13699: Ode to a 30-30
11/12/02-10:41 AM Posted by: shaman from Shooters.com
ODE TO A 30-30
As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool to his folly.
Or at least that is how it felt. There I was, up in the stand at Heartbreak Ridge. The 30-30 was on the peg, loaded with 150 Gr Hornady. I had Dr. John’s autobiography open. I wasn’t particularly worried about hunting at that point. I just needed to cool down.
I’d had the perfect spot picked out for opening day-a barn overlooking a scrape at the edge of a field at the top of Cheezy Hollow. I’d patterned the buck and does and watched them come out into the field and graze at sunrise and sunset. The night before, the buck had come out at sunset, stalked regally around the pasture and then gone down the hill to check his scrape.
My wife had watched him with binoculars. At 150-200 yards from the barn, the shot would be too long for a bow or muzzleloader, but I had an excellent chance with my 30-06. We’d toasted the buck from our back yard with full assurance he’d be on the pole by noon.
I’d been secretly piling boards and such across the old barn’s entrance since early in bow season. I did it slowly, so as to not arouse the deer and telegraph my plan. On the days I did not hunt, I sat in the backyard and watched the deer browsing in the pasture with the cows, unaware of my preparations.
Now it was opening day. A two-fisted front was due through. I had the morning to hunt, and then it was likely that there would be bad storms by late afternoon. As sunrise drew nearer, the wind came up. It was howling now, and banging the old sheet metal as the old barn creaked. I was looking down at my watch, marking the time of the first shot I’d heard, when I was hit from behind and then from the side.
A sudden violent gust had caught the makeshift blind. It had been there that way for over a month, but one gust had made it all come undone. Wham! Thud. THWAP!, as an airborne piece of sheet tin, picked up and hit me square, and knocked me off my seat. I picked myself and the stool from the dirt and sat back down. In that instant I realized I was now sitting out in the open with boards and sheet tin scattered about me. It was also less than a minute after sunrise. I heard a noise in the distance, and couldn’t tell if it was deer snorting or laughing. About 20 minutes later, does started peeking from the low cedars at the edge of the field. They’d stick their heads out for a moment, look my way, and duck back into the bushes. From my new vantage in the shadows, all I could do was look through my binoculars and fume.
At 8:30, I came back in and sat on the front porch. My wife listened to my sad story, made me some pancakes and left me to my misery. I stashed the ’06 and brought out the Marlin 336 in 30-30. I just had to get out of there and unwind. It was Opening Day, and I’d had my chances of a nice buck blown--quite literally. The 30-30 was lighter, and less of a burden. I did not need a burden. Heartbreak Ridge had been a phenomenal stand the year before, but the deer had left the top of the ridge during the drought and stayed down in the bottoms along the Licking River most of the Summer. The oak mast had failed.
No acorns meant no deer. I’d hunted Heartbreak several times that year already, but to no avail. That was fine for right now. I just didn’t want to be inside on Opening Day. I also didn’t want to be out stalking around. I just wanted to go somewhere and sit. Heartbreak Ridge was the perfect place to go and not be disturbed.
If I wasn’t going to seriously hunt. I might as well read. Reading in the woods has always been one of my favorite activities, so I sat and read. Mac Rebeneck ( AKA Dr. John, the Night Tripper) had an autobiography that was both engrossing and repulsive--just what I needed. An hour went by. When the wind rose and rolled the stand, I’d look up and behold the beauty of the Fall and the raw power of the rising autumn wind. When the gust faded, I’d go back to the book and dive deeper into the jungle of the New Orleans music scene in the Fifties. Occasionally, I’d blow a few doe bleats or a couple of grunts. Like the 30-30 beside me, it was more of a show that I was hunting than anything else. It was now 11.
After the third time I blew a series of bleats, I’d settled back down into the book. Mac was recounting a time he saw Little Richard put a bag of money at some dude’s feet and beg for romance. A fight had ensued, leaving men shot, stabbed, staggering into the alley-
Meee. Meee. Meee.
Wha? I turned around and saw a doe leaving the cover of some cedars. She seemed a bit lost in the wind. Meeeee. Meee! Meee.
I put the book down and reached for the Marlin. Hammer back, crosshairs on her chest.
BLAM! I had the impression that hair flew from a spot just above and behind the attachment point of her foreleg. It was a perfect shot. The doe looked around, jumped back and hid for a moment behind a cedar. As I shifted to jack in another round, the Mac Rebeneck autobiography slipped out from under me and fell to the ground. That got her peeking out and stamping her foot.
BLAM! On the second shot, she bolted towards my stand, closing within 20 feet of the tree before veering off and slowing to a slow walk. As she began to turn, I saw a finger-sized stream of blood pumping from her side. I grunted once. She stopped.
BLAM! I watched her wander off slowly. Unfazed by my fusilade, or Mac Rebeneck falling from on high, she appeared to be out on a stroll through the fall woods. Twenty yards down the trail. She stopped and fell over like a plastic lawn ornament in the wind. When I got to her, I was amazed to find that I’d shot through basically the same hole on at least two of the shots. There was an elongated gash, where I’d smashed through her ribs. One round had taken out a lobe of lung.
Another had taken out the diaphragm. Another had taken off the top of her heart. All three had exited through a gaping hole in the bottom of her chest. She’d died relatively unaware. In the space of about 30 yards were three sure signs of a hit, and a good blood trail, but from watching that doe, you would have thought I'd been shooting blanks.
I pulled some spent brass and Mac Rebeneck from the multi-flora bush beneath the stand and started up the hill, dragging the carcass. Opening Day was over; it was time to hunker down and wait out the storms. I had meat for the winter, and somewhere along the trail, the sting of the fiasco at sunrise had faded. The Marlin had drawn its first blood, and I could walk into Roosters with my head held high. Rolling around my mind now was the gravel of Dr John’s voice:
"Yeah, here in the Jungle,
You be ready to die.
Some monkey like me,
Gonna shave yo’ ass dry!"
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