I'm back from the hunt, with the 7600 back on the bench and a doe at the processor. I looked over the Garand Friday night and the 7600. The 7600 looked like it would be easier to clean after a drenching. I left the Garand in the case. Yes, it is a proven all-weather rifle, but it is now one of the more expensive rifles in my collection. Saturday was everything I had expected and more:
thunder and lightning, driving horizontal rain, and wind that was strong enough to knock me over.
I had the same buck in my scope twice. Once, before sunrise Saturday-- He was moving too fast and the trees were too close to guarantee a safe shot. The stand was also swaying badly in the wind. He was chasing a doe that got up close to my stand, before both ran off. Later, after the rain had let up a little, I was still hunting my way back out around ten. The temperature had dropped twenty degrees in two hours, and I had planned to wander back to camp and re-outfit. I had not gone more than two hundred yards when I discovered a lot of fresh sign: scrapes, rubs, spoor, etc. I was remarking to myself how dense the sign was when I looked up. Twenty yards away, amongst a stand of cedars was a small herd of does with the buck in the middle. I dropped to my knees and drew a bead on the buck through the sheets of rain.
"WHOOOSH! BANG! flop. @#$#@#$!!!!"
That was the sound of the huge gust of wind, blowing me over, just as I touched off the rifle. The shot went high and left and combined with the recoil of the rifle carried me straight over on my back. When I got back up, the buck and the does were standing there laughing at me. I scrambled for a second shot, but this one went wide as well. I saw it throw up dirt ahead of the buck as he turned and ran.
Note to shaman: next time brace against windward side of tree when firing in stiff wind from kneeling position.
I switched gear and switched stands and hunted with the 7600 in hours of light drizzle. At sundown a herd of deer came by and loitered just at the edge of my vision. I strained my eyes until the end of legal hunting. Finally, it was over.
"Okay, guys!" I called to the murk. "It's over. You won. Thanks for the challenge. No, I really mean that; keep up the good work."
I was rewarded by two white tails disappearing into the gloom of night. They withdrew just a short ways and continued their sniggering.
Sunday morning was ideal hunting weather: mid thirties and cloudy. I took up my position at the Newstand. That's what we call it. It's the newest stand we have, get it? Anyhow, I was just getting belted in when the first deer showed up. This was a way before first light, so I did not have anything else to do, but site silently and listen. There were at least 2 bucks chasing after does. It was quite a ruckus, but it was like trying to watch porn on the radio. By first light, it was all over.
I had a few does come by after that. One got within twenty yards. I brought my rifle up and . . . and . . . I just could not get the rifle up to see through the scope. I kept trying to grind the butt into my shoulder-- durn near dislocated something, until finally the doe caught on and did a smart somersault and left. It was only then that I discovered that I had managed to draw my entire hunter orange poncho into a three inch thick ball of fabric under the butt of the rifle.
Note to shaman: make sure you put butt of rifle under poncho before drawing it to shoulder.
Along about ten, a doe came through and stopped in just the right spot. I brought the 7600 up and . . .
. . . When you talk of "Whelenizing" a deer, you have to understand that there really cannot be THAT much force imparted by a 200 grain Corelokt. The physics just won't bear it out. However, my 35 Whelen did manage to catch the doe and flip her. Once unseated from the side of the hill, she tumbled a good fifty yards, most of it through the air.
Note to shaman: remember that for every foot downhill from stand that deer rolls, means one foot of elevation that must be overcome in carting carcass back up.
I called for backup. Moose brought the truck and the game cart and then rolled over to the other side of the farm to meet me at the old road that comes from the bottoms up to Gobbler's Knob. He's 14, and can now drive the pickup solo when needs be. He also brought me Angus. At 8, Angus can add a little bit of push from the back of the game cart. Between us, I had covered most of half mile and 200 feet of elevation we covered before Moose came down and joined in for the last push.
I took the rifle apart and cleaned it well. The only rust was on the studs for the sling and the Leupold scope mount. It looks like the wax did it's job. Next Saturday I will resume my quest for the next Monarch of the Forest, hopefully in drier conditions.