Pay Dirt… After A Fashion
October 18, 2015
Apologies if you would like photos. I didn’t take any. Just imagine a couple of whitetail does, dead, and my smiling mug.
I’m sitting here, typing this as I pick a little, grilled venison heart out of my teeth. The heart was beating wildly at 08:20 yesterday morning, as a little beagle dog yelped on her trail… maybe a quarter mile behind. She bounded across the soybean field, and then bailed out of the field, directly under my stand.
I wasn’t going to shoot her at first, but the realization set in that, if I didn’t, the dog would continue to run her all over the property. Besides, it was opening day of rifle season and I had not killed a deer yet this year. So I turned around in my seat, settled the crosshairs in the blurry clump of fur that was her head (at 15 feet, more or less), and dropped her. She was a decent sized nanny, not a huge old thing, but fat and mature.
By 13:00, she was cut up, vacuum packed, and mostly in my seriously overflowing freezer. The big, chest freezer is at Kat’s townhouse in Raleigh (and the meat is all happily ensconced there now). We ran some errands and took a nap before heading back out for the evening.
I put Kat in my treestand, overlooking the soybeans for this hunt, and took the new 20ga SxS with some buckshot back into the thickets in hopes that the big buck might be sneaking around. About a half hour before dark, a single shot startled me. The .243 had spoken once, and that usually means one thing.
I headed back out and checked in with Kat, who, to her credit, was still in the stand. She’d taken the shot at about 110 yards, and she was pretty confident that it was good. But the doe had turned and run back into the woods, and Kat wasn’t sure that she could see any obvious injury.
I asked her to direct me to the spot where the deer had been standing, and I found a set of tracks that spun and dug into the sandy soil. However, I could not find any blood at all, even in the thick brush where she’d gone back into the woods. I thought it over, though, and decided to go get Iggy the Wonder Dog and come back to the spot. Kat’s a damned good shot, and that little Browning .243 is a wicked accurate rifle. I would have bet money that the deer hadn’t gone far, but without some obvious blood, I figured the added benefit Iggy’s blood-trailing skills would be useful.
And it was.
The doe hadn’t run far, but the first drops of blood didn’t appear for 15 or 20 yards. Iggy, though, didn’t need to see blood. I’m not sure how he knows, but he hit that trail like an old pro. Once we found blood, it was easy to follow. The doe had run straight back into the woods, and dove into some ridiculously thick brush. The total trail was less than 50 yards, but honestly, without the dog I probably would have spent the whole night out there.
So the new place has paid out twice this season. I’m giving them a short break before heading back out to hunt for that big 8-point now. The other does are safe for a little while, although I have promised my neighbor some venison. I figure we’ll want to put at least one or two more away, but I’ve got until New Year’s to do it.
And so it goes…