D-16 Freezer Filler & Wall Space Eater!
Well, the year hadn’t actually gone very well for me (hunting wise) up until this very day. I wasn’t seeing anything during early archery (which I contribute to a dead deer carcass that I found 30 yards from my tree stand on the A-22 opener.) So, the D-16 season was a welcome change of scenery for me after spending close to 50 hours in the tree stand without seeing a single deer.
I am an avid archery hunter by heart but I knew that there was a way for me to rifle hunt and still get the feeling of self-achievement much like I do with an archery harvest…and this was to hike into and hunt areas that most other hunters wouldn’t. The work involved both pre and post-harvest I felt would compare greatly to my approach on archery hunting.
I hunted the morning prior and had only seen a single doe. Then, after spending the rest of the day running around doing errands trying to get ready for an upcoming Texas hunt that next weekend, we hit the Jason Aldean concert. So, to my account I was awake from 3:30a.m.Friday until my Denny’s night cap at 1a.m. Saturday the 29th. Fortunately I had already made a deal with the devil that no matter what, I was hunting every day this very weekend “no matter what!”
So, my alarm goes off and I hit snooze…then snooze again…and then finally the little hamster started turning the wheel. I was able to make my way into the kitchen and power down a giant glass of H2O. I hit the shower but damn, my eyes were still burning! So I threw my clothes on, grabbed my gear, a 5-hour energy drink, a diet cookie and I headed out the front door and there was my hunting partner Sammy all ready to do this “morning hunt”.
We got to our spot @ 5:30a.m. and we started hiking in. We immediately kick up a few deer, then three more, and then another, and then we see a couple more…all does! Where are all the bucks?!?! We sat until 9:30a.m. and head back to the truck. It was then that we decided to drop weight and go glass the ridges. We had been seeing the deer moving to their bedding areas around this time so it seemed like a good idea.
So we throw the glass onto the tripods with Sammy glassing northeast and I’m glassing towards the southeast. He picks up a few more doe (that he could tell) probably a couple miles away. Not long after, I pick up a heavy bodied deer rolling up over a ridge close to a mile from our position and at least two ridges away. It’s impossible to positively identify the size at that range but it was clear to me that this was indeed a good buck. His horns shimmered like water in the distance and they were wider and taller than his ears.
Once he bedded down we devised a plan to drop down into the canyon further and hike up the next draw to get a closer look. We were still over 400+ yards from him and the shot would’ve been beyond my capability. So, we start working our way up to the top of this hillside to where we are virtually looking down on him. At this point we could both finally see his antlers and that was just an awesome moment! Up until this point we would only get a little shimmer through the bushes every so often so it was great to finally get such great view of him.
Unfortunately I was still over 400 yards away and the wind was whipping pretty good through the canyon at this point. After a good while of trying to get comfortable to make a good shot I thought it would be best for me to hike into his area for a closer shot. We then devised a quick plan with hand signals and I advised Sammy of my plan. I then circled around the backside of the mountain, dropped down a huge draw, hiked up an adjoining huge draw through some VERY heavy brush and proceeded to close the distance all the while keeping the wind in my favor. Once I got the straight ahead signal I could see my pre designated rock that I had made my point of reference and knew I was within bow range at this point.
I then turned my rifle scope down to 2x and probably should’ve given Sammy one last look. The deer had gotten up and I was not aware of this. I was so close I could smell him and hear him thrashing away on the bushes. As soon as I crest to the rock, I see him looking right at me! All in a millisecond I shoulder the gun, put the crosshairs on his neck and BOOM! He stands straight up on his back legs and falls straight backwards! It was the craziest thing that I have ever done in my life to this point and the feeling was better than I could’ve ever imagined! This deer was down 50 yards from me at 2:15p.m.
After some intense yelling in celebration from the two of us back and forth across the canyon, we set in on our first quartering out task! I thought that it went relatively well (need to pack a small tarp and an extra game bag for next time.) The hike out was just how I’d imagined it too…IT KICKED ASS!!! These draws are super steep and the ground is extremely loose. There were several times that I was literally on my hands and knees and still sliding backwards! We hit the truck right at dark.
I can’t begin to describe the amount of patience and determination on the hunt from both Sammy and I. I’m not even 100% sure when Sammy actually saw the deer for the first time but he never bailed on me once and stuck through it like a champ! We were so unprepared as far as not having a lunch packed but honestly this was my greatest hunting experience to date. It was just filled with so many different aspects…it’s really amazing that it came together the way it did!
Until next season,