Opening Day of Deer Season
Saturday morning, opening day of deer season, and we were not up and out before dawn. We weren’t sitting in tree stands or ground blinds or in the bushes in hopes of shooting ten point, 250 pound bucks. When reality isn’t productive it’s best to stay in bed, comfy cozy, and go out later on. I have a tip for new deer hunters to share, one that’s done well for me, and two more equally important.We prefer to walk than sit in a tree stand. When we do sit during a walk we find a stump or dry piece of ground in the brush. I love a long, slow walk up a hardwood ridge, stepping off road (I was crossing when I took this, on my way to a big stream) and into the brush, a few steps and look around, a few more steps and another look around. At the top, I found a pile of gravel left when the road was built many years ago, hidden behind brush, and sat. With the sun directly behind me and a 12″ wide gray birch to lean against, deer would have a hard time seeing me. I surely didn’t see them but wished several times I’d brought my shotgun rather than rifle as the partridge were abundant.
Seeing little sign of deer, only a single fawn track, I came back the road. I walked the same pattern on the road as through the woods, a few steps and looked around, when I walked the road. The road is littered with downed trees that are convenient to sit behind. Or, if you happen to be a deer, stand behind and watch the camo’ed hunter walk down the road toward you. I looked back from the trees, a long sweep up the side of the road.
Tip for New Deer Hunters
Steve taught me to look for body parts, not the whole deer. It works. It takes practice but it works. Behind a downed tree, the softly rounded tip of a left ear stood out from the sharp lines of the dead tree’s branches. Left ear, right ear, no antlers, her nose, straight down to the white patch of her throat, motionless. I raised my rifle and looked through the scope to be sure there weren’t antlers. The sun, behind her instead of me, shone on me. She’d seen me before I saw her.
A second tip for new deer hunters, take every opportunity you’re given to learn something new. You might not learn anything at all but it’s still worth the time. Right ankle crossed over left, I lowered myself to the brown grass along the side of the road. My scope was dialed all the way out so I tightened it up and took another look at her, this time seeing more detail. A young doe, she is probably a two year old. We were a hundred yards apart, too close for her comfort. She turned to my right, flagged (white tail up) and took a found bounds out of sight. I didn’t learn anything but I was happy with myself for spotting the ear one hundred yards away.
We live in a beautiful place and enjoy the scenery. This tiny stream runs down the side of the ridge. Click on the pic!
The afternoon hunt was different. I walked through the a meandering trail through woods to a few wild apple trees, a place I enjoy sitting. Great Horned and Barred owls called off and on for a few hours while Chickadees “dee-dee-dee’d” along with the “yank yank yank” of a single red breasted nuthatch. It was quiet and peaceful, and I could hear everything around me. Sitting back in the edge of the woods, nestled into six foot tall pine trees and a few hardwood shrubs, I waited. The wind blew to me, exactly what I needed for what I wanted to happen.
He would walk down a short trail between two clearings. I’d see him there on my left and have plenty of time to take the safety off and bring my rifle up. He’d walk into the clearing and stop to inspect the ground under the old apple tree. When he lifted his head he’d step forward with his right front leg and I’d pull the trigger. It was a good plan.
Instead, she walked into the clearing, ate an apple, lifted her head and stepped forward with her right front leg. Taking the opportunity to learn more, to practice, to improve (I’ve shot only one deer), I had her in the crosshair. Safety on, finger away from the trigger, the big doe was in no danger. We can’t hunt does here. I watched her for 15-20 minutes. She sensed something was amiss, looked directly at me several times, and was distracted by something to my left. Whatever it was she heard or smelled was lost to me other than it probably distracted her enough to be less concerned with whatever it was hiding in the bushes.
Bang Squeak Bang Squeak
Bang Squeek squeak squeek oh my gawd get new springs. The truck backed into a turn around and shut down. Bang bang, the doors closed. “Do you know where you are?” Laughing. Talking. Laughing. Swearing. Silence while peeing. Laughing. Careful guys, you never know when there’s a woman hiding in the bushes close enough to see you if she chose to stand. Steve dropped me off so they didn’t see a vehicle to tip them off to my presence. Bang bang, the doors closed again. Squeak squeak bang squeak, it drove away. If the doe cared, she showed no signs. The noises that are new to us are their familiar surroundings. They’re used to vehicles, voices, chainsaws and ATV’s in the distance. Watch your energy. Are you tensing up at the intrusion and moving without realizing? Another tip for new deer hunters – become familiar with what’s familiar to the deer. Spend time outside simply listening to what’s going on around you…and the game you hunt.
She left on her own, the way I wanted it to happen, unconcerned by the noise, no longer curious about that thing hiding in the bushes. I didn’t want to scare her. And that was that, opening day of rifle season.