It is Jan. 5, the first day of muzzle-loading deer season and there’s plenty of snow still on.
This is what we wait for – to hunt when it’s advantage us and disadvantage them. Jon and I are on the same farm where we hunted with Benji, the first day of shotgun deer season in December.
We parked the truck and decided where we will start the day. We’re thinking of two favorite deer crossings that are in hollows and have plenty of snow.
The snow will typically hang on longest on north and east facing slopes, but deer will typically bed on south and west facing slopes in cold weather to “sun” themselves and conserve heat and energy. We agree that Jon will setup down in a favorite hollow and I will keep moving around the wood line to stay warm.
At that time, it seemed to be a great plan for both of us and I had no idea how much of a plan right off page one of the “Hunting 101” textbook it would be.
As I “still hunt” around the wood line of a big pasture, I’m moving about 20-30 feet at a time from tree to tree, back in the woods about 50 feet. This gives me cover and a great panoramic view and shooting gallery.
I’m paying particular attention to the woods ahead and below me. I’m now within 50 yards of where I shot a deer the first morning of shotgun season and I’m also overlooking one of the steepest ravines I’ve never been down.
What I didn’t know was that Jon had bumped a deer out of his hollow on his way in. This deer escaped and followed one of their favorite “escape routes” through the funnel saddle I was in.
I wasn’t expecting him and he was 50 yards from me when we saw each other. He “locked up” and just made one move. He squared up on me straight at me giving me no broadside shot at his vitals.
I knew I would just get one move so I brought the smoke pole up, laid the crosshairs on his chest and fired. He exited stage right, jumped the fence and went straight down into the dreaded steep hollow.
I didn’t like that part, but I did like the way he left the field with his head down right on the ground. I reloaded and gave him about 15 minutes to crash.
I then went to the point of impact and found a significant blood trail. I gave him another 45 minutes to bleed out and hopefully drop before he went too far down that uphill drag from hell.
It’s time now to communicate with my buddy, who sent the eight-point buck to me. We blood-trailed him easily in the snow, but he went on and on and on, zigzagging down that treacherous 30-40 degree slick slope. When we found him, totally at the foot of the hill, crashed in the creek, we looked back uphill and saw the 100 yard “way-too-steep” only way out of here. This snow is great to reveal deer but not good for traction on a steep slope.
We ate lunch, field dressed him, took off any extra clothing and started up and out with him. This was the drag of a decade for me and I couldn’t have done it alone without quartering him in the hollow.
Jon and I pulled and lifted him about one-half a deer at a time, from tree to tree up that hill. It took us about an hour to get him and our gear up out of that hollow.
This deer was shot dead center of the base of the neck. The bullet blew out his windpipe and one lung.
How did he go 150 yards downhill out of wind and blood? The textbook says they will do this and go downhill into the deepest hollow until they can’t go any further.
This was truly “The Buddy Buck.” Without my buddy, the deer would have stayed bedded in another hollow and without my buddy, I could never have drug this buck out of this dreadful hollow.
This is just another reason why it’s good to have a hunting buddy.
Dudley Wooten can be reached at 740-820-8210 or by visiting wootenslandscaping.com.