Monday, December 31, 2012

Not an Ordinary Hunt

Under ordinary circumstances, I would have never pulled the trigger on this little nine point.  In fact, I had let him pass 50 yards from my deer stand earlier that morning.  But the circumstances changed and became anything but ordinary.

For the first time in over ten years, I got the chance to go hunting with my dad on our family's ranch outside of Freer, TX.  I had already killed a spike-buck this season and put meat in the freezer.  I was hoping to get a shot at something much larger while spending some time with my dad.  In fact, we had seen a pretty nice eight point with about a fifteen or sixteen inch spread, and I hoped to see him while sitting in my stand.

The morning started in ordinary fashion.  My dad and I woke early and headed to the ranch.  My mom, my wife, my kids, my sister, brother-in-law, and their kids were soon to follow for a bit of time together exploring the ranch and hunting arrow heads. 

Dad and I got to the ranch, put out corn, and proceeded to head to our respective hunting spots.  I chose a stand near the ranch house, and dad would sit in the pick-up about 1000 yards away in sight of my blind.  I had been sitting for about five minutes when the above deer walked out and ate some corn.  He moved down the road toward me, crossed into the brush, and eventually came into the clearing in front of me only 50 yards away.

At that distance, I'm a dead shot.  I could have put this guy in the freezer right there, but I thought he was too small.  I thought he'd need another year to go--even though my folks like to cull such white horned bucks.  I let him pass.  It was an ordinary hunt.  I didn't need the meat.

Well, things changed.  After sitting for about an hour and a half, the deer finished their morning browse and disappeared.  I called my dad on the walkie-talkie and asked if he was seeing deer.

His response, "The pickup is dead."

Me, "What?"

Dad, "The battery is dead, and the pick up won't start.  I've called Scott, and they are going to pick up a battery on the way out."

I thought for a moment and decided I'd head up to at least sit with my dad and visit until the family arrived approximately two and half hours later.

"I'm walking to you, but I'm going to go the long way.  We've seen a lot of deer on this sendero, and I don't want to leave scent."

"O.K.," dad responded.

I walked to the pick up, and we fiddled around for a few moments.  We tried to start the truck a couple of times to no avail. 

Then dad said, "Why don't you walk up the back fence and take your gun."  The day before, we drove along this fence and saw at least 10 buck scrapes along it.

I started walking.

Now, this is not my sort of hunting.  I don't have the coordination of my dad or my grandfathers.  They were/are really good shots.  I'm not quite there.  Neither am I a good woodsman.  Usually, I step on a stick or rub up against the brush and scare whatever game is around.  I pale in comparison to my dad when it comes to hunting.  He's good.  Really good.

In fact, when I was a kid, I'd get majorly jealous of him.  It seemed like he couldn't miss, and oftentimes, he'd get down out of his deer stand, sneak up on a buck or doe, and get meat for the freezer in a seemingly effortless fashion.  I was jealous of his stories of stalking deer and getting close enough to pull off a shot without a rest of any sort.  I wanted to be able to tell such a story, but I'd never even come close to pulling it off.

Under ordinary circumstances, such a thing probably wouldn't happen. 

But the circumstances were not ordinary.

  • Hunting with my father for the first time in 10 years.
  • A broken down truck with nothing else to do.
  • The rest of the family arriving later for the first time I'd been at the ranch with my sister, brother-in-law and his kids.
  • Dad letting me stalk the game instead of him.

I walked down the road, hugging the brush.  At about 150 yards from the truck, I hear something scamper off in the brush.  I think, "Well, there goes my chance to see or get anything."  I turned around and headed back toward the truck.

But then I thought, "Well, I might have made him curious.  He might come back out and see what disturbed him."

I moved once again up the road staying in the brush and peeking out to see if anything was ahead of me.  After a few moments, I saw something moving up ahead.  I moved into the brush where I could see.  I raised my gun and looked through the scope.  It was a deer moving toward me along the fence.

I dropped to a knee and waited, and I thought to myself, "I will not be able to hold my gun steady this way.  I'd better try something different."  But, there was no tree readily available for me to use as a rest.  The deer that was moving would surely spot me, snort, and ruin any hunting for the rest of the day.

I laid down in a prone position in the road.  I rested my gun and waited.  As the deer approached, I saw it was a buck--not a big one, but a buck none-the-less.  I looked up and sited a tree about 35 yards away.  "That's the point," I thought to myself.

I continued to wait.  The deer kept moving straight ahead.  I'm convinced he would have walked right down upon me if I would have let him.  I was down wind from him so he couldn't smell me.  He was intent upon checking his scrapes, and I wasn't moving.

He got to the spot I had picked. 

I made a clicking sound.

He stopped and looked.

I targeted him in the scope.  Should I or shouldn't I?

Under ordinary circumstances, no way.

But these weren't ordinary circumstances.

I clicked off the safety and bagged my first deer, outside of a deer stand, with no rest, shooting in a prone position, and now, I've got a story to tell that ranks right alongside many of my dad's stories--although, I've still got a long way to go before I get as good as him.

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