My Deer Season (Extremely Long)


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gdcpony
January 2, 2014, 10:45 PM
I decided I would post up how my hunting season went.

First day of NC's bow season. I am posted on a farm with my oldest daughter (MaKala) 40yds from me. I put her in the better spot hoping she could score and not keep bumming out about being skunked last year. At last light the deer went to me instead. I took aim on a nice doe and sent one flying. I thought the arrow hit a little back, so I waited a bit longer than usual to get down. When I checked the shot sight, I found only a bit of- for lack of a better word- mucus. After checking the deer's path of travel a bit, I decided to let her lay overnight (bad idea I now know). The next morning I went out and found her after about 3 hours only 50yds from where the shot was in a thicket. The shot had been true and stuck in the far shoulder. Unfortunately, the 'yotes found her first during the night. I didn't even pull the arrow it was so bad.

The rest of bow season went horribly. I figure the man upstairs must have been punishing me for the doe as I saw not one thing aside from skunks (kinda ironic huh?). I hunted on Camp Lejeune, on the farm, and even some public land.

Then came muzzle loader time and I had never tried it. So my younger daughter (MacKenzie) borrow her sister's 50cal and I grab one my friend had given me last X-mas to try. Well, Kenzie has the devil's luck. Five minutes before last light out steps a doe at 40yds and she sends a 250gr pill right through it! Her first time ever with a smoke pole and she gets one! It might be entertaining to mention that she had only hunted deer once before during youth gun season in OH and in four hours had a doe down then too! Now if only I could get her to shoot her bow more. I, of course, shot nothing.

Lucky little girl as happy as can be!
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Rifle season here is long as heck! It was freezer fill time and I was focused on that (we don't eat beef in my house so the freezer must get filled) and getting Kala a deer. I couldn't get her one, but a spike fell (I thought it was a doe) at 400yds to my DPMS LR-308. Nothing, but good quiet time other than that.

I thought he was a she!
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On base my H&R Ultra 20ga came through in a way and let me down once too. I took a doe one evening at 137yds just to have a buck come sniffing after her as she lay dead. At 85yds I cracked one loose at him and he simply turned and walked back towards the thicket he came from. So I let another one loose. I got down to find him and found both impacts with blood everywhere. Good trail too for about 50yds! Then nothing, then blood again, then nothing again. Four guys and Kala all helped me try and track this deer. I went back four days looking for any sign. Others went out too as it was a good deer someone had trail picks of. Nothing! I have lost deer before that I found later and couldn't eat, and one that was still around the next season and I knew was ok, but NEVER lost a deer I had no idea about! Never! I won't lie I cried about it. Later I did win the "Smallest Deer Award" for a fawn doe as I was challenged by a friend to "shoot at first light," but that is small recompense for losing any deer and especially a nice buck.

Thank God for Ohio though! I went back for their gun season and decided to bring my bow as we would be back the whole weekend prior as well. Here I was home. Here I was in the snow, 20* weather, and loving every shiver! First evening I went out a smallish deer (average if it were in NC) steps out and I send her a gift straight from Magnus. Thirty yard blood trail and nice tender meat. Next morning I was back out again. These deer came from the opposite direction I expected, and I was glad for the wind change I had just curse a few minutes before. I waited for the biggest doe to offer a shot and this time it was a SlickTrick she ran off with stuck half way out her far shoulder (my aim point generally causes that on allot of shots now). She ran out of the woods onto a steep hill in my old neighbor's yard. I came out to find her half way down the hill to the road for me. I heard something up in the treeline as I took a pic of the slide to find her kids staring at her. I yelled at them that I was sorry it their mom, but they might want to leave. One listened.

Half the drag is done already!
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My favorite kill of the season!
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The next day I was driving with my in-laws as that is how they hunt. The deer were there, but no shots were offered. I like driving for this short time, but don't think I could make it a main stay of my hunting. It is a good sociable way to hunt with a group from the family and see success. I used to hate it, and think of it as "cheating." Now, I know why they do it. The jibes and pats on the back, the memories of past hunts being shared, and the passing of a tradition are as- if not more- important than deer on the ground.

That evening though, my oldest and I went out together our way. When seven deer came from my side I thought they were going to turn without offering her a shot. Just as I was about to squeeze on the biggest doe Kala whispers "Some are coming out!" as the first of the group had turned to offer both of us easy shots. I whispered back to her to take the larger of the first two out (the rest had stopped) and I would take the little one. We shot as one and hers dropped with a spine hit from her granddad's 20ga. Mine stood there staring after its mom. So I shoot again, and nothing. Me and my daughter shoot one last time and the little deer bolts away. My daughter confessed later that she was laughing too hard at my frustration to shoot and her shot was over it. As we walked down to her doe, she called to me (who was lost in thoughts of how I could have missed three times) that my deer was laying off to our right. Later we found all three of my slug holes right where I put them, but only one had expanded as it hit the shoulder blade. Gave me a clue towards that lost buck.

She was just told she has to gut her deer!
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Sorry for the pic. Our double kills!
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The next day was driving again. I took my pistol on some and the smokepole on others. The pistol was simply out ranged. The smoke pole decided to have "deer fear" I pointed it at standing deer and squeezed the trigger a total of 11 times. I was swapping caps and trying again like it was war, but to no avail. the caps weren't firing. But the two times I tested it on a tree it went off just fine! I almost wrapped the thing around one. I later found the issue and fixed it, but I won't trust it again now. My father-in-law did down an 8 point that I had clicked at a couple times so the deer didn't all spend the rest of the day laughing.

I'm glad he got it! It probably died laughing at me!
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I went out with the bow again the next two days, and to my surprise I found myself not wanting to shoot. I simply sat there and watched. The freezer was full, the bow had killed, and I was just relaxing and taking in the scenery. I found myself wanting to just stay and taking a shot would mean ending the hunt. No thanks, I'll stay.

Why can't the Marines station me here? I have the perfect office right here!
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A new coat of snow beckoned me (as well as begging from my in-laws) to go out again with the family on the last day I could hunt. I drove a deer right in front of a stander and watched that shot. For some reason, there was a bit of satisfaction in aiding them to get their deer too. I wish I could explain it, but it was there. The last drive they asked me to sit a new place. It was high up on a hill over looking a ravine and the deer would escape up it and get around them. They needed a long shooting gun and I had the longest of them (the "Sniper Shotgun" they called it). I could see the entire drive from my vantage point so it was the best spot I ever sat. Well, 4 deer went right down into the ravine and stopped at a tree I had ranged at 260yds. I snuck a peak at my range card on the stock, took aim on a doe, and let one rip. She bolted and I was sure I missed. However, the shot sent the rest right at my daughter who emptied her shotgun without a single hit. Not even two minutes later I was wishing for a video camera as more deer busted straight at her. She had deer to her right, left, in front, and behind. I think it was like 14 of them. Shots rang out and I was certain she would be dragging two away. No luck. She had loaded different slugs, and cursed (I laughed all the harder at her attempts at that too) them "going high over every deer except the last, and that one I shot under." Sure enough I found all the impacts in the snow and not one was a hit. She earned the nickname "MissFit" (yep, spelled correctly) for missing and throwing a fit after. I found mine as well with the impact slightly to the left of my call on a frontal shot. The new record for that gun 258yds!

My new record; 258yds with a shotgun!
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Note the range card I keep on the stock just like my rifles. It really helped here.

A few days ago a friend, Wess, called me up and asked me to go out with him to an area of the base he knows well from work. I figured since he had no deer to show for the year, I would just to give him a good reason to go. So we see another truck as we pull up and enter the area cautiously so as not to ruin their hunt. He went to a spot that while working he always sees deer while I went to another spot about 150yds away. As I did I got a glimpse of one of the other hunters and backed off from him as well giving him about the same distance and clear hunting of the clearing he was obviously hunting in (bad idea for him as these deer tend to stay out of those until dark).

So as I sat, I fell asleep not really caring if I shot a deer or not. I had already seen three heading in the direction of the clearing the other hunter was in so I let them go. When I woke up it was to the sound of a doe stepping on a branch 40yds from me. I made the decision to watch and see what she did and let her go if she was headed toward any one else, but she walked right to me. She and I locked eyes a couple after she made a couple more steps and her tail went up. So I squeezed the trigger and sent a slug through her ribs. I watched her dart off and heard her crash a few seconds later. Then I settled back in as the shot had sent yet more deer to the guy behind me and I figured to hear him shoot soon after. He never did.

Ten minutes later the doe's fawn came in and I would have let her go except she walked as if injured. So I figured to put her down too. After I shot she ran a short ways and started licking the wound I had just given her. There was something so... sad about watching a mortally wounded animal casually lick a wound that was gushing. She was obviously not feeling much pain, but I couldn't take it so I quietly reloaded and shot again. This time she dropped, but I still felt a remorse I am not used to (no, I am not going anti, it was just uncomfortable to watch).

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The guy in the clearing started getting down to "chew the @$$ of the squirrel hunter ruining his hunt," so I got down too. I let him know I had deer down and he was then appeased and helped with the tracking of the first doe. I apologized to him for the number of shots and let him know deer had run by him as well. He said only bucks matter to him, but he was glad I got a couple freezer fillers.

About then a shot rang from Wess's direction sounding about where he was. I was thinking we would have a three deer night, but alas no one knows who that shot came from even Wess. Wess ended the night helping me drag, cursing my luck, bemoaning what he must be doing wrong (nothing that I can tell). He had actually sent me a text telling me to stop killing all the deer in the woods as three of the four times we have hunted together, I brought home deer.

As we left the base game warden checked us out and saw the deer. He was very pleasant and nice about it. He even offered to help drag, but we had it. I like the base wardens as they are extremely helpful. If you make a small error, they are understanding, and yet they aggressively pursue those violators that actually break the rules just to get their deer. I hope to spend some time next month on their big complaint of predators.

The night ended with me teaching one of my Marines who wants to hunt how to quarter them up and discussing why I got a deer and Wess didn't. This time it was all luck of the draw. The next day Wess got his deer too, a nice fat doe for his freezer.

I just can't wait to call in some song dogs! Getting my first "double" with someone, and having it be my daughter was awesome, easily the best part of the season. Seeing my other daughter score was right below that. Losing the buck was the worst, and finding the doe mangled was right a low point too. The time sitting in the stand with bow was- wish I could explain why the bow and not the guns- the most relaxing time I get in my entire year.

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