Matt’s 200 Yard Shot.

The video is cut and edited. Matt took a 185 yard shot on this deer on Thanksgiving evening. He successfully hit the big artery in the neck, dropping her immediately. We would see another 8 deer this evening. Some of them may have been bucks, but it was too dark to pick out any headgear. We ended up hunting over the gut pile the next day for coyote, but we didn’t see anything.

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Deer Camp and Thanksgiving

I finally make my return after a several day absence. We returned from Deer Camp and Thanksgiving late on Saturday night. This will probably be the first of three or so posts on the last weekend of gun season. On the one hand, we had incredible luck- we returned from northeast Wisconsin with two deer strapped to our cargo carrier. On the other hand, we had what I can only call Pech. It’s the German word for bad luck, but it’s also the German word for pitch (pine tar, not the action in baseball). The German word for good luck, Glück, only really has positive connotations, and making the straight antonym of it doesn’t quite reach as far as I’d like. Pech describes our circumstances so much better, both because of the negative connotations, as well as the idea that it just sticks to you and doesn’t come off.  The bad luck enters when I didn’t fill any of my tags or see deer, when Matt backed the truck into a tree, mangling our cargo carrier, and when the scope on my rifle came loose. Oh, and the fact that the week before we arrived, most of Matt’s younger cousins had been running amok all over the hunting land. The roads were rutted all to hell from inexperienced teenagers attempting to drive off road, we found bottle rocket leftovers in front of the cabin, they’d shot two porcupines, and the deer were spooked for miles around.

Short linguistic tangent and rant about Kids These Days over, I’ll sum things up with words before throwing up a huge gallery of photos. The two deer were both Matt’s work. I got video of the first, as we were sitting next to each other on the edge of an unused cow pasture. The video is saving as I type, and I have yet to even upload it to YouTube- it will go up this afternoon, I suspect. It was a great shot, and he was happy to get it out of the way. That one he got on Thanksgiving day, as we headed out from dinner at his grandparents to hunt that pasture down the road. She was a little doe- probably a yearling.

We hunted that same pasture Friday night after helping his dad with some projects, and getting the blower fan in the truck replaced (in other news, the Durango has heat for the first time since we bought it. Hooray!). However, Friday night, his dad and his youngest stepbrother also hunted the pasture. Poor little kid has both inadequate gear and instruction in hunting- it was about 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit all day, and he got cold fast. He was shivering audibly, and left his stand with about 35 minutes of light left. His stand was right on the trail the deer came from on Thursday night- we weren’t going to see anything. I doubt anyone told him he has to stay out until damn near full dark.

Saturday morning, we hunted but didn’t see anything. The trail camera we put out over a bait pile the night before picked up images, however, so it was heartening. The deer were getting unspooked after a couple quiet days. Saturday afternoon, we replenished bait piles that were gone Saturday morning, after not having been hit for days. Saturday evening, I didn’t see a thing, in spite of heavy sign and a rub near my stand. I would hear Matt shoot, and that’s when he got his second deer- a much bigger doe we had captured at the same bait pile the night before, and I suspect the one I passed on back in September. She’s a biggun. Lengthy summarization over, let there be photographs.

So, the video should go up this afternoon. Tomorrow I’ll have a post about the last evening of gun season down in Madison tomorrow. Black powder rifle season started at sun up today, and goes until this Sunday. We basically get a chance to fill any tags left over from gun season. According to Matt the moon phase today and tomorrow is good for hunting- I may make it out tonight. This weekend we hope to be heading to a kind acquaintance’s out in Richland Center to hunt with our muzzle loaders.

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.

Snacks!

I made a run to Farm and Fleet today for toe and body warmers this afternoon, after waking up to snow. We’re going to be still hunting tomorrow, and local meterologists have dropped tomorrow’s high down to 22. We’ll be getting out before dawn and sitting all day, so it’ll be damn chilly, especially still hunting.

So, I’m an epic snacker, and on top of that I just eat quite a bit throughout the day in general. Matt even said he’d want snacks so I put together some bags of snacks that will crinkle less than wrappers or something would. Farm and Fleet was utterly bananas today, so while I was milling around, waiting for the lines to maybe go down, I picked up a couple bags of their snacky/candy things.

I also added some half-eaten bags of other salty snacks- like the freeze dried edamame and salted peas you see.

I also added some half-eaten bags of other salty snacks- like the freeze dried edamame and salted peas you see.

Sportsman's mix, some other mixed nuts, salted peas, edamame, caramel nut clusters, and peppermint pretzels.

Sportsman’s mix, some other mixed nuts, salted peas, edamame, caramel nut clusters, and peppermint pretzels.

Probably not entirely healthy, no. And quite salty. So I’ve also already filled water bottles. We’ll be picking up hot chocolate on the way over in the morning. I also washed and folded all the hunting clothes today, and hunted down all the blaze pieces and backtag holders. All of that stuff in together in one spot so we can grab and go in the morning. Since I work tonight, Matt will get to do some prepping of his own, but at least I got some provisioning out of the way. Being cold, hungry, and in a caloric deficit is not something I’m OK with. Hopefully these hold me for the day. Or we get deer early in the day and drag the suckers out to head home.

Hunting: Now With More Tornado Warnings!

We made it back from La Crosse on Saturday afternoon just in time to not see a damn thing. This weekend was a rainy mess. It wasn’t especially chilly until Sunday evening. Saturday we both got soaked through and neither of us saw anything. In spite of the rain, there were two other cars in the parking area.

Sunday, the temperature dropped about 20 degrees over the afternoon. My hunting gear also didn’t dry overnight, so heading out late Sunday morning to hunt the gap between storms, I had a head start on my soaking. We waited out a particularly bad downpour in the truck, and then headed out. I called it for myself around 3pm in some rain, and ended up waiting in the truck for Matt until around 5. I headed back up the road to meet him at our usual spot, and saw just one deer, well past shooting light, heading up the field towards him. He never saw it though, and we made it back to the truck in 30mph wind gusts.

We had some tornado warnings up here in Wisconsin, however the storms hit worst down in Illinois. Some funnel clouds were sighted near home, but they missed my town (this time- three years ago they were hit very badly). Washington and the Pekin area, 60 miles to the southwest, were hit. A friend of mine from home found a piece of a Washington municipal sign in his back yard. Washington, apparently, was flattened. The storms also crossed over into Indiana. Hopefully those places can recover quickly.

Rifle season for us starts Saturday. There’s no hunting at all the day before (Friday). I’m hoping to make it out maybe Wednesday or Thursday night for one last bit of bowhunting until after gun and muzzleloader.  Saturday and Sunday will be the days to really get deer. After that, pretty much everything lays low until the season ends. We’re heading up north for Thanksgiving and the last weekend of rifle season. If there’s a lot of Matt’s cousins and family hunting at the cabin, we plan to hunt his grandfather’s back pasture. Gun season is the time we really count on to bring home deer. Hopefully we get some.