I missed.

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I missed.

Postby Sierra » Thu Jan 02, 2014 11:18 am

I received a suggestion that I should share my hunting experience a few weeks ago on here. So here I am.

I was using a stand I've liked pretty well since last year, and I was in it for the first time this year. Just didn't have the time/vacation/etc to get out and do the usual scouting and whatnot, so just decided to go with the stand where I saw the most deer the previous year.

After spending a great deal of time getting prepared for the cold (since that stops a hunt once it sets in) I took a seat, hauled up my gear, loaded and got comfy with eyes scanning and mind wandering. My daydreams were cut short fairly early. A group of four deer appeared a good distance away, two antlered bucks and two does. I did not expect them to come closer, as I have watched several other deer cut across the field that way before, but they did. I found myself trying to shift far to my right in my stand seat the farther they walked. They got closer and closer, but farther right. As I was turning, my motion was spotted and I froze and waited. I only had one hand on my shotgun, and after a couple of minutes my arm began to tire from holding it up. I waited.

Eventually they relaxed a little, and I shifted a little more and raised my shotgun and thought that I should have taken my gloves off when I had the chance. I've never shot with gloves on (nice work on my part). But I twisted as far as I possibly could, aimed at the closest deer, an ok looking buck (I thought he was just terrific, but by TV standards he was probably not a "shooter"), and fired. Deer were off like a shot, and I had a negative feeling about the shot I had made.

The shot was sooner than anticipated because I was not used to the gloves. I use neoprene, which is cushiony, but evidently not as much as I thought. I was a little shaky from holding the gun when I had to freeze. But most of all, I hadn't planned for the *possibility* that the deer would come closer when I saw them, so I didn't shift myself more to the right when I had the opportunity. So yeah, the missed shot was entirely my fault due to inexperience.

In any case, I shot and the deer took off. I had taken a mental mark of where they stood, so I waited a while after watching the last of their tails disappear and remembering where they went back into the woods. Off I went to look for blood, any sign that I had hit this deer, and by then knowing I had not killed it, so hoping I had missed clean. I searched for a couple hours, making two circuits of their path, and not a drop spilled. I crawled through all kinds of brambles in the woods where they went in, nothing. It was a miss.

So for anyone else who is relatively new, yes you can be a great shot at the range, and trap and skeet, or when you shoot stuff that someone throws in the air for you, but you can miss a still target. My mistakes were to first, assume the deer would stay far away from me because I had seen others to so. I should have been more optimistic. Optimism is a good thing to have. Second, once I assumed the deer might come closer, I should have had the gloves off. I *HATE* gloves. Long story. I can't stand them. This adds to my reasons why. Most importantly, I should have been seated (as kellory was wise to point out) to where any turning I had to make to shoot would be to my left. So I made a lot of mistakes, and they were pretty big mistakes to me.

So there you have it. What I did, and my analysis as to why I missed.

After I completed my search, I crawled back up on my stand, then hauled up my gear again. I sat there about an hour or so, beating myself up thoroughly and feeling entirely downhearted. Where there had been a good opportunity to shoot at deer that I walked off at about 75 yards only, I had messed up. So I unloaded my shotgun, repacked my stuff, tied it to my rope and lowered it to the ground so I could gather it and go home, which I did. That was my last mistake of the day. I have no idea off what might have happened after all of that, so I should have stayed up there.
And then the moon, like to a silver bow new bent in Heaven

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Re: I missed.

Postby w4sar » Thu Jan 02, 2014 1:09 pm

Sorry for the miss, I've had it happen too- once earlier this season due to the cheap rings on my scope working loose. I bit the bullet and laid down the bucks for a good set of heavy-duty rings just in time for the end of the season.

One thing you might consider is practicing shooting with your non-dominant side. I am by natural inclination a left-handed shooter, but learned to shoot right-handed as a reenactor using flintlocks. At the range , I have practiced firing both left and right. It has paid off over the years. My last deer this season was one of 4 does that came running in from my left, I had just enough time to shift the rifle to a right-handed position. If I had tried to turn my whole body they would have spotted me. I grunted and they froze- with all 4 of them shielded by 4 large tree trunks! I had to wait 10 minutes (with my arm starting to get shaky) before a large doe finally stepped out 40 yards away and I dropped her.

Though I have practiced both sides at 100 yards and group well in each mode, I am not comfortable taking the "weak-sided" shot unless they are closer. Give it a try, you might get lucky like the first time I did this and had a doe step out on my wrong side- at 20 feet.
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Orange County, NC

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Re: I missed.

Postby MZS » Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:43 pm

I think you know what to do: Practice with gloves on. In our neck of the woods, gloves are not optional, in fact hand warmers inside your gloves are usually not optional - and even then your hands can freeze so you stick gloves with warmers in them inside some big chopper mitts in your pockets. Much of my gun hunting this year was at 5F and below.

With regard to mistakes, I can relate believe me. . . ;)

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Re: I missed.

Postby shaman » Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:36 pm

You've done a really good job of detailing the cause of the failure. That right there has you a leg up on a lot of hunters. Fact is, you did most everything right. It's just that it is darn hard to put it all together most days.

Some hints from a guy who's been caught in every one of those traps:

Mitts, gloves, fingerless, a muff? I may switch 2 -3 times a year, but I make sure I'm comfortable with what I pick. It may mean wearing them with the firearm out on the back deck practicing. I've managed to drop my glove trying to get it off for a shot. It didnt bother the deer, but I felt like a fool. I've also had deer come in on me while I was using my snag hook, trying to retrieve a lost glove.

I like to hunt in a stand with a rifle rail all the way around. To that, I mount camo fabric, so I' behind a blind up in the tree. It hides me from the deer, and it gives me a chance to monkey with my rifle out of sight.

When I see deer, one of the things I try and do is figure out a way to get the weapon into a comfortable spot so I don't wear myself out. This comes from years as a bow hunter and trying to stay at half-draw too long. I finally figured out I'd be shaking like a leave by the time I finally had to make the shot. After I got myself up, I learned to rest my bow on my leg and expend as little energy as possible creating as little movement as possible.

One last thing. If you're going to be stuck in an untenable situation for a long time, deer may not notice a very slow movement. I'm talking dead-slow. Movements away from the body will be picked up, but stuff done in the center of your mass may not. Just go really slow-- no, even slower than that. Practice. Over time you will get to where scratching your nose or repositioning your barrel can be accomplished in full view of the deer. You just need more time with the deer to find out what you can get away with.
Genesis 9:2-4 Ministries of SW Bracken County, KY
Confessions of a Cervid Serial Killer

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Re: I missed.

Postby Ohio farms » Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:53 pm

Sorry. Missing is never fun. I agree that it is great to be able to break down and analyze how things went wrong and learn from it. I have a list of "things I will never do again deer hunting" that I have eliminated from my mistake list. It makes you a better hunter. A 75 yd. shot is no "gimmie" by any stretch. Again sorry for your miss Sierra
Keep life simple...if you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.

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Re: I missed.

Postby luvhuntin » Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:12 pm

That was great reading Sierra.
The frustration of a missed opportunity will always sting, I have the same reaction to faulty choices or improper setups as you.
count every opportunity missed or not as the reason you do this in the first place, and heap credit on yourself for getting to that point in the first place. It`s never easy to get 150 yds or closer to deer.

One day not long from now you will have so many success stories, deer will be all around your stand and not a one of them will have fear of being shot. because you will be holding out for that one deer you want over all others.

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Re: I missed.

Postby Retranger » Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:11 pm

I see no need to beat up on your self Sierre,,,,,,, I wouldn't say you made mistakes. You said you were hunting,,,,,,definition,,,,hunting is pursuing game,,,,, out enjoying nature, which is what you were doing. "Taking" whatever you are 'hunting' is icing on the cake,,,,,,I have eaten a lot of cake without icing and found it is pretty darn good. ;) ;)

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Re: I missed.

Postby kellory » Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:23 pm

:) my response was for you, but you may repost it here, if you wish. Otherwise, I have said my piece. ;)
The only real difference between a good tracker and a bad tracker is observation. All the same data is present for both. The rest is understanding what you are seeing.

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Re: I missed.

Postby rthomas4 » Fri Jan 03, 2014 10:07 am

If we hunt, we will miss occasionally. Anyone who claims they never miss, is either a liar, or doesn't actually hunt very much. The big thing is to not dwell on it; and never, ever, think about what you did wrong when the next opportunity comes your way!
NRA LM, NAHC LM, Buckmasters LM, The Second Amendment Foundation, GOA, NAGR, Palmetto Gun Rights, , ASAdisabled sportsmens' alliance, EDH, and Proud SC redneck REBEL still flying the Stars and Bars!

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Re: I missed.

Postby Woods Walker » Fri Jan 03, 2014 4:29 pm

First off.....this why it's called HUNTING and not killing. If it's a sure thing, then it's not a hunt.

Couple of things......

1. I, like you, hate to use gloves when I shoot. When I treestand hunted I started using a muff with a handwarmer pack in it. Then the only time I'd wear gloves was when I was walking in or doing something else with my hands. I also sometimes on really cold days would wear a lighter glove on my left hand (I'm right handed) so that if I did have to hold the gun like you did on a really cold that I wouldn't get that hand numb.

2. One of the drawbacks of treestand hunting is the possibility that you may have to shoot offhand. You should practice that shot, but it's always better to have some kind of rest if you can. Obviously if you can face the tree for the shot then you can just rest your gun hand on the tree. Shy of that you can do what shaman said regarding the railing. I also used to have a "shooting stick" with me in the tree which I'd use when sitting. I'd cross my feet/legs and then prop the stick under one thigh and then over the other knee. Then I'd put my shooting hand on the stick and then prop the shotgun either on my hand or my arm to steady it for the shot. The sticks I'd make would be a good 5' long and I'd get some heavy cord and make a loop in the top so I could hang it in the tree.

[Little story about the shooting stick........I was hunting one opening day of gun season and it was a windy one. I was sitting and facing away from the tree when I saw a NICE buck crossing about 60 yards up the ridge from me. I went to get the stick to use as a rest, and I DROPPED IT!!!!! IDIOT!!!! I figured that I messed this one up good, but the buck paused for a moment and then kept on coming! I shot him about 20 yards later. The only thing I can figure is that it was a windy day and branches were falling from the wind so he didn't notice it. That, and based on the time of year and his body language he was "late for a date"! Guys.......sheeze..... :mrgreen: ]

Finally, I also have used a tip I read about in an old book I have about treestand hunting techniques. It's called the "rebel rope trick" and supposedly was used by Confederate snipers during the Civil War. They'd climb trees to snipe at yankees, and they'd get a length of rope which they'd tie into the tree above them so it'd hang down to where they were sitting/standing. The rope would have knots tied in it about every foot so that they'd have a knot to hold on to with their gun hand. Then they'd lay their rifle over their shooting arm for a rest. I've done this and have killed several deer this way with my shotgun.
Hunt Hard,

Kill Swiftly,

Waste Nothing,

Offer No Apologies.....

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