First Time Experiences

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First Time Experiences

Postby ArkansasJoseph » Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:47 am

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,

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Re: First Time Experiences

Postby Deebz » Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:16 am

Congratulations on a successful first hunt! Even though you didn't kill a deer, having an encounter that gets your heart pounding is what it's all about for most of us. Keep us posted!
"When a hunter is in a tree stand with high moral values and with the proper hunting ethics and richer for the experience, that hunter is 20 feet closer to God." ~Fred Bear

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Re: First Time Experiences

Postby ArkansasJoseph » Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:01 am

Thanks, Deebz!

I went down again yesterday... I got as low on the road as I could. I waited prone, for about 60 minutes before any activity happened. This forum helped my patience.

Ended up spooking a couple, almost certainly. When that branch cracks behind you, and you can't move to check it out, you think to yourself that you're laying in the middle of their highway!

Well, the wind was mostly right, and a couple of does finally appeared down below. They were agitated, though. They didn't spot me, but maybe they smelled me. Niether one grazed, and eventually walked off. Then the buck appeared, and I figure that he chased them away (?).

Of course, I can't shoot a buck yet, so I waited as long as the scope could operate in the fading light (which wasn't long! Maybe I need a better scope. This one requires a ton of light).

When I finally broke position, an entire herd under a rise about 120 yards away, took off running.

I got to work 90 minutes early so that I can get in position by 16:30. It's the last day of early rifle season....


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Re: First Time Experiences

Postby ArkansasJoseph » Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:00 am

Well, last night was the last day of the "anterless" early modern rifle season.

I brought a friend, and this time we camped out in the barn. It offers great concealment, but a very narrow field of vision. It removed most of the joy of hunting from the hunt, and toward the end of our 2.5 hours, it was a bit boring.

Nevertheless, the buck showed on up schedule: 6:30 on the dot. Unfortunately, he had antlers. The last thirty minutes were the coldest, and he never brought any of his girlfriends, so we went home empty-handed. It's fitting: Perhaps noone should bag a deer on their first hunt.

The herd was above the barn again. These appear to be older animals. I believe the young buck is more daring...attempting to get the corn during daylight, while the herd stays back. I may focus on that area, with a bow.


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