Weekend #2 of hunting came and went without any deer. Kevin came and hunted a little, but only saw a couple deer and didn't take anything. I passed up four does and a small buck on Saturday, and about a 150 yard shot at another trophy buck (that's a long ways to lob a 12 gauge slug!) on Sunday morning. The windy, sleety weather just wasn't very conducive to a good hunt.
Monday, on the other hand, was a beautiful day, and I had a hunch the deer would be moving after a couple icky days. After spending the late morning/early afternoon trying (unsuccessfully) to get a head start on Christmas shopping in Bemidji, I headed out to my stand at about 3:00.
En route to the stand, I made note of some fresh tracks on the main trail, and decided to slow down in case there was a deer nearby. Sure enough, just after rounding a bend in the trail, I saw a doe grazing just off the trail in some young popple trees about 200 yards ahead of me.
As I mentioned above, I still hunt with a 12 gauge - a leftover from the days when I hunted in the shotgun-only zone in western MN (a donation of a quality used or new 30-06, 30-30, .308, .303 or .270 would be happily accepted). For those who have ever had the opportunity to actually stalk a deer, with nothing but open space and a few saplings between you and the deer, can imagine that 100 yards is a LONG way to go without snapping a twig, rustling a bunch of leaves, farting, or doing anything else that would spook the deer before you can get a shot off. One thing going in my favor is that the wind was coming from the WSW, and I was approaching from the SE, so I knew it would be tough for the doe to pick up my scent.
S l o w l y I started the stalk, taking extreme care to step only on soft, bare dirt (thank goodness for the recent rain!) and avoid anything that would make much of a sound. Only once did I step on a twig that broke - that mistake resulted in about a 5 minute standoff with the doe looking directly at me, and me trying to stay PERFECTLY still. Until you have to do it, you can't imagine how hard it is to go several minutes with moving AT ALL! I was so sure she was going to hear my heart pounding, even from 125 yards away, and run off!
Finally, she put her head back down, and I got myself into position where I had the clearest shot I was likely to get, from about 100 yards. I flipped on my Tasco, put the dot just behind her shoulder, and squeezed. And hit the one sapling I was worried about, snapping it in half, and deflecting the slug (I found later that the redirected slug had just grazed the neck).
Of course, the deer took off in a dead sprint, and I'm thinking I just wasted 45 minutes of stalking! Luckily, she took a path where I had another shot, though a longer, much more difficult running shot. That one found the intended mark, and I had my second deer of the season! Amy doesn't eat much venison, so this will be enough meat to last until next November.
After field dressing it, I dragged the deer the half mile or so to my garage and strung it up. Ma and pa were kind enough to do the butcher work, so I didn't have to miss any work for it. For their trouble, I gave them some roasts and steaks, and they gave some backstrap steaks to grandpa Ferd as well. It's so nice to have family willing to help!
Only 50 more weeks til the 2008 season!