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Here's A Deer Hunting Story for You

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Here's A Deer Hunting Story for You

Old 10-17-2006, 02:25 PM
  #1  
Fork Horn
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Default Here's A Deer Hunting Story for You

A lot of the archery seasons are open, and some guys are enjoying early muzzleloading season now, but for some, it’s that time of year when you’re just anxiously awaiting opening day of the gun season in your state. Here’s a deer hunting story to help you pass the time. By the way - this will take about10 minutes to read, so skip it if you're not into reading.

I first met Tom back in 1977. He was a co-worker with my cousin, Bob, who had brought him to his property in the north central lower peninsula of Michigan to join us for our annual opening few days of the general gun season for deer.
Now Tom was no stranger to deer hunting – in fact, he had been hunting for 14 years at the time. He belonged to one of the exclusive hunting clubs that were so prevalent in the northeastern part of the state, including the “thumb” area. The particular club he belonged to was quite something. It had a large bunk house with showers where everybody slept, and a central lodge where meals were served, cards played and stories swapped. The membership was limited to 50 guys, with 24 hunting the first week and 24 hunting the second week of Michigan’s 15-day season. Each week, one of the members (by his choice), did nothing but cook for the rest and prepare lunches for the hunters to take with them into the woods. There were 24 box blinds strategically located around the many hundreds of acres of land that was owned (or leased) by the club.
But there was more that made this club special, however. Every evening before a day of hunting, the members would gather to draw for their blinds. The following morning – well before daylight -they’d all pile into an old Army 2 ½ ton truck – a “Deuce and a Half”, as it was commonly called. They had to get in and be seated in order[/i], because the truck would wind it’s way around the two-track road that went through the property, and each guy would get out at his appointed spot, then walk a short distance (on a well-worn path) through the woods to his blind. The truck would not come back through until well after dark, so they had to take food, water, and whatever else they needed with them in the morning. They were not allowed to leave their blinds during the daylight hours. Seeing deer was a matter of relying on the numerous, huge bait piles that had been purchased by membership dues and deposited by the members themselves during various work weekends throughout the year. Because so much of that portion of the state was owned or leased by hunting clubs, it became a contest to have the most and largest piles of bait on each property to try to entice the deer to come into, and stay on their particular club land; we’re not talking about bushels and pounds of bait – we’re talking cubic yards and tons! (Incidentally, it was this practice which many believe contributed to the introduction and spread of Bovine TB in that part of the state. For the past decade or so, there have been 8 counties in that area in which baiting of any sort is now prohibited, and there are special regulations concerning the harvest of deer, especially does.)
The blinds were all equipped with carpeting on the floors, walls and ceilings to reduce noise, a 360 degree swiveling chair, and a “toilet”, which was a 5-gallon pail (with lid) with the bottom cut out and set into the floor in the corner. This was only used for #2 jobs; all urine had to be collected in plastic “baggies” and transported out of the woods at the end of each day (yes, you heard it right – no human urine was to be deposited in these [/i]woods)!
So, when I met Tom a few weeks before the season opener that year, I was told that he had high hopes of shooting a deer - which meant a buck – because he had been hunting 14 years and had never even seen a buck. He’d seen does a’ plenty, but this was before Michigan got serious about trying to manage their deer herd by harvesting a certain number of does each year. If there were any doe permits, it was strictly on a lottery system, and the chances of drawing one were pretty slim. On his club’s property, shooting a doe was absolutely forbidden. The members would all apply for the permits, but if they got one, they’d nail it on the clubhouse wall to celebrate one more “mama deer” that wouldn’t be killed that year. So the upshot of this was that poor Tom had never shot a deer, and had never seen a buck while in the woods with a gun in his hands.
As I recall, the gun he used was the venerable Savage Model99 lever action chambered in the then popular .250-3000 caliber, or simply the “250 Savage”. Tom was proficient enough with it, being able to put three shots into a paper plate at 100 yards from a rested position. This was before anyone except handloaders and competition shooters even talked about “groups”. You’d shoot at a paper plate stuck on the side of a tree, and if somebody said, “That’s a pretty good group, there”, you’d just say, “Yup, I hit it all three times, didn’t I?” Tom could do that, and it was “good enough” to take down a whitetail.
Well, getting back to the year I hunted with Tom on my cousin Bob’s property – we had all been up there a few weeks prior to the season to make sure everything was in order and to plant a few trees and bushes that deer were known to like. The next time I saw them was when we met the evening before opening day at the motel about 20 miles away where we’d spend our nights – the property not having any accommodations whatever. Tom was given the best blind on the property; an ‘A’ frame affair that had been made by leaning a couple of old shed doors against each other, then boarding up some of the bottom and top portions of the ‘A’, leaving a 2 foot wall to step over to get into the blind. The only openings were on both ends of the blind, with the two angled sides intact to keep rain and/or snow from coming in.
This particular blind was the best on the property, not because of its design or comfort, but because of its location. It was situated back in the woods about 50 yards from a 150-yard long stand of pines that ran from the two track road that bordered my cousin’s 80 back into the hardwoods. It was a well-used travel route for deer that wanted to escape pressure from other properties to the east, cross through the 80 and into the thicker public land that bordered on the north and west sides. The blind was positioned so it had a perfect view of the pines out its left opening - the strong side for a right-handed shooter. Whoever sat in that blind was practically guaranteed a buck by 9:30 a.m. opening day.
And so it was that opening morning of 1977 found Tom quietly slipping into his ‘A’ frame blind. He sat his box lunch down beside him. The rest of us were going to come out around noon to get a burger at a not-too distant tavern and take a little break before going back in for the evening hunt. Not Tom. He had the folks at the restaurant make him up a lunch so he could stay on stand all day long; he wasn’t going to miss a chance at his first buck ever! He leaned his rifle against the opposite slanting wall of the blind and settled back in the pre-dawn darkness to await the first rays of light that would mark the beginning of the deer season that year.
The next half hour passed in the silence known to every hunter who participates in this ritual. The only sounds being your own breathing, the faint little scratching noises made by a mouse around the edge of your blind, and possibly the whisper of the wings of an owl heading for it’s daytime roosting tree after hunting all night. When it finally began to get a little lighter, one of the first things Tom noticed was a picture that had been fastened to the slanting wall opposite him. At first he couldn’t quite make it out, but as the minutes ticked by, he was able to see that it was a picture of a monster buck with a perfect 12-point rack, taken from the cover of a popular outdoors magazine. This picture had been secretly placed there by Bob a few weeks prior just before we left the property, and it had been there waiting for this moment when Tom would be able to see it. After a few more minutes the light was good enough so he could not only see the picture better, but also that something was written on it. Along the top edge of the picture were the words, “Tom: This is not a hen, it’s a buck!” And along the bottom, “If you see one of these – shoot it!” So as daylight broke that morning, Tom was in position, physically and mentally prepared to harvest the very first buck of his life – maybe even a giant like the one that was looking at him from the magazine cover only three feet away.
For myself, I was seated against a large tree about 200 yards away from Tom’s blind, facing the opposite direction. From where I sat I could just make out a small ridge of land that ran from Bob’s 80 to the adjoining public land, near the northwest corner of his property. Just before legal shooting time I had watched the shadowy silhouettes of two deer come sneaking onto the property – and bed down under a large deadfall only about 30 yards directly in front of me! As the morning passed, I looked and looked – trying to make out antlers, but the brush was too thick and the shadows too confusing to determine anything except the vague outlines of two deer. I sat glued to my spot until finally, about 11:00 a.m., they got up and slowly worked their way to my left, and I could clearly see that they were both does. I didn’t have a doe tag.
Around 11:15 it dawned on me that I hadn’t heard any shots anywhere on the property – and especially not from the direction of Tom’s blind. I decided to get up and slowly make a circle through some of the thicker stuff, gradually working my way around to where Tom was with the hope of pushing some deer in his direction. A little while before noon, when I was to meet the other guys at the car, I came into sight of the ‘A’ frame. I could see Tom’s shoulder through the opening, and as I got within about 40 yards he heard me coming and turned to look in my direction. I walked up to the side of his blind and quietly said, “How’s it going?” I will never forget what he said in reply, “I’ve seen thirty-one deer, and every one of them as bald as a peeled grape!” I had to cover my mouth with my glove to keep my laughter from alerting every deer in the county. I wished him luck and headed out to meet the others.
Tom didn’t get a deer that year. Neither did anyone else in our party. One guy almost had a shot at a spike, but he was sitting in a blind made of brush and dead branches, and as he was raising his rifle up to shoot, the barrel caught on a branch, broke it, and the spooked deer got away without a scratch. I heard from my cousin that Tom had gone back to his club property after that, and a few years later got his buck – a year and a half old fork horn. It was a small deer by most standards, but Tom was tickled pink – it was the result of almost 20 years effort and represented many hours of work and patience.
If you’re a seasoned deer hunter, I’m sure you can relate to much of what Tom went through. If you’re new at the sport, I hope you will take a lesson from it. It’s nice to get a deer – be it a doe or a buck – but the real value of deer hunting is spending time with your friends; enjoying the opportunity of sitting out in God’s beautiful creation observing the sunrise, the first sounds of a quiet morning, the various birds and animals that will pass your way. While you’re hoping to squeeze the trigger on a deer, don’t lose sight of the tremendous privilege we have in this country just to be there. And if you don’t get one this year, be thankful for the experience and look forward to next year. With luck, you won’t have to wait 20 years to shoot your first deer.
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Old 10-17-2006, 03:40 PM
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Damn, I'm just starting out but I hope that doesn't happen to me!
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Old 10-17-2006, 04:21 PM
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Don't worry. There are a lot more deer around now
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Old 10-17-2006, 06:07 PM
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Nontypical Buck
 
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Default RE: Here's A Deer Hunting Story for You

can someone summarize very shortly what he wrote, cause i dont feel like reading it all lol
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Old 10-17-2006, 06:56 PM
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20 years is almost too long to believe.
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Old 10-17-2006, 10:42 PM
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Yes a book report on that story would be nice.
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Old 10-17-2006, 11:08 PM
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Hey jaybe, don't be disheartened by the smart alecs. That's an AWESOME story. You should submit it to Field&Stream and a few others. What with all hoo-hahs, camo, blinds, stands,scentsand junk that's available to hunter's these days, literally thousands of dollars worth of stuff that you can buy to hunt, it's nice to read a very simple reminder of what it's REALLY all about. I'm a novice, this will be my first year to try and harvest a deer. I don't expect to go out and get anything. It'd be nice if I do, but your story really illustrates what's drawn me to finally getting out and doing it.

So, Thank You.
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Old 10-17-2006, 11:41 PM
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Ok angry how about that report.Probably good story would love to know.If iread that much at one time headache.
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Old 10-18-2006, 09:41 AM
  #9  
Fork Horn
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No - I'm not disheartened. I knew that in this day of high school graduates that can't read, there wouldbe some who wouldn't be able to understand it without pictures. LOL
Just kidding . . . just kidding!
I just edited it to warn everyone that it will take a few minutes to read.

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Old 10-18-2006, 10:34 AM
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ORIGINAL: Southern Man

Ok angry how about that report.Probably good story would love to know.If iread that much at one time headache.
wouldnt it take less effort to read it once than to post twice complaining that its too long?

Read it if you want, if its too long for you to handle, then dont read it.
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