Happy New Year

I didn’t intend to take this long to write another post, but things get in the way. Since I graduated from my Masters degree in May I have been getting used to my new employment situation. I am now working at a gallery in a temp position that doesn’t employ me all the time, and doing some freelance writing. The freelance writing is a new thing and I will admit I never expected to be in a position where I got paid for my writing, but I am and I’m enjoying it quite a lot. It is the perfect other job for my gallery work as it doesn’t conflict and it also keeps my brain turning when it might otherwise fall into disrepair.

On to the shooting:

In November I went hunting for the second time since I arrived in the USA, and prior to the season opener I managed to try out two variations of my new load (45gr AA2520 in a Lake City LR case with a Hornady 165gr BTSP @2.800 OAL). One involved the same load but in a Winchester case, and the second was with a 2.850 OAL. Neither appeared to make a significant difference so I decided to leave it as it was.

I learned a few lessons this year (always nice), but unfortunately I didn’t get a shot at a deer. There was a deer I could have taken a shot at, but elected not to. More about that later.

The weather was pretty warm, a lot warmer than last year, which was both a good and a bad thing. It was good because I wasn’t freezing sitting in the stand, but it was bad because accepted wisdom has it that deer move around more in cold weather. The hunting season being what it is though I have no flexibility to wait for colder weather, so I decided to just accept it and enjoy feeling my toes.

Jason the night before opening day.

Jason the night before opening day.

I had been hoping to make it up to the property before the season started to scout and pick a place to hunt from, but it never happened and I arrived at the cabin the night before the first day without having seen the place in daylight. That night it was just myself with Amber and Jason, and it was fun to hang out, but I think I drank too much. The next morning when I left the cabin at 6am I was feeling a little hungover, and without having seen the land it took me longer to find a spot than I wanted, and it wasn’t till after the sun came up that I was settled in and hunting. I had initially wanted to hunt from the ground and set out with that intention, but after I had found a spot and sat down and the light started to come up, I realised that my view was almost completely blocked by brush. I soon realised that I wouldn’t get a clear shot unless a deer wandered within 20 yards of me, so I reluctantly got up and made my way to an open stand.

DSCN2108

Early morning view from the stand.

I didn’t see anything that morning, but Amber shot her first deer not long after the sun came up. It was a clean shot at a young buck from around 70 yards. That evening I went to a stand further onto the property, and right around last light I saw a deer. When I spotted it it was on the edge of a dense patch of trees about 60 yards away and walking away from me. I could have made the shot, but after a moments thought I elected not to. In the failing light and at the awkward angle the deer presented I decided the chances of a bad shot were too great. Even a well shot deer will run, and a badly shot deer will run a lot further. I didn’t want to risk wounding the deer and losing it in the woods.

I didn’t see anything the next morning, and Amber had to leave at lunch time, so on the Sunday evening it was just me and Jason. Once again I didn’t see anything, and as the light started to fail I stopped looking. I was quite tired and looking forward to getting home, and I didn’t want to delay that by chasing a deer around. I was just getting ready to pack up and leave the stand when I heard a couple of gunshots from the other end of the property, where Jason was hunting. Then I got a text “I need your help”.

Jason had taken a shot at a deer in the failing light and it had run. There was a scant blood trail which we followed for a while before it disappeared. It took a couple of hours but we eventually came across the deer by searching in the direction that it appeared to be heading based on the last blood we found. All’s well that ends well.

I hadn’t planned to hunt the second weekend as Neither Amber or Jason could make it, but at the last minute I changed my mind and decided to hunt. It was just me with Amber’s uncle Rick and his friend Larry. They were very entertaining and I had a good time. I did see a couple of deer the second weekend, although I couldn’t get a shot. I was sitting quietly in a stand when they appeared out of some trees to my left, one was a doe that I didn’t have a tag for, and I couldn’t get a good look at the second one to see if it was a buck. Then they disappeared walking away from me, and that was the last I saw.

Another beautiful day.

Another beautiful day.

 

I elected not to hunt the last weekend, and although Amber and Jason did neither of them saw anything. So that was that-but like I said at the beginning, I did learn a couple of lessons. First: I need to scout the property. I felt almost blind because I had no idea where the deer paths were. I was sitting in stands and guessing which way to face, and in the case of the deer I saw the first weekend I’m pretty sure it came from behind me. If I had had a chance to look for deer tracks ahead of time, I might have been facing the right way and seen it as it passed. The second lesson I learnt was: Sit Still. Up till now I have spent quite a lot of my time in the stand looking through my binoculars and panning back and forth, but I think I underestimated how good deer are at spotting movement. In future I will sit still and use my binoculars less. Patience is a virtue. The third lesson I took away with me was: Don’t reheat a frozen dinner in a pyrex dish on the stove top! The dish will probably explode and leave you eating food seasoned with glass. I still tasted good though.

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2 comments on “Happy New Year

  1. Niall Macdonald says:

    Good to see you are back in writing mode and are gainfully employed. This is a very different form of shooting from Scottish stalking and sounds a lot more boring. At least the experience is increasing. You are right about deer seeing movement rather than picking out figures. I was hill walking wearing a camouflage jacket when I saw some deer not too far off. They saw me at about the same time but I sat down quietly to watch them. It soon became apparent that they know I was there but they could not see me and as a result became more and more unsettled until they all moved off directly away from me. They were upwind at the time. From a stand it is probably only worth while to watch and shoot in an upwind arc as the deer will scent you from a very long way off. Good Luck next time.

    Regards,

    Niall

    • A says:

      Hi Niall, I had been thinking about the wind situation, and did try to point myself into wind, but my hunting paranoia makes me imagine deer walking behind me. As you might expect the woods are full of squirrels doing amazing deer impressions, which takes a while to get used to. It definitely is a bit boring, but also kind of good. Forcing myself to sit down, be quiet, and watch the world turn for half a day feels strangely liberating, a kind of enforced zen. I find myself hoping a deer doesn’t come along on the first day since I want the experience to last a bit longer than that, but by the second weekend that feeling is usually long gone.

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