Friday, January 14, 2011

Going Out With A Bang

This is a story that dates back to the weekend of November 27th and 28th, 2010, the final days of rifle deer season for us here last year. Rifle season is only open for three weeks and in most areas opens the day after archery and/or muzzle loader seasons close. The first two weekends of the season passed as I sat at home, cooped up in the city, for the first weekends in what seemed like forever, during the near peak of the rut, while virtually everyone I knew was out hunting. I listened to everyone's hunting stories and heard about their successes and tried to act excited to hear about so-and-so's latest kill. I was happy for them but damn was I pissed that I got left at home. It was all scheduling conflicts, and my lack of a vehicle at the time, I knew I wasn't getting ditched but things just were not in my favour. The final weekend was approaching and finally I got invited out to hunt on friend Tom's property where I had first successfully rifle hunted in 2008. The timing was perfect, no time conflicts(due to me possibly getting too sick to work that evening) and late Friday morning we were off!

Three hours later we arrived at 'The Shack', blissfully far from the city and it's annoyances. We settled in, got the fire roaring and got into our gear right away to go sit for a bit of an evening hunt with the light we had left. I might add that there was a good foot or more of snow on the ground and it was below minus 20 Celsius. Thus, by gearing up I mean putting on about ten layers until I became an orange Michelin Man. Thin finger gloves under big warm mittens were critical in order to actually be able to pull the trigger later on, should the chance arrive, and toe warmers were a must in order to stay out for any more than an hour. Quite different from archery season that's for sure. Either way, we didn't see anything that evening and returned back to the shack for some hot supper and bed.

Driveway Stand
The next morning we were up early and went back to the same stands of the previous night. We knew there were fresh tracks on the driveway into Tom's property from when we drove in the day before but I had it in my mind that I wanted to go back to the stand in 'the big field'. I had shot my first two deer ever out of that stand two years before. I did not see any deer, though I did have the great pleasure of observing a great gray owl making his rounds about the field. The owl was quite large but I watched it land on the very top of a sapling of a pine tree and was baffled as to how the tree did not bend right over with the bird's weight as he stared intently at the ground, undoubtedly at some unseen prey. I believe the stand I was in must be a usual vantage point for this owl while not occupied by a hunter. I had actually forgotten the owl was around as he had not moved in quite a period of time when I looked to my left and saw him gliding straight towards me. I wish I had had a camera rolling during this for it was probably one of the most amazing things I have seen. He flew directly at me across the field, his eyes like perfect goggles staring at me, I kept thinking he would swoop up or turn but he kept coming. I let out a small whistle when he was almost upon me because I panicked not knowing what would happen should he land on the rail of my stand. Only then did he swoop up, but just to land on a branch not six feet above my head. I sat there in awe for several minutes as this majestic bird sat perched only feet above me, ignoring my presence, only to eventually glide off not to be seen again that weekend. The following morning I returned to the same stand, only to see nothing but a beautiful heavy fog that not only dampened my clothing but hindered my view past twenty yards.

Tom and I, being morning and evening hunters at this point, were unsure of what to do next. He needed to go to town(a local town, not 'the city') that afternoon. I had planned to go with him but at the last second decided I would sit in the driveway stand until he returned as he was only to be about an hour and a half. I was in my michelin man gear and got dropped off at the stand, climbed up, and Tom drove off. The plan was that I was to sit until he came back, or until I started to freeze, at which point I was to start walking back to the shack.

Found Him!
I sat for what seemed like a very long time before anything happened. The driveway stand was such that there could either be shots to the left or shots to the right, anything directly in front would be close and difficult to aim at. Tom had been gone for near fourty five minutes, which was long enough for me to realize my toes were beginning to freeze, when I heard a doe bleat directly behind me. I sat motionless trying to determine which direction this/these deer must be traveling. I caught a glimpse of motion to my left and rotated in that direction, the pail I was sitting on creaking only slightly. Four does emerged from the bush right onto the driveway. I was looking through my scope trying to pick out the biggest one. There were two nice does and two smaller ones, but they were coming right at me since they had turned onto the driveway. They seemed a bit scattered and one mature doe finally offered a broadside shot, which I immediately had my scope set on. My finger was creeping onto the trigger, so very close to squeezing it, when a buck emerged at the very last second, coming out a little bit closer to me than all four does, perfectly broadside onto the driveway. My scope immediately veered to him. I had a close twig in my scope that was blocking him so for a few tense moments I just waited until he fully stepped out, clear of this twig. BANG. I pulled the trigger and his front end ploughed through the snow digging up fresh earth from below the foot plus deep snow. He made it across the driveway but I knew he would not make it much farther. He was toast and my heart was just pounding. I reloaded hoping to possibly still take one of the nice does but they scattered and made their escapes. I was shaking, vibrating with adrenaline. I reached into my pocket and fumbled for my pack of cigarettes, my guilty pleasure. Struggled with my lighter, finally sparked a flame and inhaled the pure elation that was my first antlered buck. I sat there smoking from my violently vibrating hand, sure that Tom would be showing up any minute. I looked up and realized there was another deer approaching right in front of me coming down a trail straight at me. I placed my cigarette on a rail of the wood tree stand, lifted the gun and aimed at the deer's shoulder. BANG. It seemed so much louder the second time, yet this deer trotted merely ten feet and stopped. I saw it's wound thinking I may have just grazed it, for there was blood on it's side but it hadn't gone down. I took aim again, just to be safe, and not wanting to track this deer all over the land, and pulled the trigger again. Down it went in my scope. My cigarette was still lit on the rail and I resumed that as if nothing had happened, hands still shaking.

Tom's hour and a half sure seemed like it was getting long and, despite my excitement and adrenaline, I began to realize my feet were still frozen and that I better do something soon. My original hope had been that he would pull up and we would go find the deer together but he took too long and I went in without him. I knew where the second deer was, as I had seen it go down, so I placed a marker on a tree, hoping Tom would realize I had gone into the bush, and went in to find what I discovered was a tasty looking button buck. Knowing that guy was close and easy to find, I left him and went back to the driveway to check out the buck's plough marks. There was a ton of hair and I could easily follow his tracks through the deep snow, his being the ones with blood droplets scattered and sprayed around them. I was excitedly and quickly following his blood trail when I saw him, about fifty yards in off the driveway. He was down for the count, my first antlered buck. Just at that moment as I was about to walk right up to him, Tom's truck came barreling down the driveway right past the tree stand and right past my marker. I really did not want to have to walk all the way back to the shack to get him so I quickly exited the bush only stopping him with my blaze orange outfit. He reversed back to me and it was a good thing he had his little deer sled in the back of the truck! I was too excited to really say much, but he knew from the look on my face that I had shot something. I took him to the button buck which we easily dragged without the sled to the driveway, merely ten yards away. Tom thought I had only shot the one deer at first because when I went to take him back into the bush, he said, "Oh! You got two deer!" So we trudged our way down the easy blood trail I had already found and came to my buck. "Oh nice one!", he exclaimed as we approached the downed deer. I was so excited even though his rack was no trophy, it was a prize to me, my first antlers! It excites me just writing about it now. He had a nice sized body and we definitely needed the sled to drag him out even though the distance was short. Back to the shack we went, had a skinning party, some beers, no worries about waking up too early because we were all tagged out.
No master photography here but there they are.

It was a weekend of firsts for me. The first time I shot two deer in one day, the first time I watched one drop right in my scope, and my very first antlered buck. I love memories like this one and I hope to make many more in the years to come.


  1. Very cool. Congrats on your first antlered deer. Just wrote about one of my firsts. Nothing like them.

  2. Congrats on your first buck! You did an excellent job telling the story. My feet got cold just reading it!

  3. Just plain AWESOME. With all that snow I caught myself reliving one of my firsts - Winter archery. Brrrrrr. Congrats on both of your deer and your fist buck. wishing you many more.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Passinthru Outdoors Blog - Sharing the Passion

  4. Congrats on your first buck. Great story thanks for sharing.

  5. I am very very happy for you both and congratulations are definately in order.

    Whitetail Woods Blog / Deer Hunting and Blackpowder Shooting at it’s best.

  6. Congratulations! Great story, nice buck, and lots o' venison! Well done!

  7. Congrats to you and what a way to close up the season! Good job!

  8. I loved the story Laura, great job. Them some nice deer you got there. Congrats, was waiting for this story. Great job babe.

  9. Hey, Laura - just wanted to let you know I've passed along an award to your blog if you're interested.

  10. Thanks everyone. :)

    I had chili with that buck in it today and man was it good. Worth freezing my butt off for!

  11. Go girl! you rocked that day for sure. Lots of good eating there.

  12. Nice story, I really enjoyed that! Jack