Saturday, November 4, 2017

First Day of Whitetail Deer Season

The first day of rifle season for deer and elk is always fraught with worry.  This year, we knew I'd have to harvest my deer first because I had drawn an antlerless whitetail tag and my husband didn't.  We went to a place we've been successful in the past.  So, we decided to try out the new blind and hopefully get our first deer for the season harvested.

Deer Blinds Are Not All Sunshine and Roses

We've hunted from one farmer's blind during game damage season last year, so we figured we understood the principles.  We did, but only marginally.  We set up our mobile blind in the spot that afforded us the best view of the areas where we knew the deer would come out.  On the plus side, it kept us out of the wind. On the negative side, you have severe blind spots because if you had all the windows open on the blind, it would be no better than standing in the middle of the field and waving your arms.  We thought the deer would just ignore the blind.  Wrong.  The deer, despite being habituated to human stuff being left in the area all the time, were very suspicious and preferred to keep a fence line between the blind and themselves.  Add to this the uncomfortable sitting position that you must stay in for hours.  It's less than optimal.

Ambush Hunting Versus Pack Hunting

There are two types of hunting in my book: like a wolf pack or like a cat.  Both are effective, but my husband and I prefer the wolf pack version for various reasons.  With the wolf pack method, you do what a wolf does.  You cover a lot of territory where the animals are.  When you use the cat-like ambush, you go where you believe the animals will come along and just wait.  Both are very effective ways to hunt, as any wolf or mountain lion would attest to, if they could.  So, what we were out of our element.  We had to sit and let our prey come to us.

Finally, Deer!

As usual, when you're waiting for deer, they just materialize out of nowhere, as though Scotty beamed them in.  This time it was a small herd: a doe and her two yearling does.  We waited for them to cross the barbed wire fence that separated the field we sat in from the back forty, but they were having none of it.  Eventually, we decided I should just shoot whichever deer provided the best target.  This time, I did everything right.  I had a firm cheek weld to my rifle, thanks to my husband's modifications to the stock.  I held steady.  I pressed the shot.  The gun went boom.  And...



Hunting Goes Surreal...

"Miss."  My husband whispered, adding to my profound disbelief.

The deer just stood there.  I reloaded.  Same drill.  I held steady.  I pressed the shot.


I said a few choice words under my breath, and I started shaking. The deer I was shooting at moved to a less than optimal presentation, so I reset my aim on her sister who presented a good broadside target.  My husband whispered to shoot again.  Now, I had absolutely no faith in what I was doing.  I shot.  This time, a definite hit and she fell where she stood.

I was still shaking when we got out of the blind.  The other deer hadn't moved much since their relative went down, but on seeing us, they barked and ran off.  I went to the doe and saw that my shaking had moved the rifle to her neck, rather than the shoulder I had aimed at, and had dropped her with a spine shot.  It was a quick death, even if it wasn't quite where I had intended.

Thanking Your Prey

I thanked her for giving herself to me and apologized for taking her so young, but I had to eat.  We field dressed her after I tagged her, and brought her home.  I feel it is important to thank the animals that we hunt.  This is an animal that gave its life so that we could eat.

It made for a successful, if strange hunt.  My husband was quick to point out that the stainless barrel was clean when I shot it.  Every time I've been shooting successfully, it has been dirty, which may suggest that this rifle prefers having a dirty barrel over a clean one.   Mass-produced stainless barrels can have burs and other imperfections which affect accuracy.  A few rounds through them smooths those imperfections over with a copper coating from the bullet jackets, and the gun groups tighter.  I'm pretty sure that I did everything right on the first two shots, so I'll accept that suggestion for the time being.

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