Friday, July 14, 2006

day 8

Finally went out this morning and saw some deer!

Hit the vineyard by 4:45 am, civil twilight this morning was approximatly 5:10 am. Nothing for the first hour or so, and I started getting antsy sitting on my spackle bucket. I'm sitting up by the winery building looking west downhill into the newly planted grapes.

As I'm contemplating making a move, I see motion down by the edge of the grass in the corner of the plot. Sure enough, two itty bitty fawns come out, followed by mom. I creep back down and sit on my bucket, thinking "this deer assassination stuff is going to be harder than I thought if these deer are dragging their babies around with them." But I reminded myself that the vineyard owner really wants some of these deer (ahem) eliminated, so I steeled myself to make a good killing shot if she came a bit closer and presented herself broadside to me.

It was not to be. I don't know if she saw motion from me, but she went about ten or fifteen yards, then turned around and led the babies across the grapes into the woods. I could have taken a shot any number of times during the time she was in the open, but my vision was partly blocked by the grass in front of me, and there was still that nagging "killing Bambi's mother" guilt trip going on in my head.

So I wimped out; it would have been about a 75 or 80 yard shot. Had she come down the grape rows to a point right in front of me, it would have been more like a 60 yard shot. But again, it's a long season, and it's fun right now just to see what the deer are doing. They disappeared, and looking at my watch I noted it was 6:15.

So I hunkered down in the same spot to see if anything else would come by. Around 7ish my butt is getting tired of the spackle bucket again, so I stand up and lean behind some deck posts to break up my outline to anything below. At some point I start watching a cottontail rabbit take a dirt bath out between the grape rows, and I'm really enjoying watching him.

I turn my head, and there is a doe standing 15 feet away from me, only five feet from the corner of the building.

She had no idea what I was. I'm completely busted at this point, but I'm totally still. She could smell me, she had her nose in the air, she went down to feed, and then the nose went back up. This went on for two minutes or so. I figure I will shoot her if I can get my gun up and in position.

Slowly I pick the gun up from where I'd been holding it propped up against the deck post. She was still sniffing the air. I dialed the scope down to "1" because of how close she was. She moved a bit to a point where she was hidden from my sight (and I presumably from hers?) by the double posts in the corner of the building.

I started bringing the gun up slowly, and I think that's when she saw the movement of the gun barrel. She was off!

I brought the gun up quickly and got a sight on her as she was bounding away, but I'm not much on running shots--and that shot would have been a "Texas Heart Shot" anyway, as Jack O'Connor used to say.

My heart was beating pretty well. She was beautiful, reddish coat, kind of skinny, which makes me think she was a yearling female. Anyway, she'll be there tomorrow.

And that's confessions of a deer sniper.


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