Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Mo's first deer

Last year Mo hunted with me.  We had a great time sitting in the double stand together mornings. On opening day I shot a deer that was originally setting up to be hers, but then bolted.  The following day Mo got a shot, but was using a Savage Camper .22LR over 20 Ga.  The gun is nice for a small game-getter, and I thought would suffice as a slug hunter at close range, but that proved to be naive optimism, as the gun sent slugs hither dither with no pattern to be found. Prior to the hunt, I got three out of four slugs into a pie plate  at 20 yards.  I thought it was good to go.  It was not.  Mo missed...just barely missed.  Gave a brisket trim --- little bit of white hair, no blood.  I watched it through the range finder.  It was 43 yards.  She was bummed.  I felt stupid, after later trying the gun at 40 yards at the range and realizing that despite the three in the plate at 20 yards, it could take me all day to get lucky enough to get one in at 40.  That gun was basically retired as a deer gun that day.

Under the tree for Christmas last year, nestled in with lingerie, perfume, chocolates and other sundries, was a new shotgun.  It was a single shot H&R 20 gauge Ultra Slug Hunter Compact, rifled barrel.  I had the barrel tapped and a nice scope mounted. I spent a few hours testing various loads at the range.  I settled on the Hornady SST sabot and dug in for a few hours of getting that gun perfect. It is a tack driver at 150, with nice clover leaf patterns consistently from a bench rest. Definitely good for a 40 yard deer. I'd actually like to shoot it myself.

So this past opening day (2012) found us back in the same stand at dawn together. The weather was uncooperative and we saw no deer.  After a cold rain, Mo was ready for hot coffee and a fire, so we packed it up around 10:30 am  ( I went back out at 11:30 and stalked a 7 point buck to < 20 yards-- that buck is in the freezer and the antlers are handles for my gun cabinet... but that's a different story).  At 2:30 Pm she was ready to go for the evening sit. We went to the double stand down by the lake, and enjoyed a nice evening.  As dusk descended  we saw deer at the end of the field near the state land, a buck and two does and two fawns.  They came 1/4 of the way towards us and I began to imagine a nice conclusion to opening day, and then suddenly they stopped, tails up.  I had been winded in this scenario in archery season, so I felt the deflation of it going wrong begin to rise in me, until I noticed that the deer were not looking in our direction, but instead were focused on the marsh.  I got the binocs up, and quickly picked out the coyote, sitting on the marsh edge, staring in the direction of the deer.  I ranged it at 143, in range for both of us.  Mo wanted nothing to do with a coyote, and  I hoped the deer would skirt around and continue coming our way.  But they spooked,and ran for the woods of the state land.  The coyote remained for quite sometime, but with fading light and the prospect of a success with deer in the morning, no shots were taken.

The next morning dawned a classic November Autumn deer hunting morning- crisp and clear.  We were in the stand in plenty of time, and our only worry was fogging glasses and scope lenses.  We sat taking in a beautiful Finger Lakes Fall morning, when I caught motion at the far end of the ridge we were hunting. A quick look through the scope confirmed an approaching doe.  I searched her back trail hard for a buck, but saw no additional movement. The deer approached to within 100 yards and I suggested that Mo get her gun up and get comfortable; the deer was ambling through without any awareness of our presence, but not stopping much. Mo was up, and I looked over to see her breathing a bit hard.  I said "check you scope."  We had practiced defogging quickly the day before, and she frowned and defogged.  The deer was moving down a draw, potentially offering a right to left quartering towards shot. I suggested Mo wait til the deer got broad side, asked her to check her scope, and she defogged again.  Then, at about 70 yards, the deer abruptly turned to its left, briefly giving Mo a left to right broadside, which evaporated quickly as the deer browsed behind trees. Mo was hyped up, even agitated, letting cusses fall about regarding uncomfortable rest, fogged scope, rest height, etc. I ranged the deer, who's head was perfectly hidden by a tree at 65 and said to Mo "find vitals and shoot when ready."

We had spent a few evenings doing vitals drills using hunting magazine photos.  I was confident that she knew the boiler room at most angles. I watched through the range finder and the shot rang out. The deer dropped low, laid back its ears and tail, and sprinted hard at the shot.  I thought it all looked good.  But then, Mo, who was hoping for an instant flop-over, was cussing up a storm.  I shared with her how heart shot deer often do what hers just did, and that it looked like a good shot. She asked how long we should wait.  I said, normally, at least 30 minutes, but after a shot like that. I'd say we can at least go look at the point of impact in 15 minutes and decide from there.  Fifteen minutes dragged on, Mo bemoaning her shot, me trying to encourage her not to write it off, that it looked good.  She was suffering from last year's miss. Finally 15 minutes had expired, and I got down to have a look.  Walked over to the tree that was hiding the deer's head, and was pleased to see major sign. This was an extremely well hit deer, by the looks of the leaves and the path out. Catastrophic blood loss at the point of impact and continuing for as far as the eye could see. I felt confident, and waved Mo down from the stand and to me.

When she arrived I pointed out the various sign, the way the hooves had churned up leaves, the serious blood splash on both sides of the prints indicating solid pass-through. As a matter of training, I had her mark the spot of impact with orange survey tape, and suggested she follow the blood trail.  She followed it head down a mere 20 yards, until she reached the deer. which was still.  It was heart shot,and moved no more.


Anonymous said...

Great Job Mo!

Great story, Keith

Mr. Bill

Path Walker said...

There'll be Mo' Deer Meat in the Tidballs' freezer -- congrats Mo! Happy butchering and good eating.

Jim Tantillo said...

Good job Mo! Now you'll want to ask Father Christmas for Heart Shots: Women Write About Hunting to put under the tree this year.

Anonymous said...

Congrats Mo. I think the next step is for you to start writing up your own hunts!


momoxie said...

thanks all and I'll be checking out the Heart Shots book (the shot placement was a very satisfying discovery!). Thank you, Keith, for being my guide and mentor. I had held strong to my line that “I’m just the cook” for the last 10+ years all the while being challenged with various birds still in feather and small fury mammals being delivered to my kitchen. And, I listened. I listened to all of your animated hunting stories, those won and those lost. I listened to the satisfaction of consuming a meal brought to the table by these stories. I knew the satisfaction of cooking a squash or perfect tomato I had grown and even the beef, pork or egg I had raised. Legitimacy. To continue to talk the talk and walk the walk, I had to pull the trigger. And I did.

Jim Tantillo said...

wow. unless Keith ghost wrote that for you, you're well on your way!! your fans crave more. Nay, deserve more.

nice writing Momoxie.

Dr. Dirt said...

Great, great story. A well-deserved and well-won first. Now you can bring home the bacon... fry it up in a can.

Vicarious said...

Fantastic, Mo, I will add my heart-felt congrats to the pile.

You have had a lot of stories to listen to, and it sounds like you've done a better-than-fair job of sorting out the good stuff from the horse-hockey!

especially nice that we have a new story to go with that stand...