Deer season is starting this coming Saturday and thinking back over my years of blogging, it keeps coming back to me about the dove hunt with my dad, the hunt where we didn’t get many birds, even though conditions were good and a lot were flying. This particular hunt Dad passed on to me some very sage advice that has buoyed me over the years, “Boy, don’t worry about today’s bad hunt. Just remember, if it was easy each time out, it would be called shooting instead of hunting” and I’ll pick up the story there.
Being retired and having a ranch smack dab in the center of our fine State, gave me plenty of time and sufficient opportunity to be in the field hunting and I had planned an afternoon hunt in a tree stand, in very thick cover, on the south side of my property, to try and “rattle” up a nice buck.
As I left my house, the phone rang and a very close friend was calling from Houston just to check up on me. Talking for a while I finally told him that I was on my way out to shoot “Bambi”, he laughed and said “Good luck.” Hanging up, the phone rang again and it was one of my daughters, Suzanne, calling from Paris, Texas, looking for Layla. I couldn’t just brush her off, so we talked for a few minutes and finally I told her that I was on my way to hunt. She said, “Isn’t it kinda’ late, but good luck anyway.”
Yes it was late, almost 5:00 PM, (CDT), so I decided to hunt a special “hide” of mine, 10 yards off from several well used deer trails, also I reluctantly decided not to take my deer horns with me, so there would be no “rattling” this trip. The “hide” was cut into a cedar tree, with a copious amount of buck brush sprinkled liberally around so I snuck into it and pulled my camo face mask down, this turned out to be mistake one of several I made that afternoon! Quietly chambering a round into my lightweight .270, I slipped my grunt caller over my head and I was ready for the deer, I thought.
Not 5 minutes later, looking down the trail, I saw a doe was running along about half speed, toward me and she was followed by a beautiful 10 point buck, tall horns, at least 6 inches past his ears, over a 20 inch spread for sure, not being a good B&C scorer he must have been at least a 150! Boy, was I ready for him, I thought. The doe flashed by and I could hear her hooves pounding (or was that my heart) as I raised the rifle with my left hand and tried to slip my “grunt” caller under my face mask, thinking that when I “grunted”, he would come to a stop, giving me a shot, but the caller tangled in the face mask as I tried to blow into it. Nothing happened and the buck, nostrils flared and mouth half open, as if in a mocking smile, flashed past me, and both deer turned into the brush.
Wow! What a sight! Not to be outsmarted by the buck, I finally untangled the caller from the face mask, I was very frustrated now, and blew a defiant challenge call to the apparently, long gone buck, “Grunt, Grunt, Grnt, grnt, grnt, grnt.” Barely a minute later, looking down the trail, here came the buck trotting back looking for this unseen challenger. He was more interested in fighting and now I’ve got him now I thought.
Facing me, a large cedar tree blocked out a portion of the trail, and my mind, in overdrive, quickly calculated he would clear the right side of the tree, and I shouldered my rifle and prepared for the killing shot. Waiting, for what seems like an hour, no buck and cutting my eyes away from the scope, I looked to the left of the tree and there stood the buck, not 15 yards from me, behind a knarly, dead mesquite.
Moving my rifle slowly, ever so slowly, from the right side to the left side of the cedar tree and moving the safety to fire, I saw there was no killing shot available. Maybe a head shot between 2 limbs, but I choose not to as the buck wheeled and moved off, masking me with the cedar tree.
Where was my “grunt” caller, I deduced it was still around my neck, so instead of fumbling with it again, and my “store” teeth prohibiting me to whistle, I yelled “HEY” several times. The buck didn’t even acknowledge me, no stride breaking, no tail flashing back and fourth, he just trotted back into the thick stuff.
Thinking to myself, Well Jon, you really blew this one. The buck has “made” me at this spot, so I eased out of my “hide” and began, at high port, slipping toward a new one about 300 yards away. After slowly moving about 50 yards, I rounded a curve in the trail, all the while looking through the heavy cover and I spotted my adversary again, watching me from behind a mesquite that hadn’t shed its leaves. The buck was approximately 75 yards away and I slowly moved the rifle from high port to my shoulder and slid off the safety, along with several mesquite limbs he was in the cross hairs. My mind was racing, can this 115 grain bullet traveling at over 3,100 FPS, break through the brush and score a killing hit, or will it be deflected. Should I shoot? Not taking the chance of wounding and loosing this fine buck, I lowered my rifle, the buck turned and walked back into the thick stuff.
Walking back to my Jeep, my thoughts were in a jumble, I really screwed up a good opportunity to bag a trophy, but on the other hand, I choose to pass on a marginal shot. There will be another time for both of us and in spite of my earlier well wishers, my luck wasn’t good this hunt.
Like my dad said, “If it was easy, it would be called shooting, instead of hunting.”