Primitive Archer

Main Discussion Area => Shooting and Hunting => Hunting 2021 => Topic started by: WhistlingBadger on October 19, 2021, 02:23:06 pm

Title: One more shot
Post by: WhistlingBadger on October 19, 2021, 02:23:06 pm
Well, the general deer season draws to a close on Wednesday here in Wyoming.  I had an extremely eventful elk hunting season but didn't score, and rifle hunting is out for me this year because my .270 is in the shop and I hate hunting with borrowed guns.

So, I got permission to hunt some private land tonight and tomorrow.  Going to try to perforate a whitetail.  It's rifle season, so there's the added challenge, but I hope the deer won't be too spooky on private land.  It's dark and rainy today; kind of wants to be snow.  Good stalking weather.  We could use a bit of meat. Plus I've also been learning to bark tank and I'd love to have a deer hide to play with this winter.

Got a couple good coats of paste wax on the Sudbury last weekend.  Think I'm gonna need it!  Wish me luck!
Title: Re: One more shot
Post by: Hawkdancer on October 20, 2021, 01:45:54 am
Good luck!  Got to get another coat of spar on the bow and a lot of practice on the shooting end!  this working part time is not good for the hunting!  May have to try rifle and muzzleloader, since we have season choice tags for a wide area.
Title: Re: One more shot
Post by: WhistlingBadger on October 20, 2021, 10:48:20 am
Thanks, Jerry!  Working does really cut into the hunting time.  It's one of the biggest things I look forward to about retiring.  Maybe some day.

It was an interesting hunt last night.  It's always hard hunting and scouting at the same time--I've never been on this ranch before and I was completely unfamiliar with the area.  Here's what happened:

The part of this ranch that borders the road is an old graveyard up on a hill overlooking the North Fork valley, with many tombstones dating from the 1800s.  I crossed that, climbed the fence, dropped into some bushes, and perched on a wet boulder to do some glassing.  The alfalfa field about half a mile away and across the river bottom held a dozen or so antelope (for which I sadly didn't draw a tag this year) and several whitetails.  Before I went after them, I decided to look closely around my immediate area, and spotted two does bedded not 150 yards away.  That's more like it, I thought, and started creeping closer.

The wind was not in my favor, going exactly the opposite of both the prevailing breeze and the expected evening downdraft, of course, so I was forced to take an oblique approach along the edge of the available cover.  I soon arrived at a place where there was absolutely no cover for 20 or 30 yards.  One of the does had gotten up and fed off behind a clump of trees; the other was looking dead away from me.  They were about 100 yards away.  There was nothing for it:  I had to either cross that open space or give up on them.  There wasn't even enough cover to crawl behind.  I moved quickly in a half crouch across the opening.  Glancing down to check my footing, I looked up to see two white flags bounding across the pasture.  Dang.

With less than an hour of daylight left, I decided to go after the herd over across the creek.  The only way across the open pasture that provided any cover whatsoever was the fence line.  Unfortunately, most of this fence line was marshy, with a few almost-ponds that were nearly knee-deep.  But there was no way around that wouldn't result in my immediately being spotted, so I waded through the icy water.  It was about 35-40F outside.  My upper body was comfortably encased in several layers of wool, but it took a couple hundred yards before my feet got numb enough to quit shouting at me.  I stopped frequently to glass, and was pleased to see that the antelope were moving up into the hills to bed.  One less thing to worry about:  Have you ever tried to sneak on a deer with speedgoats in the vicinity?  It almost isn't worth bothering.

Getting closer, I began maneuvering into the open (and semi-dry) field to keep a clump of river bottom brush between me and the deer that I could see.  They were, oh, about 250 yards away, a long but doable rifle shot.  But of course, for us, that's where the real hunt is just beginning.  They were about 10-20 yards out into the edge of the alfalfa, with nice, clumpy brush along my side, so I thought I might be able to slip on on one of them or, if they started traveling, get in front of them for an ambush when they crossed the creek. 

Suddenly, deer were running.  Not away from me, but across the field in front of me, right to left.  I looked off to my right, and here came the neighbor guy, carrying a rifle, plodding determinedly along the far side of the creek bottom, making no attempt at stealth, not even stopping to look around.  He never saw me, even though I was wearing a blaze vest (it's the law).  He just plowed straight ahead, driving a herd of at least a couple dozen whitetails ahead of him.  I'm not sure what the heck he was doing, but I don't think he was hunting deer.  He could have taken his pick of fat meat does and probably a couple bucks, too.  Maybe he'd had a rough day at work and he was just hiking it off.  I know the guy; my wife used to work with his wife and we're all friendly.  Might have to give him a call and ask him what in the world he was up to.  But in the moment, after wading through all that ice water only to have my stalk blown just when it was really beginning, I'm afraid my thoughts were less-than-charitable.

Some of the deer looked like they were thinking about crossing the creek and heading out in front of me, where a big corridor of brush and trees headed up toward the ranch buildings, so I got behind some tall brush and took a little jog, hoping to get in front of them if they came my way.  Getting into some trees, I slowed down and started glassing.  Almost immediately I saw two bucks, one decent and the other quite nice, coming off their beds and starting to feed-travel away from me.  They kept stopping to look down across the creek toward the fleeing does; I could not see the speed-hiking neighbor, but I suspect he was still there.  There was no cover higher than six inches between us, so I just had to wait until they finally moved out of sight behind the trees. 

I was running out of daylight.  Perhaps I made an error here.  Maybe I should have just backed out and not spooked them, but I've never killed an animal by backing out, so as soon as they fed around a clump of trees and brush, I moved in.  But now that I think about it, I've never killed an animal trying to stalk against a deadline either, and I knew in a few more minutes it would be too dark to shoot.  Also, my binocular eyepieces were rain-spattered and fogged, so I couldn't see through the brush very well.  But I spotted those infernal white flags just fine, maybe 60 yards ahead, as the two bucks relocated their evening's activities.  Did I spook them?  Did the neighbor guy hook around my direction?  Or were they just caught up in the nervousness of all those fleeing does?  I'll never know, but I suspect they spotted me.

It was a nice hike back to the truck.  After last month's elk hunting, walking across those nice, level pastures was a genuine pleasure, and there were only two or three marshy spots where the water went over the tops of my boots, so that was good too.  And it was a fairly short drive home, where I changed out of my drowned-rat clothing into PJs and a fleece sweater before eating hot pad Thai and watching funny videos with my wife and daughter.

What else can I say?  It was my first time bowhunting whitetails, and it wasn't my most skillful hunt, and I certainly didn't do everything right.  The weather was fairly wretched and those marshes were even worse.  And I loved every second.  There are sure worse ways to kill an evening.   (R

And Lord willing, I'll be back tonight.
Title: Re: One more shot
Post by: PaSteve on October 20, 2021, 02:35:13 pm
Sounds like you had an eventful evening. Enjoyed reading about your hunt. Good luck if you make it back out.
Title: Re: One more shot
Post by: WhistlingBadger on October 20, 2021, 04:14:26 pm
Thanks, Steve.  I think I'm going to try to get in about an hour earlier tonight, and hide out right down in that little tongue of trees and brush where I saw those bucks, see if I can ambush something coming through.  That's a different way to hunt for me, but kind of fun.  There's a great big downed snag I think I can scramble up on top of and sit.  Maybe I'll get lucky?
Title: Re: One more shot
Post by: Hawkdancer on October 21, 2021, 01:30:43 am
Hang in there1. At least you are seeing game with some semblance of cover!  Some places here it is 2 miles between trees >:D (lol)!
Title: Re: One more shot
Post by: WhistlingBadger on October 21, 2021, 02:24:15 pm
Well, I got back out to the ranch last night.  I spooked a couple of does almost before I left the road.  I had to walk across a half mile or so of open fields, avoiding most of the ponds, to get where the deer were likely to be, so I decided to just walk in the open, casual-like, since ranch deer are probably used to seeing people walking around and they were going to spot me no matter what I did.  Pro tip:  This strategy does not work well with wilderness deer.  ;D  It did work OK here, though:  A few deer and a big herd of antelope were out feeding in the big alfalfa field across the creek, and they paid me no mind whatsoever.  Unfortunately, there were several deer bedded in the immediate area of trees I was making for, and of course they saw me before I saw them.  A couple does and at least one buck spooked out as I approached.  Dang.  But I got in there, found what I though was a decent ambush spot, and sat still for a half hour or so, waiting for everybody to forget I was around.

Shortly before sundown, it seemed obvious that nobody was heading through.  The deer were out feeding, just not where I was.  Same as last night, there were at least a couple dozen deer, and that big herd of antelope, grazing over across the river, though.  There is decent cover all the way over, so I decided to sort of still hunt/stalk that way and see what happened.

It took some quiet walking and a bit of crawling to stay out of sight before I got to the edge of the river valley.  There were five or six bucks, including that nice one I'd seen last night, and a whole bunch of does.  That's a lot of eyes to avoid, but I was taking my time, using the available cover, making like a predator.  The deer were feeding actively and moving around a lot, so I figured if I could slip up into the brush on the edge of that hay field, I could just stay still and wait for somebody to come into range.  I had crossed the fence and was just about to slip down into the river bed when all of the sudden heads came up, tails were waving, and that whole herd of speedgoats was stampeding up into the hills across the field.  What the heck.  I was sure they hadn't seen me; I was being silent, and the wind was with me for once.  I stood up and looked around.  Guess who?  Sure enough, here came the neighbor guy, tramping obliviously down the opposite edge of the flood plain, carrying a rifle but paying no attention to deer or antelope or anything else.  He was going the opposite way tonight, back toward his house...maybe he went and camped down in there somewhere and now he was headed home?  No idea, but dang.  This is gettin' old.

But wait.  A small group of does jumped the fence and dove into the river brush, heading my general direction.  A few seconds later I heard them splash across the creek, so I whipped off a broadhead cover, got an arrow on the string, and took a knee behind a handy clump of bushes.  In a minute, sure enough, here they came...sixty yards down the fence line from me. They were moving too fast to make any kind of play on, but they were starting to slow down and act like they wanted to start feeding again.  They hopped a fence into a pasture full of cows and trotted out of sight behind a big old grain bin, following a very similar path to the bucks I spooked the night before.

Well, I wasn't excited about trying to shoot into someone's cow herd, and besides, there was a fairly unfriendly looking bull in the bunch, but what the heck.  Maybe they'll be feeding along the fence where I can pull a sneak on them.  The light was fading as I crept up to the grain bin, an arrow on the string, and started to slink through the tall weeds around it.  I herd a small sound, like the sound of a small animal, on the other side, and thought maybe I might at least get a shot at a rabbit.  Ready to draw, I slipped around the side just in time to see a great big skunk dive under the bin about ten feet away from my feet.

Now, I'm not a big believer in omens and the like, but I do think sometimes the land kind of lets us know when it's time to call it a night.  This seemed like one of those times.   ;D  The deer were nowhere in sight, that big bull across the fence was giving me the stink eye, and in another ten or fifteen minutes it was going to be too dark to shoot anyway.  So I headed out, back across the field.  Seven p.m. I was home eating dinner with my girls.  They're a lot cuter than that skunk and a lot happier to see me than that bull, anyway.

It's always kind of an empty feeling when the season passes without a kill.  I don't like that feeling one bit.  That's the trouble with hunting as opposed to many other pursuits.  It's so binary.  You can hunt well, make great memories, but in the end you either make a kill or you don't.  As much as we all say that it's about the hunt, not the kill, well, it's still an empty feeling and an empty freezer.  I kind of wish I had brought my rifle last night--I could have taken my pick and probably would have killed one of those does right by the highway and been home before sundown.  At least I'd have some meat, a hide to play with, and that wonderful, top-of-the-food-chain feeling.  But I really am not complaining.  It was a very eventful, animal-filled, extremely memorable hunting season. 

So, that's that.  Thanks for letting me share it with you.
Title: Re: One more shot
Post by: Pappy on October 22, 2021, 07:51:22 am
Sorry you didn't connect WB that is always tough, I love the woods and being out hunting also and enjoy the time out kill or no kill but as you said it is always better when you get something. Like i said I enjoy being out there but when I head to the woods with my bow my plan is to kill something, if not I would just take a walk with my camera and maybe some judo's and bow. I hear people say that all the time, " I don't care if I kill something or not just enjoy being out there" To each their own , not sure they are being completely honest , but HA I can't read their mind, I just know it is good all the time but much better when I fill my tag. ;)Good luck on your next adventure.
Title: Re: One more shot
Post by: PaSteve on October 22, 2021, 01:30:34 pm
Good read. Thanks for taking us along. Agree with Pappy "when I head to the woods with my bow my plan is to kill something." So true. Best of luck in the future.
Title: Re: One more shot
Post by: Hawkdancer on October 23, 2021, 01:25:08 am
A good tale, even without a kill!  The object of hunting is to make a kill - the enjoyment of just hunting is after the fact.  Maybe next
year, or late season?  I hope to get some scouting in next week, we have seasons choice tags, so we are good for whatever weapon is open, we can hunt with!  Got busy restocking the firewood in the shop, at least I will be warm working on bows and guns this winter (lol) (=)!

Title: Re: One more shot
Post by: BowEd on October 23, 2021, 09:49:00 am
I can feel for ya about your hunt there.I've had many of those too deer hunting.Good description of the hunt.Especially crossing waist deep or more rivers in november and december or march fetching dogs while coon hunting too.Hitting and not getting can be a further disappointment too.
Still got a little toe fungus I need to take take of from all that river water.No matter what people say getting successful is the final closure to a hunt.You gave it the good college try though and you can be satisfied with that too.It'll make the next years success even more satisfying.
Like your title said just getting a shot is all I try to do too.