Last Saturday was the opening day of deer hunting season in Western New York. I wanted to share my hunting tales for anyone who might be interested.
Opening day is different than any other day. The deer are not as spooked because they haven’t heard gun shots yet, and there’s hunting pressure in the woods so you see the deer moving more than normal. Usually they bed down for most of the day.
Saturday morning I was in my ground blind by 6:30 am. It was 11F outside. There was a 5 inch layer of snow. Great conditions for hunting. The white background helps you see the deer better, they can blend in with the trees and leaves real good.
My blind is in the bottom of a ravine where two small creeks meet to form a large creek. This is a natural funnel and the ravines offer me a good vantage point.
It’s just past sun up. I hear something to my right. I see movement on the hill across from me. I see some dark tan between trees so I check through my scope. It’s not a deer. It’s a coyote. Under normal circumstances I would have shot it dead. They are nasty creatures. But a dead coyote in front of my deer blind probably would ruin my hunt. So I let him go. Several years ago I had nearly the same scenario. I let the coyote go and shot the biggest buck I’ve ever taken an hour later. I was hoping this was a good omen.
I get a text from my wife. She knows this is not the time for me to be messing with my phone so it must be important. It was. We were in the process of adopting a dog from a rescue shelter. It’s quite a long process. They do interviews, home check, and meet and greets before they agree to give you a dog. A bit excessive, but I enjoy helping adult animals that need a home. The rescue had emailed my wife and said we were approved. She would be picking up our new dog named Mojo later that day. First the good luck coyote and now some Mojo. I was feeling good about my chances.
I’m fucking freezing. So cold that in two hours I’ve mentally went from Daniel Boone to complete pussy. I almost get up to head into my cabin to warm up. But I stick it out. Good choice. About 15 minutes later I see a tiny deer head just sticking out above the creek bank. It’s walking right towards me. It’s a small doe. Not something I would shoot. It gets within 15 feet of me and stops. It sees me but can’t figure out what I am. I was going to wave at it to scare it away but suddenly it looked over it’s shoulder. I see another head coming down the creek. This one is much bigger doe. I slowly raised my gun and the smaller doe turned and ran. I expected the larger doe to follow. But instead she jumped out of the creek to the bank on her left and stood broadside to me at 30 yards for a brief second. It would be a fatal mistake. One shot through the heart. But deer are amazingly tough. She fell backwards into the frozen creek, got up and ran around the bend where the two creeks meet. I slowly walked over to the creek bank. The ice was covered in an enormous amount of blood and a steady stream went through the snow and out of sight. I knew I had a good shot in the vitals. So I went back to my blind and sat down, took out my vape pen, and got high. That’s what you’re supposed to do. Wait. Let the deer go without any pressure.
Normally I would go get my 4 wheeler to drag the deer up the hill to my cabin. But I didn’t want to ruin the other guys hunt who were with me. I slowly walked to the creek and followed the blood trail to the bend. About 20 feet past the corner I see the deer laying on it’s side. It was dead. I gutted the deer and washed up. Then I radioed my dad to to let him know I had got a doe. He met me with an ice fishing sled we use to drag deer and the two of us pulled it back to camp. That’s as successful as a harvest gets. One shot. Quick and easy. Thank you Lord.
After getting the deer hung up in a tree, I had a quick sandwich and a celebratory beer with my father-in-law and my dad, it was back on the hunt. Most often I sit in the morning and still hunt in the afternoon. Deer seem to bed down until after midday. Then they go for a graze and some water. I headed down an old logging road that goes over the creek and up a hill towards a grove of hemlocks where deer often lay. I sat on a downed log just on the edge of the hemlocks. I decided to try my deer whistle. That’s what I call my one hitter. I swear deer love weed as much as me. Many times shortly after taking a quick puff deer show up. I stoop up off the log and started to walk back toward the logging road. Four deer walked out of some scrub brush with their heads down. They were eating grass. I couldn’t believe my luck. They didn’t see, hear, or smell me. This is a very rare occurrence. I glassed over the group and found the biggest one. HUGE doe. I raised my scope and found her shoulder but she walked a few step forward. I only take a shot if I am certain it’s in a “kill zone”. I had a lung shot. Not as good as heart. But lethal just the same. I gently squeezed the trigger but I knew I rushed a bit. I hit her farther back than I intended, still a lethal shot. The doe reared up on it’s back legs, turned and ran directly at me. I could have clubbed her with the butt of my gun on the way by. Probably should have…
I saw her fall down about 100 yards away near the edge of the ravine. Perfect. I hiked back to my cabin and got my 4 wheeler. Now I had two ravines to climb to get this deer out.
Once again I radioed dad, we met at the cabin and rode out to the bottom of the first ravine. The other hill was too steep and snow covered to try driving up. We took the sled and went towards where I left the doe. I spotted her laying on her side and not moving. Looked exactly like the first deer. Still I cautiously moved in. Can you guess what happened next?
I was about 5 feet from her and shouldered my rifle. Just then she jumped to her feet and took off running like a bat outta hell! I saw her tail disappear. She ran and ran and ran. Down hill. Off my property. The neighboring property is owned by a farmer who sells firewood so his woods is filled with down trees and toppers. Piles of limbs everywhere. This doe climbed over every one of them, laid down in the middle and finally died. Approximately 1 mile from where I first shot her. I took her life. Now she would try to do the same to me. I spent the next several hours dragging her over and around an obstacle course up hill that turned a one mile walk into a three mile marathon. I must have done a half dozen face plants tripping over branches hidden by the snow. Finally I reached the edge of the ravine and could see my 4 wheeler below. I wanted to kiss that 4 wheeler. It looked sexy as hell after what I just went through. Now I only had to go down one big hill to Easy Street.
I choked up tight on the sled rope keeping it close to my side and slowly eased the sled down. It worked great. Until it didn’t. The sled caught up for a second and I gave a gentle tug on the rope. The sled broke free and clipped my legs. I fell on top of the deer and went for a ride down part of the hill. About halfway down the sled flipped and I rolled down the rest of the hill with the deer and sled. She would do everything she could to kill me. But country boys will survive.
That was one legendary day. These are memories that will last forever. My reasons for hunting are; firstly it is spending time with my 76 year old dad. He still goes hard and it pushes me. I know my time left to hunt with him is limited. So I enjoy every second I have. Secondly, I hunt because I love the Great Outdoors. Managing the deer population is important. They suffer if you don’t. Lastly, I hunt because I’m a God Damned Meat Eater! Even after paying for processing I get the best meat on the planet for under $2 a pound. I’ll call that a win.
Well, there ya go. Hopefully you read some of that. Cheers Outdoorsman!