Monday, January 26, 2015

Maybe Next Year!!!

                During Maine’s 2014 muzzle loading deer season, I’m sitting on a stand freezing at four degrees Fahrenheit. It had snowed two days prior and I had not seen a deer track since then. Which is typical I have found over the years. I can’t remember a time when I’ve seen deer tracks in deep snow the first two days following snow unless the deer were driven out of thick cover for some reason.
                On the third day following such a storm, I went to one of my stands about five miles from my house. An easy hunt. The area is rich in what deer need to live and survive, making it a regular producer almost every year. A good deer honey hole one could say.  
About 20 minutes prior to afternoon shooting time, I decided the cold was too much and began packing up to close the day’s hunt. It was cloudy, so it was getting dark quickly. I removed my 209 primer, put it away and reached for my scope covers hanging from the nearby branch. Something caught my eye and I looked up. You guessed, a deer was approaching at a slow, deliberate walk. It was a good one. Actually the second largest buck I have seen in many years.
(photo ID – Likely this is the same deer, in the same spot during the fall of 2013)

                What to do? The buck was on track to almost walk under my tree, 25 yards along my shooting lane. Several thoughts passed. One, if I tried to reload the primer, it was likely I could make enough sound to spook the big buck. Second thought was, so what, you can’t shoot an empty weapon. Third, if I spooked the deer I apt to poison the spot and never see him again. I had all this time to think as the deer just stopped, not even alert and then would take a few steps and continue on his way closer to me.  I decided not to attempt a quiet reload and simply enjoy the show and hope the big deer would repeat the walk in the next couple of days.
                The big bodied deer stopped, only 25 yards from me right in the middle of my shooting lane, sniffing some high branches and picking up an occasional acorn, with a crunch, crunch eating sound. It had a nice, evenly spread six point rack. Not a massive, thick rack; just a pretty one. The body was huge, likely one of the largest I’ve ever seen live in the woods. I literally had at least a four minutes or more look at this deer. What a beautiful creature! He lingered about for some time, stepping a few paces to a nearby stream for a drink and then continuing along his feeding way around my stand and behind me, never more that 40 or 50 feet away. He had no idea I was there, never raising his head for suspicious smell detection. Never in all my years hunting has a big, male deer presented such an easy shot and been so relaxed.
                I spent the next three huntable days at this stand as the area wasn’t getting much pressure. Never saw him again. Maybe next year.
                The largest buck of my life came, again after a good snow storm in mid November. For two days I had not found a deer track. I thought, maybe they went into the big cedar swamp. On the third day following the storm I headed deep into the cedar swamp. You now what I mean when I say it is a spooky place; quiet, dark and lonely. Not a track to be found, so I headed out, following my own tracks uphill in the snow. About half way out, I crossed deer tracks, crossing my tracks. Now, I had to go to work and was standing there debating on following the tracks or going to work when I looked up to see a very nice buck following the tracks, nose to ground in hot pursuit, coming straight at me with the breeze blowing straight to the deer’s nose.

                I shouldered my model 94 Winchester, drew a bead and waited. This deer was getting too close, so I pulled the trigger and he dropped. Being alone, dragging a large buck uphill wasn’t fun, but I was younger then and got the job done. The scaled weight, dressed, was 201 pounds on the eight pointer. Still remains as my largest whitetail deer.