Sunday, August 20, 2006

day 44

After a full day of rain yesterday, I was itching to get out today, figuring that the deer would be on the move and feeding early. It was a delightfully cool 70 degrees, with a strong 10-15 mph wind out of the northwest, and cloud cover. I was in the vineyard by 6:45 pm.

Tonight I positioned myself under the deck again at the winery building, looking west downhill and hoping the deer would emerge from the woods at the northwest corner of the newly planted grapes. At 7:30, that's exactly what happened.

A doe and fawn came out of the woods well beyond the grapes and the tall grasses that lie between the grapes and the newly planted clover ground cover, which is what these deer started feeding on. They came out of the woods right onto a berm that had been created from the land clearing last season, and they were both in excellent view against the clover. Only problem--the range was 100 yards at least.

Six or seven times I raised the gun and had the doe in my sights. Bracing myself against the deck post, I was able to get a fairly steady hold on the deer each time; but each time, I put the gun down thinking the shot was too long.

The doe stayed there the whole time. She never moved; she never indicated any sense that she knew where I was; and she kept munching away.

Inner turmoil. At first I had a nice broadside shot with her facing to my left. Then she turned, and I had a nice shot at her neck from head on. Then finally she turned and presented a broadside shot facing to my right.

I debated trying to get closer to them, which was in theory possible if I tried to crawl closer using the tall grass as a shield. But the fawn had already gone back in the woods, and I feared the doe going back into the woods if I started making noise.

Finally I reasoned that sooner or later I've got to try one of these shots. I know that's not the best reasoning in the world, but that's what I finally decided after agonizing about it for well over five minutes. I also reasoned that I can't let these deer go unharrassed so close to the grapes. After all, that's why I'm there. The permit even says, "shooting and/or harrassing," and so even my missing a shot would be a form of harrassment I figured. So . . . I brought the gun up again, steadied myself against the deck post, took a broadside aim at the lungs, and . . . fired.

She took off into the woods, not really showing any immediate signs of being hit. The fawn also took off, in a different direction toward the gorge that runs through the property to the north of the grapes.

I went downhill to the exact spot where she had been eating. I could see the section she had browsed, and when I looked around--nothing. No hair. No blood. No nothing.

When I went into the woods where she ran to, still nothing, and no sign of her dragging any legs or anything in the leaves and pine duff. Nothing.

I spent the next forty or so minutes combing the area within about a 100 yard radius within the woods, looking for some sign of blood or disturbance. Nothing. Went back to the spot where she was standing. No hair . . . no blood . . . no blood.

I have to conclude that I missed. At least I hope I missed, cleanly. I'm pissed at myself, of course, for missing--or for hitting her but not putting her down, if that's what happened. But somehow I think I just plain out missed. I've never hit a deer that didn't take off at least a bit of hair, which I can generally see better than blood anyway. Oh well. Here's a case where I could have used that 30-06 sniper rifle again, and it would have been a very safe shot with the berm as a background to the shot.

Oh well. It was a nice opportunity. It was also the longest shot I've ever attempted with a slug gun, and I suppose it was worth the learning experience trying to take the shot. But either I've got to practice that shot a whole lot more often, or next time I really need to find a true rest for the gun--maybe a set of tripod sticks. Who knows. But it was a nice opportunity.

I missed. It happens. That's confessions of a deer sniper for tonight.


Blogger Ernie said...

Well at least you tried, worth the cost of a slug. Belly crawling sucks so I can understand why you didn't try that. Bet it quite a few days before you see her in the grapes again!

Mon Aug 21, 08:42:00 AM 2006  

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