Monday, November 26, 2007

Notes from the Hunting Journal--11/11/07

11-11-07: John A. and I went out again, this time to a different area, XX, which was open this day to hunting with high-velocity rifles. (I should explain that there are certain areas at certain times on Ft. Carson that are closed, closed for all but low-velocity guns [muzzleloaders, shotguns], or open to all types of guns, including high-velocity cartridges. All of this seems due to the training or non-training of army personnel that goes on in a given area.)

Not too long, perhaps one hour, after we started hunting the area, I sat down near the crest of a hill to glass the area below. Within a few minutes, I saw a doe in a small clearing about 400 yards to my left foraging down a hill. In a seated position, I put the crosshairs on her, but the rest was too unsteady, so I decided to go prone. Whenever the deer looked in my direction as I was getting into position, I froze. After finally going prone, with my rifle resting on my blaze orange-colored backpack, I was ready to shoot, but the deer by that time had moved to a less-than-optimal stance, which was okay since I didn’t feel that confident about taking a shot at that distance anyway. She eventually disappeared behind a tree and I never saw her again.

About this time, while I was watching to see if more deer would appear in the area I had seen the other one, I heard a shot to my right. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was John bagging a deer. As soon as I looked over to the direction the shot came from, I saw two deer run over the summit of a hill across the small valley that was below my perch. I glassed the area and saw nothing.

By this time John, who had fired at his deer from a kneeling position about 200-250 yards away, had made it to his deer. This scared three more of the animals still in the immediate vicinity into moving and I saw them clearly. Grabbing my rifle, I assumed a seated position, but again found it too unsteady for the distance (at least 350 yards). Since I couldn’t go prone due to the direction of the deer, which were straight across from the face of my hill, and due to the grade of my hill, I was at a loss for a course of action. Thinking quickly, I grabbed my backpack, laid it across my knees/lap, and laid back against the hill. This was still a less-than-ideal setup, but it’s all I had time for. In retrospect, I should have just passed on the whole situation, but I didn’t. I fired at the creatures, and missed, not once, but five times (I believe I was shooting under them due to the distance). They actually stayed around so long after I started shooting because their attention was focused on John. After serving as shooting gallery targets for a while, they decided to vacate the area, and did so quickly. I then began to walk over to John.

On my was to John, I saw still more deer. Three of ‘em, to be exact, about 150 yards away. As soon as I saw them, I went into the kneeling position and my left knee landed squarely on a cactus. Ouch! I moved a bit forward and once again kneeled, waiting for my breathing to return to normal so I could take a shot. Of course, by the time I did, they were already moving behind a scrub oak bush. "When they come out," I thought, "I’ll take one," but they never did reappear. They took the back exit and went down a draw behind the bush. Oh well. I continued on to John, my knee smarting with what would turn out to be seven cactus thorns stuck in it.

When I got to John, he already had his deer open and had the innards halfway out. He said he was getting tired, and that he needed help. After pulling on some vinyl gloves he gave me, I cut the connecting tissue while he pulled the guts out. I then retrieved a folding saw from my pack and cut the pelvic bone to finish the process. We dragged the deer uphill about 60 yards to a rough dirt road, and I went to fetch my truck. By the time I returned, John had already called the game processor and set up a time for us to drop his deer off. We loaded the deer in the truck, I snapped a few photos, and we were off.

The lessons I either learned or that were reinforced on this outing are as follows. 1) Never, obviously, kneel on, or in any other way touch, a cactus. 2) Bring the shooting sticks you took the trouble to make (this alone might have helped bag me a deer). 3) Don’t forget your gear. (I forgot my hunting gear belt which included my knife, compass, water bottle, and earplugs, among other things. I could really have used those earplugs on this trip because firing five rounds from a muzzle-braked .30-06 is LOUD. My left ear is still ringing.) 4) Practice at distances farther than 100 yards from positions other than at the shooting bench. Learn the bullet drop for your particular load and either commit it to memory or, better yet, tape it to the stock of your gun.

Even though I did not bag a deer this time, the good thing is the season is long and we’ve found an area with abundant game. I’m reasonably sure I’ll get another chance at venison soon.

Take care.

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