Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Deer Hunt Day 3: Non-typical
We awoke early on the third morning with high hopes that we would at least see a deer today. We set off for a different area. Rick knew all the roads in this country and he had big plans for the day. We had only driven a few minutes down the road before we spotted an unfamiliar animal; A deer! 100 yards or so off the road was a group of deer. We stopped and got the binoculars out.
"Third deer from the right is a buck. Looks like a 3 point," Trevor said.
"There's a 4 point behind him. Kinda small though," Rick chimed in.
The group of 6 does and 2 bucks began to walk further away until they disappeared behind a hill. The 4 point was a decent deer, but not what we were after. We knew we had great potential with a hunt this time of year, so we would be picky about what we shot.
"That 4 point will be a dandy next year," I said.
We continued down the road, and a few miles later, we spotted another group of does. We stopped to check them out. This time of year, if you find does, you'll likely find a buck with them. Sure enough, on the skyline, a 2 point appeared. We got out of the rig and walked a little closer. We used our binoculars to pick apart the deer in the group and check the surrounding area for a large buck. We decided the 2 point was likely all that was there, and drove on.
Already, this day was going much better than the last two. We were seeing way more deer on our way to areas than the hiking around we had done the last couple days. We continued down the road to a nearby reservoir we thought would likely hold some deer. The road we were on was littered with puddles from the last rain storm; Some of which looked deep and ominous. The suburban bounced along, dodging rocks and car sized puddles.
"How far is that reservoir from here?" I asked Rick.
"Just over a couple more hills," Rick said pointing.
I looked in the direction he pointed and something white caught my eye.
"Stop! Deer!" I said as I fumbled for a pair of binoculars.
Near the top of a small hill, a couple hundred yards away, a group of mule deer began to materialize. The 3 of us surveyed the hill and identified what was there.
"Doe, doe, doe... I'm just seeing does so far," Trev whispered.
"Keep looking, there will be a buck with them," Rick said with confidence.
Just then, my binoculars spotted him. Silhouetted on the skyline, a set of large antlers appeared.
"Oh, big buck," I whispered, hardly controlling my excitement.
"Yep, I see him. He doesn't seem too bad," Rick said calmly.
"He's wider than his ears," I replied.
"Ryan, do you want him?" Rick asked me. "I think we'd be stupid if someone didn't go for him."
"Yep, he's just fine for me," I said as I grabbed my rifle from the case.
I got out of the vehicle, walked a little closer and took a knee. The big buck froze behind some brush, his gaze apparently on something directly behind him. I imagine he was checking on some of his does. The position he was in gave me a perfect opportunity to stare at his antlers. Looks like 4 on each side and a small brow tine on one side. I took a mental note to myself. I could try to sneak closer but some of the does would likely spook. I just stared at him until I could formulate a plan. I started to see a few does moving behind him. The big buck turned and disappeared behind the hill.
"We gotta go Ryan. Put your bipod out and lets get to the top of that hill," Trev said confidently.
We took off through the brush, swiftly and quickly. I neared the top of the hill and slowed down to catch my breath. My head was on a swivel trying to detect where the herd of deer were. I took a few steps further. Where did they go? I took another couple steps. There! One hundred or so yards away, at the base of the next sage brush covered hill, was the herd of deer. The big buck was near the back of the herd and they all were staring at me. Crap! They began the trot up the hill. Knowing how hard it would be to sneak up on this group of deer in this open country, I knew this was my shot. I ran forward towards a bush, took and knee and shouldered my rifle. I quickly found the buck in my scope and waited for the opportune time... if there would be one. The group of deer stayed tight together as they crossed the hillside. They slowed to a stop as they neared the top and looked down to check on the danger below (Me). In my sights was the buck, but a doe was directly in front of him. Dang it! Can't take the shot with her there. If they keep going, they are going to disappear again! The lead does began to take off, and so did the one in front of the buck. Just before I could center my crosshairs on his vitals, the buck continued after his does. Crap, I don't want to take a running shot! My heart was racing, but I felt steady. I followed the buck in my crosshairs as he trotted near the summit of the hill. He slowed for a second and I squeezed the trigger. BOOM! The buck stopped for a quick second and then started walking forward. I could tell I hit him but I wasn't sure if I got him exactly where I wanted to. Not wanting him to suffer, I centered my crosshairs on his vitals and squeezed the trigger again. BOOM! The big buck took a few more steps forward, began to sway and then collapsed at the summit of the hill. I took a sigh of relief and began to walk to the top of hill. Rick and Trevor caught up to me, and we slowly approached the buck. All we could see were the tops of his dark antlers sticking above the dry grass. As we neared, it was obvious he had passed. We stood there for a moment to admire him. I knelt beside him as I had my little moment with God and the deer. Then we began to take pictures.
We began to field dress and quarter the deer. Rick started capping the shoulders and head for a shoulder mount. Rick is a fine taxidermist and I'm lucky to have him around to show me how to do shoulder mounts for my animals. By 11:30, we had everything quartered and loaded into the vehicle. I was excited to see what the rest of the day would bring!
We bounced our way down to the reservoir to take a look around. We parked the suburban and Trevor and Rick went for a hike. I stayed at the vehicle and closed my eyes for a bit. Rick and Trevor returned about an hour later without seeing any deer.
We didn't see any more deer until nearly 3 pm.
"Stop! Deer!" Trevor shouted as we came around a corner. "There's a buck, 3 point. Near the top."
"And another, he's a 2 point," said Rick.
"Where's the big buck?" I questioned.
We got out of the car and crept closer to get a better look. There appeared to be about 8 does and 3 bucks in the group. With a group of deer this large, where was the big buck?
We took a few more steps forward and something caught my eye. It was much lower than the rest of the group.
"There he is, and he's BIG," I said excitedly.
Forty yards below the rest of the deer, there was a big buck bedded down. He was staring straight at us, not moving a muscle. Rick and Trevor got down and crawled a little ways closer. Rick took his time giving himself a good rest for a steady shot. I watched from a distance through my rangefinder. The deer was 100 yards away from Rick and Trevor. I watched Trevor set up the video camera. The buck continued to lay there and stare at us. I suspected that this deer was tired from the nightlife he had undoubtedly been having that previous week. I kept waiting for the shot but it didn't come. Then, I saw Trevor switch places with Rick. What's going on? I thought. I moved my rangefinder over to the buck just in time to see the shot. BOOM! The buck hardly made an attempt to stand up before he passed. I ran over to Rick and Trevor.
"Good job, Trev!" I said as I shook his hand. "What were you guys waiting for there?"
"He's got kickers out to the side, we both saw them at the same time and knew he was a shooter," Rick informed me. "I let Trevor shoot him because he has less time than I do."
"Now that's fatherly love," I commented.
"Yeah, thanks a lot dad. He's a brute!"
We walked over to the beast and stood in awe.
"What a beautiful animal!" I exclaimed.
"Look at those kickers. I bet he'll go 30 inches with those," said Rick.
"Gosh Dad, thanks so much. And we got it on film!"
"You boys just remember these things I do for you. Next time I may not be so nice!" Rick said with a half serious smile on his face.
We began to take pictures and continue to admire the buck.
After we took pictures, we decided to leave Trevor to his work. Trevor has cleaned many deer and is very self sufficient. We still had another couple hours of daylight, so Rick and I took off to make the most of the evening. We headed to a couple springs, but saw little. I suppose it was unrealistic to expect us to get 3 deer in one day. We returned to Trevor to find he had finished up with his deer. We loaded everything up and headed back to camp. What a day it had been! Now it was Rick's turn.