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Shot my first deer in 11 years on Christmas Eve

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by HOOfan_1, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. HOOfan_1

    HOOfan_1 Well-Known Member

    I keep my check tags and my last one was January 6, 2001. This was my fourth overall, third buck, second with a rifle, but the first with a scoped rifle. The last one I killed was a doe at 60-70 yards with a Winchester 94, .30-30 and iron sights.

    As you can tell, I am not a prolific deer hunter, and my job(s) for the past 10 years have prevented me from hunting as much as I would have liked. I was laid off last year and got out into the field way more, but barely saw any deer, and had no decent shots on those I did see. I killed my latest deer after only 4 ventures into the field this year.

    I killed the one on Christmas Eve with my Remington 700 BDL .30-06 which I inherited from my Grandfather. As far as I know, this is the first deer it has killed. Localities which allow rifle hunting in my area of Virginia are not plentiful, but I have always preferred hunting with a rifle over buckshot.

    Being Christmas Eve, we didn't get out into the field until around 1:30. My dad was planning on going down into the woods, but the farm on which we were hunting was empty (sign up sheet with 15 person limit) and there was a huge series of fields which I have had my eye on for a while. These were corn fields full of loose corn on the ground. The hunt actually had an inauspicious start. I have three of the old style green and yellow Remington card board ammo boxes. Two of them contain the 150 gr. Sierra Game King reloads for which my rifle is zeroed. The other is a partial box of 150gr. Core-Lockt factory ammo I had used before developing the reload. I had grabbed the wrong box, it was the factory ammo. I knew it would impact at 100 yards only about an inch or so from the SGK loads so loaded up anyway.

    The cornfields I was hunting are in Piedmont Virginia, bluffs over the James River, so they are very undulating, and it is hard to pick a spot with a good view of ALL likely places for deer to appear; so many ridges will block your view. I picked a spot about 500 yards from where we parked the truck, not at the top of a ridge, but down a ways. It gave me the best view of the most likely places and kept me from being silhouetted by the sky. I'd never set up here before, and I like to explore my surroundings before setting up, so I walked around the area for about 10 minutes first (I am sure this puts my scent everywhere). When I sat down, I looked at my watch and it was about 1:54. Whatever hunting I am doing, I use a ~1.5 foot dove stool, keeps my butt off the ground and makes it easier to survey the area around me. Where I set up was in a shortish, dry grassy area. I decided right away any shots over 100 yards or so, I was going prone on the ground. I don't have shooting sticks, or use a bipod when deer hunting, and I have never liked slings, so I am stuck shooting completely off hand.

    So after I sit down, I go into my normal hunting routine, scanning the area around me back and forth and letting my mind wander (I hunt as much or more for being out in the woods and fields and doing this as I do for actually getting game). Suddenly some movement catches my eye part way up the next ridge over. In my peripheral vision it looks almost odd. I can tell it is large, but it almost didn't look like it was moving like a deer. It was trotting out into the field. Not a full out run, nor the bounding spring that they do, but a quick trot. It is almost hard to remember exactly what I saw as the excitement clouded my mind. I think it might have even had its head down to the ground as it trotted out (I've been told the rut has been over for a while in Virginia). It was coming from some thick woods into a stretch of field that was about 25 yards from the wood line to a dirt field access road. It was angling away from me. I didn't even notice any antlers, but both sexes were in season. Probably about 3 seconds after I had seen it I dropped to the ground on my chest in the grass. By now I seen he had stopped close to the edge of the road. I put my scope on him, and see he is slightly turned away from me, and looking the opposite direction, but still basically broad side. My 3-9x scope was down on 6x, and I could see I needed to crank it up, so I crank it up to 9x. By now I see antlers on his head, but from this distance and at that angle they didn't look significant, I was thinking maybe a fork horn. This is public land with no herd management, and heavily run with dogs. Next year it will likely be closed to hunting all together as it is becoming a State Park/recreation area. I had no concern over antler size.

    Oddly I didn't get what I would usually characterize as "buck fever". I think I got a bit of tunnel vision, but I didn't get the violent shakes I sometimes get with "buck fever". I've gotten buck fever even when squirrel hunting. If I have been sitting there all day and have heard or seen nothing and all of a sudden I hear rustling in the leaves for about 5 minutes, as I think the squirrel is coming into range my legs will start shaking. I've gotten it when calling up turkeys too. I think how quickly things were progressing in this situation prevented that from happening.

    Even with my tunnel vision I could see he was only partially up the ridge, and there was a good backdrop of plowed dirt behind him. I was also conscious enough to determine he was well over 100 yards away and I would need to hold over. (My gun is zeroed for 100 yards) I don't have a range finder, and seriously have not memorized ballistics charts for my ammo. I thought he might be around 279-300 yards away so I aimed above his shoulder. My intended actual bullet placement was the heart/lung area just above where his front legs meet his body. I squeezed the trigger and I didn't feel the recoil at all and the sound of the shot barely registered. Here is where the tunnel vision breaks my recollection; I can't remember if I chambered another round first or looked down to see what the deer was doing first. Regardless, I eventually worked another round in and eventually got my scope back on him to see that he was still standing still as a statue in the spot I had first fired upon him. This time he was looking in my direction. I think this is where lying prone helped me again. He must not have noticed me. I put my scope back on him. This time instead of putting my crosshair above his shoulder, I aim right for the hump of his shoulder. Squeeze the trigger again. Again I am not sure if I worked another round to the chamber first or looked down to the deer first, but I did work another round in.

    When I did look down with my naked eye, the deer had bolted across the road, away from the woods from which it had come and into the field across the road, which was much bigger. That field is probably 250-300 yards from the road to the other woods across it. By this time I am sure I missed him and he was spooked. Even with my naked eye I could now see he was more than just a fork horn. He was running flat out, but I got my scope on him again anyway. After about 4 seconds of flat our sprint, I saw through my scope he was starting to falter. By now I knew I must have got him and decided to try to finish him off. He was still running about as fast as a human could run, but he was faltering with every step, I tried to lead him and aim above him. This time there was even more of a hill behind him so I knew my shot was backed up. I squeezed off another round. Although I didn't find but one hole in his right side, so I am sure I only hit him with my second shot and not this third. Still his back legs fell out from under him after that last shot. He went down hard, and might have thrashed around for another 10 seconds, but from the shot that hit him, to when I am sure he was dead couldn't have been longer than a minute or two. I paced out his distance traveled after the shot and it was around 60-70 yards.

    I started to look around for my ejected cases, by then I had worked the fourth round into the chamber. All three of them were sitting neatly next to one another as if arranged that way on purpose. Then I called up my dad on his cell phone and told him to bring the truck around and that I was going to slowly move toward the deer which I could still see laying in the field. Every 20 or 30 yards walking over to him I would throw up my scope and look for movement. He never moved, so I got to him and saw he was dead, and his blood was bubbling with signs of a lung shot. In the 10 minutes it took my dad to fetch the truck, I paced out the distance 3 times. From where I hit him, to my stand, it was 250-260 paces. Considering the terrain dipped down between my stand and his location, and considering my stride is a little over 3 feet, I am confident it was 250 yards +/- 20 yards.

    His right side was too me when I shot. When I got to him, he was laying on his right side and I saw blood on his left side, so the bullet had obviously gone all the way through. The bullet holes were more or less in the same spot on both sides.

    He was heavy when we lifted him into the truck, it took both of us. He was easily in the 130-165lb. range.

    Here is a google bird's eye view of the field.


    Some pictures of the deer




    In this picture you can see the streak of blood just above where his right front leg meets his body. Of course this is where the bullet hole was. I would think this would have gotten both heart and lungs. I know the lungs were turned to hamburger when I pulled them out. I didn’t inspect the heart, but I know it came out more or less whole. Drop from where I placed my cross hair to where the bullet struck is about 6-7 inches

  2. wankerjake

    wankerjake Well-Known Member

    Nice work!
  3. countertop

    countertop Well-Known Member

    Nice deer!

    And congrats on the first in a decade.
  4. homers

    homers Well-Known Member

    Fine writeup, loved the overhead map of the farm. Could have smiled :)
  5. jbkebert

    jbkebert Well-Known Member

    Hey nice buck man. Great tall tines and rack. Heck of a good Christmas present.
  6. heeler

    heeler Well-Known Member

    Good for you!!
    Patience pays off big time when you hunt at full attention to your surroundings.
    Hint to those who absolutely cant hunt without their latest greatest Buck Rogers electronic gizmos.
  7. HOOfan_1

    HOOfan_1 Well-Known Member

    Oh yeah he was full of ticks too...if you look hard at the base of his right ear on that last picture, that black spot is a huge engorged tick. Found several others crawling over his antlers later...and I found one stuck to me just the other day. Can't imagine I actually picked it up from the environment in winter. We have had plenty of sub freezing temperatures. Can't imagine they can survive if they are not on an animal.
  8. PonyKiller

    PonyKiller Well-Known Member

    nice buck! very cool that you could take your grandfather's rifle out, and bring that home for christmas!
  9. heeler

    heeler Well-Known Member

    Hoofan...About the ticks.
    They are fine as long as they are nestled up and attached to the deer.
    But as soon as the deers system shuts down within minutes they start letting go and look for a new host.
    I have seen this countless times here with Texas deer and have had a number cling onto me while handling a deer over the years.
  10. Liberty1776

    Liberty1776 Well-Known Member

    Nicely done - both the hunt and the write-up. Thanks!
  11. Miata Mike

    Miata Mike Well-Known Member

    Very nice racked deer for it's body size! I wish I could see a few like that. ;-) Good to hear that Grandpas rifle scored. I have been trying to shoot 5 deer with my Fathers "last" box of 12 gauge slugs, but have only got two so far. ;-)

    This years was only a half rack, but a better deer than he ever seemed to shoot. I visited his grave that day and we shared the moment. ;)
  12. HOOfan_1

    HOOfan_1 Well-Known Member

    I shot a 4x4 eight pointer when I was 14 that had a 15 inch spread...but it probably weighed 30-40 pounds less than this one. My dad has an 11 pointer on the wall with a 14 inch spread that he said was also smaller. Both of them were shot in Tidewater. I have done most of my hunting in the Piedmont, but my dad hunted with a club for years in Tidewater and says the deer out there seemed to be smaller...although the racks were still normal size.
  13. ShortFatHokie

    ShortFatHokie Well-Known Member

    Nice buck, Hoofan!!!

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