will be holed up in. We decide to push a shelterbelt (tree windbreak). This is a big old overgrown shelterbelt comprised mostly of cedars, ash, and cottonwoods, with a good amount of wild plum along the sides, about 50 yds wide and a 1/4 mile long. It is so thick that you can't see more than a few feet into it, and the only way to go through it is to bend over and follow the deer trails. We send one of the guys that had their deer down the middle of it while 4 of us wait at the other end. I am standing on the southeast corner, about 200 yds out I see 4 doe bust out right to left across a 50 yd wide clearing to another smaller bunch of trees to the south. One of my buddies is standing on the other side of that, about 100 yds south of me. When the does bust through the trees in front of him, I see him raise his rifle and he fires 2 shots. I'm thinkin he decided to take a doe when he hollers that there is a buck comin back through. The buck was in the smaller bunch of trees, and popped out, but is now goin the opposite way all the does are, left to right, because they were headed straight across his field of fire. I spot the buck and have time to get off one shot as he crosses the clearing flat out movin about 90 yds out. I took my shot as he was about in the middle of the clearing, swinging through him and squeezing it off just as the crosshairs get about even with his nose. I worked my bolt as fast as I could but couldn't get back on him before he got to the trees. He hadn't slowed down or showed any sign of being hit. As I started running toward his tracks, I'm hollerin at the other guy on the north east corner that a buck is comin through. Then as I near the tracks, I see the 4 ft by 4 ft fan sprays of bright red blood on the white snow at every bound and holler that he is hit hard. I followed the trail into the trees and he is piled up about 25 yds into them. After I drag him out of this thick stuff that you could barely crawl through on a good day (with about a foot and a half of snow crawling was not an option) the other guys finally get there to critique my shot placement and field-dressing skills. When I pulled the heart out of the chest cavity, it was literally blown in half by my handloaded 140 gr. Nosler BT. Only one strip about 1 1/2" wide held the two larger pieces together, and he had still run at least 50 yds without showing he was hit till he fell. He was a good 4x4 whitetail buck, 2 1/2 years old, field dressed he weighed about 140lbs.
That ended my hunt but I stuck around till late Wed. trying to help the other guys that hadn't connected. Tuesday, one of the guys and I sat on a ridge overlooking a small marsh surrounded by cedars in the bend of a canyon, and spotted a buck sneaking through the trees kind of following the same route that a doe had gone down about a half hour earlier. We grunted a few times, he replied, and then started to thrash a tree. We couldn't see him, and Rod grunted again, more thrashing. Rod started to work over the cedar he was standing behind, and all of a sudden this little forkhorn whitetail comes charging out of the trees straight at him. When it sees him about 20 yds away it hit the skids so hard it darn near rolled and just about jumped out of its' skin tryin to turn around and get out of there. We decided that this grunt call must really sound like a little weeny deer if this forky was going to come in and kick his a$$.
Anyway, we did see a bunch of deer on Tue. and Wed. including some big muley bucks, and a couple of really nice 5 or 6 point whitetails, unfortunately the only guy that got a decent chance to connect missed. Saw a couple of bobcats, a few yotes (none within range), and heard some more tales of the big cat in the area, including paw prints in one of the neighboring ranchers driveway into a pasture. Lots of prairie chickens - easily seen in the snow covered fields, a couple of coveys of quail, and a bunch of turkeys. The Canadas were really comin over so the guys down on the Platte should be bustin em up this weekend.
Had a good time with a bunch of good friends. Rod's parting shot at me was "You know Jeff, not to say anything against your success the last few years, but you maybe ought to bring more than one cartridge next year."

Sorry this got so long.

Al Thompson
November 16, 2000, 06:48 PM
Great story! Thanks!


November 16, 2000, 09:06 PM
Thanks for sharing. I wish I lived near there. hmmm let's tally this shall we? You saw deer everyday. Saw Alot of bucks, and a few nice ones. Saw a *few* coyotes and bobcats. Cougar in the area...hmmm. Makes me thing I'm hunting the wrong area. about your deer, I love it when that happens. You start thinking "ok, deer was right in my scope. crosshairs over the vitals...gun fires...deer leaves unscathed...HOW"D I MISS." And then you're rewarded with a very dead animal :D. I wish there was more than one species of deer up here. In Idaho and WA there was both. Idaho had Muleys and Whitetails. And Washington Has Muleys White and Blacktails (just the last two where I lived by the Sound though.) It's be great to live in an area where all three lived, and you could shoot anykind.

November 16, 2000, 09:34 PM
I forgot to mention that last year it was 85 degrees. We were hunting in jeans and t-shirts and making trips back to town for ice to keep the deer (no not beer) ;) cold.