Report from Deer Camp
Saturday, 20 November, 2010:
When we got up and got going this morning, there was a light ground fog covering everything. The moon was blood red setting over the neighbor’s trailer. SuperCore took off for his perch overlooking the top Skunk Hollow, and I decided to go back to my stand at Campground with a great Sam Adams Biography. I’m not going to say that I was deliberately Not-Hunting. However, I was being laid back about it. I had a nice buck already out at the processors. If I got one, it would have to be a doe, and I had more than a week to get that.
There were also a lot of additional points I had added to my Rules of Engagement. For one thing, there were several individual doe that were going to get a pass from me. I see my resident doe as. . . well, let’s just call them bait. That is, I try to keep doe on my property to attract big bucks. By my estimation, I had started to run low on bait. I think the drought caused a few of my doe herds to leave the property. There is not that much here to eat, and I think some of them have moved off my ridge and down to the bottoms.
Secondly, there’s a doe running around the Campground right now that has this thing for me. The last few times I’ve been out, she’s deliberately sought me out in the stand and staid around. I have some theories on that. One is that she is just plain curious. The other is a bit more sinister. I believe she was one of the doe that witnessed Angus take his nice buck back during Yute Season. That buck was in high rut, and was pestering the bejesus out of every doe he could. All the doe that witnessed the shooting treated the carnage with a certain tepidness that I can only construe as relief. What if. . . nah! . . .okay, what if this doe was hanging out by my stand hoping I would pick off another buck? You think? Yeah. I know, but you get a lot of strange ideas sitting in a stand for hours and days on end. All I know is that she watched me bag that nice 8-pointer last week. After pulling the carcass out of the woods, I went back for my stuff and found her bedding next to my duffle bag.
Anyhow, I can report she’s safe so far. She came out first thing this morning about 170 yards from my stand, and fed in the open pasture-
T here was a shot just now coming from Midway. SuperCore is out ther. I’m going to turn up the walkie talkie.
There has been a small 4-pointer hanging out between Midway and Campground– very touch little critter. I watched him on Friday night get into it with a raccoon. The raccoon wanted to cross the field. The buck wouldn’t let him. Eventually the raccoon gave the buck a wide enough end-around and the buck decided it was no longer worth the effort. A bit later the buck wandered a little too close to where I had bagged the big 8-pointer on Monday and smelled something he didn’t like at all. He ran snorting into the woods, but he ran up towards me at the deer shack. Poor little guy had no idea how long he was in the crosshairs.
He was back to bother me on Saturday. He especially liked to stay directly downwind of me and wait for me to move in the stand. I’m not quite sure what his game was, in that he kept presenting me with perfect shots. What I found interesting was how subdued he was from the previous week. The rut sure had calmed down. I shot the buck on Monday at the peak of the madness. Now, here was a 4-pointer taking time to play cat-n-mouse games with the big orange thing in the tree. It’s funny how quickly it all turns.
I was settled in for a long sit with Sam Adams. Sam was in the process of writing up the Massachusetts State Constitution when I looked up to see a herd of 7 doe feasting out in the field. Now this is truly remarkable. I have come to call this place the Garden of Stone. In 2007 I planted clover out in this field. In 2008 I started taking deer out of it. I have not previously taken deer at this range. The field itself is 200 yards long. My longest shot to date is 175 yards. I started putting stone up to mark where I had taken deer. Pretty soon, there was a sizeable collection of stones between 155 and 175 yards. This year, I took both of my deer from the same patch, only now I was shooting them from the stand at the other end of the field.
The Garden of Stone is a small drainage in the middle of the field about 2/3 from Midway to the North. At its deepest point a deer’s back can be barely visible. At the bottom is a copse of a couple trees and some bushes and then the drainage flows over a lip and down an embankment into a ravine. The ravine is particularly thick with cedars in this spot and the deer use them to shelter in bad weather.
Now I had 7 doe in the middle of the Garden of Stone. I had the Whelenizer with me. It is a Remington 7600 in 35 Whelen, and it is really a bit too much for whitetail. However, overkill can be a nice thing. Seeing the success I was having at Midway I had recently put a new 3-9X variable scope on it. I think of the Whelenizer as my “Rain Gun.” Today I was going to be trying for deer about 150 yards out. The load I have been using in it for years is a 200 grain Rem Core-Lokt SPCL. It roughly simulates a hot 358 WIN load.
I also think of it as sort of my universal backup rifle. For the treestands, it has a lot of reach. My Savage 99 is probably better suited. For open field work, the 7600 is accurate for as far as I am capable of shooting. It is a fast-working pump, so I can carry it on the ground– not quite as devastating as my 1100 slug gun at close range, but I never saw a deer complain.
So there were 7 doe out in the Garden of Stone. One was a pushy dominant female that has been bossing that end of Midway since summer. One doe in the bunch was obviously on her short list. I don’t know why, but that big doe was up on her hind legs smacking the snot out of that poor doe. I try my best not to harm the head doe anymore– too distruptive to the herd. The other doe. She was of good size. She was probably a contender for the top slot, but I figured she would be dispensable. I waited until the fight stopped, and they all went back to munching. The loser walked a bit closer to my end of the field and turned her body sideways and started to feed.
“BLAM.” I had taken aim at her just over the top of a haybale. She dropped. For a moment I could not see her, and then her head popped up briefly. When it was all over, I could barely see her over the top of the bale. She was down and out of it. The rest of the deer scattered from the noise. That is one thing about the Whelenizer. You know when it goes off. The bullet entered on back left side of the rib cage, when through creating the usual havoc, exited by the right shoulder and took an odd detour along the hide before exiting at the base of the neck.
I just got a call from SuperCore. He’s out at Midway with a doe down. I’ll have to continue this later.
Much later– In fact it’s now Sunday morning.
Ooops. We discovered SuperCore’s doe was actually a button buck. Dang! Oh well. I know I have made that mistake as well plenty of times. We all pitched in and heaved him into the truck and drove back to the meatpole.
This was our second trip out to Salem Ridge Deer Processors. Mike and Stacey Jett have been taking my after-hours deer since 2002. You hear me talking about Jake and Myer’s General Store in Lennoxburg, KY. I have been taking the main bulk of my deer to them for years. However, Jake sometimes fills up early during Opening Week, or sometimes I nail one on a weeknight or a Sunday afternoon. Myers is closed, and I have to have some place else. Salem Ridge is the closer of the two alternatives. There is also Brooksville Meat Fabrication, but they are the most distant of the three. All do a fine job.
SuperCore did a quick job of cleaning out the button buck and then we threw her back in the truck and headed to Salem Ridge. Mike was just pulling some deer legs out of the smoker. I’d never seen such a thing, but it was tasty. We headed back home and then SuperCore decided to beat it back home for a late supper with his bride. KYHillChick, Angus, and I went over to Roosters Night Club. We’re so happy Roosters is open again and serving dinner. I was missing my chair at the official D&DH / T&TH Prostaffer’s table.
Bill, Jakes helper at Myer’s, came by to enquire as to our health. They’d all gotten worried about us. I had to apologize for not seeing him this season. I just had not had a deer oblige me with a shot during store hours.
I woke up this morning for the first time in two months fully and completely tagged out. I think that feeling of satisfaction is one of the best feelings in the world. KYHillChick and I took our coffee out at the thoughtful spot and listened to the turkeys in the roost out in the Hundred Acre Wood. It’s Madge’s flock and it has grown to be a big one. All I have left to do now is start packing stuff away for Winter now. In a few more weekends, we’ll be closing up camp for the Winter. Moose is the only one left with a tag to fill, but I’m not sure we’ll see him before season closes.
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