I had my first bona fide experience with the whitetail deer yesterday at 18:30, and thought you guys might like to hear it from the perspective of a new hunter
I'm forty-ish, and have never hunted. Earlier this year I purchased my first homestead, of roughly 75 acres on the side of a small "mountain" range (so that the land is terraced). I like the prospect of cheaper meat, so this year I took my Hunter's Ed class, got a license and some deer corn, and borrowed a Mosin Nagant (7.62x54).
I had been feeding the deer on the second level, and "something" has been eating it. It's in perfect view of a small old barn, about 70 yards away.
Saturday, I arrived before dawn. I hunted until 10:30. While there wasn't any deer activity, it was a treat to listen to unknown creatures approach the pond, making calls. Even without whitetail action, it was not disappointing.
Yesterday, around 18:30, I grabbed my rifle and cautiously headed down the winding road. I wasn't expecting to see anything, but I wanted to be prepared for the unknown opprotunities!
The road winds down the hillside, with steadily-thinning underbrush blocking the view of the field ("bait lot"). As I crept down the road. I used the first break in the brush I could find to spy on the bait lot. Finally, I could spot the location, about 230 yards away. With the naked eye, it appeared there was a bush I hadn't noticed before. When the scope finally zoomed to the location, I was looking at an at-least six point buck!
However, it is "antler-less" only right now, so I kept looking. I had no idea how quiet I had to be at this distance. I also had no idea how much that scope moved without support, and a ton of adrenaline pumping through my veins! I move a little closer to the underbrush, and used a small (and I mean too small!) sapling to try to steady the gun. I didn't want to risk moving any more than I had to. A fully grown doe popped into view, about ten yards away from the buck. I had her vitals in my scope, for at least 60 seconds as she searched for corn. Unfortunately, several factors kept me from taking the shot: I hadn't shot from uphill, at that distance before; darkness was approaching (I spent a long time creeping to where I was!), and no one was watching the kids. I figured it would be a tall order to field dress my first deer and transport it back up to the house in that amount of time.
So, I let that one go, and I began sneaking up closer. The cleaner the shot, the harder the decision was going to be! I made it to the end of the brush at the bottom of the road. I couldn't see the buck or the doe, but I did see the brown back of a deer (or a cougar!
) at the east side of the barn. They are like land ghosts: One moment they are there, and then they fade. I thought I heard a car approaching the house up above, so I had to abandon my hunt and make it back up the road to check on the kids.
I came back about an hour later, as the light was really fading. I made myself leave the rifle; there was no way I was going to let myself talk me into taking a shot that late in the day! This time there was a small doe at the same location. I made no attempt to sneak or silence myself, and she waited until within 50 yards before she took off. At about 90 pounds, I would not have shot this one, unless it was the last hour of the last day of rifle season, and I hadn't gotten my doe yet.
Two more days of this early rifle season left, and a buddy and I will stake out the barn again on Wednesday, about 16:30. I hope that's early enough to let them begin to trickle back in!
Thanks for reading,