Saturday, August 26, 2006

day 50

Well, we're back on the board again. Sometimes you can do everything wrong, and it works out for you.

Mrs. Z and the kids were off clothes shopping for school, so at 5:30 or so I decided to pack up the truck and head for the grapes. I got there just after 6 and farted around trying to figure out where I wanted to set up for the evening. I walked around a bit, looking for tracks and the like. I also took a break to handle bodily functions (if you know what I mean). It was about 70 degrees, but humid, and a fairly regular 10-15 mph breeze out of the southeast--which is good for the truck location, somewhat less so for behind the winery looking downhill. Twice I walked behind the winery to test the wind flow up by the building, which is so sheltered it didn't feel like there was a breeze at all. So I decided to set up by the building again, even though my scent could possibly flow downhill to the northwest corner of the field, which is where I expect to see most of the deer emerge.

No sooner had I gotten my bucket to sit on--I wasn't even sitting on it yet--then I saw a doe in the grapes downhill and to the south of me looking up at me. I was sooo busted. Damn. I sort of scrunched down behind the weeds and tried to make myself invisible, and to my amazement she just went back to feeding among the grapes. Right behind here were a couple of still spotted fawns. These guys were all moving south to north . . . so much for moving into the wind.

I tried to stand up behind the deck posts to see if I could get a shot. She started walking at a decent clip, from my left to right, northward. From where I was standing, I couldn't get a comfortable place to stand (there's a pile of wood under the deck) where I could brace myself against a post. So I hunkered back down again. Then I saw another adult doe with her, moving in the same direction. And a couple of other fawns.

There is a very large cedar absolutely dead center behind the building and between the grapes and the building. As soon as the first doe went behind it, I crept over to behind the deck's center posts and got ready. After what seemed like a very long minute or so of waiting, she came out from behind it, still in the grapes, presenting a very nice totally broadside shot at 50 yards, right in front of me. Aiming at the lungs, I brought the sight up to just behind the shoulder and fired.

Perfect shot--as soon as I fired she kicked her hind legs into the air like a mule and then took off north towards the woods and gorge that lay 70 yards beyond. The other doe followed, and while I made a half hearted attempt to get her in the sights, I was watching the behavior of the first one mostly. Four fawns made a quick exit as well, although the last one paused in the grapes to look around to see where the noise had come from. I got a real good look at where the deer exited the grapes into the woods, and so I slowly made my way downhill to follow.

At the northern edge of the newly planted grapes there is a thin band of woods right along the edge of the creek gorge that cuts the property in half running downhill west into the lake. From the edge of the grapes I heard and saw one or two of the deer on the other side of the creek take off at my approach. I had the gun up in case one of them was the wounded deer.

At the corner of the grapes where the deer went into the woods I found a ton of blood. This is the first real blood trail I have ever followed that really deserved the name. I mean a ton of blood. Even with my red-green deficient color-blind eyes I could see this blood. So I was very optimistic that I would find either a dead deer or a barely moving deer.

I slowly followed the blood into the woods, then down into the creekbed and up the slope on the other side. At the crest it got a little tougher to follow, but there was still a good amount of blood on the leaves of what looked to be mostly raspberries. I followed through the raspberries another ten yards or so, and then there she was, dead on the ground. She had run a total of probably just over a hundred yards or so from the point of impact, and when I reached her I was happy to see a nice low entry wound right in the heart/lung area.

Now the trick was . . . how the hell do I get her out of here? Dragging her back across the creek gorge was probably doable, but steep and lots of brush to go through. I could drag her all the way uphill on a nice deer trail along the north edge of the creek, but it would be close to 200 yards uphill before reaching a point I could drive the truck through.

I puzzled about it while I went to get the truck, and then decided to get her back along the contour across the creek to where I parked the truck in the grapes.

Which turned out to be easier than I thought it was going to be. I decided not to field dress here in the spot where she fell because of the drag through the creek and then up the bare dirt slope on the other side, but ultimately it was only a drag distance of about 40 yards as the crow flies to where I had parked the truck. The hardest part was dragging her live weight up from the bottom of the creekbed to the top of the slope, which at that location in the creekbed was probably two or three feet over my head.

But I did it--although I was pretty severely out of breath when I got her into the grape field by the truck. I looked at my watch, and it was about 6:45. I had her field dressed and home an hour later, let her hang a bit in the mudroom to drip dry, and she was in the frig and everything cleaned up by 8:30. At which time I poured myself a cold one.

That's confessions of a deer sniper.


Blogger Ernie said...

Congrats on yet another succesfull kill. Only one comment on your post, "dragging her live weight", I thought she was already dead? Needed to bust you on that one before Tidball beat me to it.

Mon Aug 28, 08:12:00 AM 2006  

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