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Monday, November 8, 2010

Tales from the hunt, Part 1.

I went out Friday to set up because Saturday was opening day for me. Put ladders up for the blinds, put chairs in the blinds, etc. I went to set up the popup blind in another spot near where I'd seen the buck last week. The spot I picked was in the very edge of a plum thicket on ground high enough to see over the grass out to the big plum thicket. There were some weeds and a number of little plum bushes, maybe 12"-18" high, in the area. (Note: It's not really a big plum thicket any more. It was the original plum thicket on the farm. It's about 50 yards across and used to be very dense and almost impossible to get through unless you brought a bulldozer. Then, somehow a few elm trees started growing in it. Now they have just about shaded out the plums, but we still call it the big plum thicket.) I forgot my hoe and big shovel, LOL, you always forget something. I always keep a small shovel in the truck so I started to work on the plums with it, which is slow going.

After getting a couple of plums bushes out I stopped when I heard a strange sound. Sort of like "shiiiiishhhhhhh . . . thumpthump . . . whiiiishhhhhhh . . . thumpthump" repeated several times. I looked around for the source of the sound.

You guessed it. Mr. Buck was jumping over the grass on some business of his own. The grass is 5 to 6 feet high through there and he was jumping high enough to clear the grass so he could see where he was going. The swish sound was his legs and hooves brushing through the top of the grass and the thumpthump was his hooves hitting the ground when he landed.

He went by about 30 yards away from me, going towards the northwest until he hit the road we made to and around the big thicket. Road is a generous term. It is really two beaten down paths made by years of driving over it with pickups. When he hit the road he turned and followed it right to the thicket and went inside. He wasn't alarmed or in a particular hurry. He never raised his flag. He saw me and the truck but never changed course until he hit the road. If that had been Saturday instead of Sunday I could have easily cut his journey short.

He was a fat buck. That healthy but toned fat where the muscles are all defined but they sort of jiggle. He was beautiful.

I decided that I should quit messing around and go let him get his beauty rest.


I went back to the house and checked the zero on my rifle. Always do that. With all the time I spent getting the kids ready I hadn't had time to check the zero before. I know, I'm bad - that's two demerits. Sue me. It's not like I was out of practice with a rifle. In this case checking it paid off as the screws on the mount had come loose.

I cannot explain why I didn't Loctite them in the first place. That's two more demerits.

Another thing to always bring along is a set of basic tools to keep your firearms working. Just a couple of minutes and I was back in the game and ready for the next morning.

Another thing I typically bring is a backup in case my primary goes down. I've seen one scope go down while hunting. The hunter didn't have backup irons and he didn't have a backup rifle. He was left begging and borrowing. Not a situation you want to be in.


Fifteen minutes before legal shooting time I was scanning around with the binos. There was no moon but the sky was clear. It was dark, but not quite as dark as The Wookie's Heart so to speak. I saw a deer about 50 yards out looking at me. I could see the outline and while I couldn't see antlers I could see ears moving. Then it turned and jumped over a yukka. It took two steps and jumped again for no reason I could see. I couldn't see it clearly but I'm convinced it was the big buck. He slowly worked his way up a small rise and after about five minutes he was out of sight.

Just like a guy - always showing up early for a date.

In this case he was smart enough not to come back later, but I still had plenty to look at.


Three whitetail does, one with a fawn in tow, showed up a little while later. I was hoping that the buck was somewhere watching and when nothing happened to the does he might make an appearance. So much for that thought, but back to the does. They walked right by the blind. I forgot to check for prints but I think one of them walked under the blind. I could hear them nibbling plants and occasionally pawing (hoofing?) the ground. They finally wandered off.

Then a mule deer doe and her fawn came by to visit. Then 18 turkey hens came by to say hello. While they were wandering around a little 2x2 whitetail buck came by. This one wasn't as big as the one #2 shot last week. This guy might have been 100 pounds on the hoof but he made up for his size in attitude.

He walked right through the middle of the hens and then decided he needed a little practice with his antlers. I wish I'd had my video camera because he put on quite a show. The hens didn't seem much impressed. I guess they'd seen this sort of thing before and just wanted to get out of the way without being trampled.

The little buck first selected a tree with a trunk about 5 or 6 inches in diameter. He faced it, charged it head on, lowered his head and butted it like a goat. I clearly heard the "whack" on impact. Of course the tree didn't budge. The little buck looked at it, decided this wasn't going to work out for him, and decided to pick on something smaller.

His next victim was a sappling maybe 8 or 10 feet high and about an inch in diameter. He worked it over good. Up one side and down the other. He would whip it back and forth with his antlers and then go at it straight ahead running his antlers up the trunk trying to bend the tree over and doing a pretty good job of it.

He beat on that tree for about five minutes while the hens went around him on either side.

I took a walk around the same time I'd seen the buck on Friday and went to the spot where I'd been planning on setting up the popup. I didn't see the buck but there were big deer tracks in the tire tracks where I'd turned my truck around.

Next week I may go back out there on Friday, lean my rifle against the truck, then take a shovel and whack it against some plum bushes a few times and see what happens.


I'll post about Sunday a little later.

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