Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Great Outdoor Weekend - Day 1

A couple months ago I was invited to hunt on some land my friend, Pastor Buck, has access to. Pastor Buck was my wife's pastor when she lived in Martinsville, VA. He pastors Christ's Church in Martinsville. It is a great church. If you are ever in Martisville on Sunday and are looking for a good church to attend, I highly recommend Christ's Church.

Our plan was to hunt all day Saturday and Monday. On Sunday I would fly fish on the Smith River before and after church. Buck told me that he always saw deer on the piece of property we were going to hunt on. So, I was fairly sure this would be one of my best chances of killing a deer of the season. My in laws live in Martinsville, so I did not have to get a hotel. This was going to be a great, inexpensive weekend!

After work on Friday I made the four hour trip to Martinsville. The next morning I met Buck an hour before sunrise and we took a short 20 minute ride to the land. We would be hunting on a small 36 acre, completely wooded piece of property. At first glance it did not look all that special, but after Buck explained the lay of the land and looking at some satellite photos I began to see how special this land was.

One view from my stand
Half of the property was thick, thick pines. I'm talking so thick a person could not get through them. These thick pines were at the base of three small ravines, most in the south would call them hollows. These three hollows ran into a massive oak stand and then cut grass fields. All of the deer in the area bedded in the thick pines and passed through the hollows to feed. In essence, this small property has the deer traffic of an area ten or twenty times its size, all funneled into three areas.

Buck walked me out to the best spot on the property and even suggested a tree for my to climb. It was a good choice. From that tree I could see up and down the hollow and both of its sides. Everything I could see was in range of my muzzleloader.

The action picked up fairly quickly. About an hour after sunrise two does came barreling down the hill directly at my stand. I was not expecting them to approach so quickly and was not ready. my hands were in my pockets and got tangled as I tried to jerk them out. It probably took less than a second, but felt like forever. About the time I shouldered my gun they stopped, about 30 yards from me. I assume they either saw me move, or smelt me. However, this worked to my advantage. I was able to place the cross-hairs of my Nikon scope in the kill zone of the doe in the rear. I began to squeeze the trigger when things began to get strange. The beginning of many strange things this weekend.

All of a sudden there was fur and body parts everywhere in my scope. Parts where in places they should not be. I looked up and saw a small buck mounting the doe! Apparently the does were being chased by the buck. When they stopped and spotted me it gave the buck time to mount one. I did not want to shoot one and risk wounding the other, so I let them pass. It happened so quickly I am not sure I could have made the shot anyway. From what I have been told, seeing a buck mount a doe is fairly rare. I'm glad I was able to help that young buck have a good day!

Fake deer drawn to show where it was when I shot it.
About 30 minutes later another doe walked up from the exact same direction. This one was alone and approached cautiously. It stood facing me, with its vitals hidden behind some brush for a very long time. We had a staring contest for what seemed forever. Eventually, it changed directions and started trotting parallel to my stand. It stopped in a small clearing, offering me a perfect broadside shot at 40 yards. I took it, sending a 300 grain 45 caliber bullet into its vitals.

To my surprise, it did not drop right away. Instead it ran over the hill, out of sight. I was very confident in my shot. When I got down and inspected the impact site I found good, bright pink blood, hair, what appeared to be entrance and exit wound splatter, and lung tissue.  However, there was not much blood and the trail stopped there. I was not too worried, it couldn't have run far hit in the lungs.

Apparently I was wrong. It could run far. I am still a beginner at trailing, so Buck came over to help. He had the same problem I did. No blood trail. He agreed that it was a lung hit and that it should not have run far. We search and circled for an hour, searching out to the property line. Eventually, we had no choice but to give up. We simply could not find any other sign. I went back after lunch and searched again with the same results.

This happens to every hunter eventually, but it still sucks.

Later that day Buck took a shot at a very nice buck with a wide rack. A miss. He still can't figure out how he missed. I didn't see anything for the rest of the day. We saw thee does and three bucks between the two of us. While there were some disappointing moments, it was still the most successful day of deer hunting I had had in years.

Stay tuned, day two is a comedy of fly fishing errors and something happens on day three that you will have to see to believe! (I have pictures!)

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