The “Fail” Tag Is Really A Lot Bigger That I’d Like.

Ok, so. This weekend? Made of fail. Where do I start, with the colder-than-projected weather, or with the hilarious upsetting in hindsight freak accidents?

I guess I’l start with Saturday morning. We got out around 6AM, and in our stands by about 6:15. The sun was only just turning the eastern horizon pink, and it was cold. The forecast for the day was 21F, an unusual cold snap for this time of year, but not unheard of. I think it was probably 15F as we walked out.

First light an 15 degrees.

First light and 15 degrees.

It was a pretty quiet morning, not even any squirrels, until about 9AM. The leaves are dry, plus flash frozen, and I heard someone walking towards me. When it came into view, it was the big 4 pointer Matt and I have both seen, and which I’ve shot at once. He stopped maybe 15 yards from me. I lined up my shot, pulled the trigger and… it sounded like a champagne popper. And smelled like someone struck a match. The deer kept moving, very calmly. I texted Matt “how do I know it fired correctly?”. He answered “it goes boom”. “We have a problem”, I replied. So, I took a much-welcomed break, climbed down, and walked to him. After some investigating, it appeared that somehow, both the sabot and powder charges had fallen out. Matt and I had loaded our guns together, and his was still loaded, so I didn’t hallucinate that part. Given how difficult it was to get the damn bullet into the gun, I have absolutely no idea what caused it. None. If I’d had my shotgun instead, I’d have had him.

The rest of the day was cold and quiet. It never even broke 20F. The high my weather app got was about 18. With 20mph winds, the chill was about 4F. My toe- and body-warmers quit on me around 1 or 2 pm. Dark came at about 4:30.  My last two hours in the stand were accomplished by sheer will, and daydreaming about a hot shower, a big bowl of mac and cheese, and sitting under blankets on a heating pad. I couldn’t feel from the knee down. My violent, full-body shivers scared a deer away right before dark.  When I got home, my body retaliated against my stupidity by flooding my face and extremities with blood. I could barely walk on my feet or cook food, they were so swollen and tender. I was in bed by 7:30.

The low Saturday night was about 8F. When we got up at 5 Sunday, the thermometer read about that. Walking in, the insides of my nose froze slightly with each inhale. I had foregone toe and body warmers this morning- that was a mistake. My feet were a peculiar burning-numb before 7.

I couldn't feel that hand resting on my gun.

I couldn’t feel that hand resting on my gun.

I'm pretty sure that the sun coming up on a frigid morning is exactly what hope looks like.

I’m pretty sure that the sun coming up on a frigid morning is exactly what hope looks like.

Matt called it around 8:30. I was ok with it- not even the squirrels were moving, and there were barely birds flying in the sky. We tried to check the little copse on the creek, near the road, but when we pulled in to the gravel road for it, a very large buck began bounding away, at about 700 yards. We watched him, and tried to drive to the next road down to catch a better glimpse, but we missed him. Matt tried to flush the copse, but it was empty. He had stuff to do at work, so we grabbed a fast food breakfast and sat at home for a bit, reviving our limbs.

Once Matt’s work was done, we headed back over- gun season means hunting hard. It was about 26 that afternoon, which felt downright balmy compared to what we’d been subjected to. I took my normal stand, Matt picked a different spot. I didn’t see anything, and I heard only 3, very distant shots. Until about 4:15. In that gap in the pines, 300 yards out, I see a deer. A big one, a buck. He does the same thing as that day in September- grazes a bit, goes into the woods. My brain jumped on it- maybe he would come back out near me. I wait 10 minutes. 15. And then. I see a rack popping up over the hill. I had my gun to my shoulder faster than anything. I followed his movement, hoping for a broadside shot. He was about 100 yards out. But downwind. I kept both hoping he’d come closer, and that the wind wouldn’t blow my scent and spook him. He took a few steps closer, and I began to worry. I couldn’t take it. I fired. The smoke cleared. I missed. Again. He looked around for a bit, and very calmly turned to walk back the way he came.  I was really pushing the bounds of my muzzle loader at that distance. I wanted to curl up into a ball and cry.

Matt came running at my shot, and hoped to scare the deer back to me. No such luck. We left, and made plans to go out Monday evening. Since Matt’s stopped seeing deer at his stand, we’re going to sit together in my stand and hope for the best. With all the gun shots around, and people walking, and cold, maybe we’ll get lucky. Tomorrow’s supposed to be a bit warmer- just above freezing, but snowing. I hope I can finally not fail miserably. I’m pretty much a wreck as I write this Sunday evening.


7 thoughts on “The “Fail” Tag Is Really A Lot Bigger That I’d Like.

    • I’m trying. We did make it out Monday evening, and I’m hoping to make it out for a bit today, once I get some errands and job interviews out of the way. If I go by myself, I’m taking my 12ga. I can’t load my muzzleloader by myself.

    • Yeah, the public land we hunt is subject to a local ordinance limiting it to shotguns and shotgun-equivalents as determined by Wisconsin law. The state recently allowed rifle hunting state-wide but for areas affected by local ordinance. But there’s a bunch of houses and roads all around it, so I totally get it. Trouble is, even with a starter, I can’t load the damn thing on my own. And it’s just a bit too long to really get all my bodyweight behind the ramrod (I’m a short kid). Not to mention, I’d never fired one before this weekend.We’re leaving today for Up North, and I’ve got a 30/30 to use up there.

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