I started writing this at sunrise Sunday. At the time, I was all into watching just a hint of a sun try to make a showing in the east, The clouds had started to gather as SuperCore and I sat out at the Thoughtful Spot, When we had gone out there, the sky was clear.
“Nasty clouds.” said SuperCore as the first wisps came over and started blotting out the stars. For me, it was like someone had dropped the curtain. The show was over. I did not mind, really. It had been a good show.
So it was now Sunday morning, and I could kind of see where a sun might be coming up. About that time the Sons of Moto started sounding off in Hootin’ Holler. Until Moto showed up 5 years ago, turkeys never gobbled after June. Moto started gobbling in February and kept going until January, and now that he has undoubtedly passed on, his progeny keep up the tradition. Five gobblers were sounding off in the bottoms like it was April, and it felt like April too. The temperature had risen all night and was already in the mid-fifties. It would be a good day for breaking deer camp. We just had to be gone by about Noon if we wanted to miss the rain.
I am getting ahead of myself here. A lot happened over the last weekend of season. Let me back up and fill you in.
I was tagged out. Angus and SuperCore both had tags left. SuperCore went back out to Die Jagende Hütte . Angus took off for Midway. There were showers on and off and a little bit of snow. Both were glad to have a roof over their head. I went back to bet and got up around 0800 and started to putter around camp. At 1000, I called everyone on the walkie-talkie and asked their intentions. Angus wanted to stay out. SuperCore did not answer, but within a minute, I heard a shot coming from his direction. He had a doe down.
I brought the deer wagon out and got the carcass loaded and brought it back to camp. Once the deer was hung up, I checked. It was 1100, time to go pick up Angus. I called out to him. He was in the middle of telling me he was packing up when he suddenly cut off. In a few seconds, he was back on.
“Sierra Tango Fox Uniform.” he whispered
That was our camp’s code for “Stay off the walkie-talkie, I’ve got a deer in sight.” I put down the radio and went back to helping SuperCore. A few minutes later. I heard the shot. My youngest son had successfully complete his first deer season as an adult. We left SuperCore’s doe hanging and loaded up the wagon for another run.
Angus had seen two doe come into the Garden of Stone. He had taken the lead doe. She had shuddered for a moment and then taken off for Left Leg Creek. Angus had lost the trail in the woods, but my guess was she had angled down the ravine. It was going to be tough, locating her by sight. There was still just enough snow on the ground from last week’s storm that a patch of white belly hair was not going to stand out.
I had brought Lily, the beagle along. Her formal training was as a squirrel dog, but she had shown aptitude in the past for locating downed deer. Sure enough, she got on a trail shortly after entering the woods, and it was not but a few minutes before I heard her give a little snort, similar to when her water dish is empty. I looked over and saw the doe, and Lily running back to tell me.
The doe had traveled about 200 yards from the point of impact, and was about 80 yards down the hill from the edge of the field. I brought up the deer wagon and started setting up the winch while Angus, Supercore, and Lily addressed the task of gutting. I ran the winch cable down as far as I could and then hooked rope onto the end of that, following the straightest path down the hill as a I could. Angus finished field dressing about the same time as I showed up with the end of the rope.
Angus used the back legs to steer and keep the doe on her back. We used a chain around her neck from which to pull. SuperCore got debris out of the way. I would pull about 40 feet at a time with the winch and then reset. After several iterations of this, we had the doe up to the barbed wire fence. I backed the deer wagon up a bit and reset once more. The next pull brought her into the field. I then turned around, backed up and we put down the ramps, and used the block and tackle to get her into the bed. She was a big one. I marked her down at 160 lbs life weight. She was one of the few mature doe we had seen all year. That is odd. We saw lots of deer, but they were mostly groupings of immature buck and doe mixed together.
The trip out to the processor was kind of loopy. We drove out and got out onto the main road before Angus discovered he had left his Telecheck confirmation number on the dining table. We went back. Once we arrived at the processor, there was a sign “Come back after 4.” We were all hungry, having missed lunch, so we went into Falmouth to grab a burger at Howard’s.
When we got back to B&B, there was no one in sight. We finally raised someone by calling the phone number. Soon the yard at B&B processors was filled with us, the whole B&B family, and a couple of other trucks with deer. There was some confusion. They could not find my doe from last week, and the spike buck had not been processed yet. They also could not find the head with the Monster Spike rack I had asked them to save for entry in the 24hourcampire Dinkathon. Andrew at B&B apologized profusely for the mix-up. The business was getting to be too much, and he doubted he would be in operation next year.
It took the better part of an hour to get things sorted out, and the sun had set before we got back to camp. SuperCore and I went out back to watch the stars, and Angus rested for a while. About 2000, I put the steaks on and we all went to bed early.
Back to Sunday
Shortly after listening to the Sons of Moto give me a serenade, I heard SuperCore rustling in the house. He and I went around front and sat, drinking our coffee until about 0930, before I banged Angus out of his rack and we got on to breaking camp. With warm, pleasant weather, I figured we could get a jump on things and get part of the list from next weekend accomplished. I drove Angus out to the Honey Hole, and then dropped out to Midway and Campground. The plan was to gather up all the chairs, die-cut blinds, etc. on that end of the property so we did not have to come back there next weekend. I went up into the stand at Campground and started cutting down the blind that was hanging from the shooting rail.
Just a quick product review here. I bought 3 of the Guide Gear Universal Treestand Blinds from Sportsmansguide.com back when they were on sale for $16. They turned out to be built like shower curtain. On the plus side, they did a good job of keeping off the cold wind. On the down side, they did not have nearly enough grommets for attachment to the rail, and for the most part having to zipper myself in and out of the blind was more of a hassle than a benefit. Still, at $16 they were okay. The material showed quite a bit of wear, but not enough to make me regret the purchase. At the regular price of $24, I do not think they would be worth it. Just saying.
So I’m up in my stand at Campground, clipping electrical ties with diagonal cutters and the shower curtain finally falls off. It is just me on a bare stand. Lily had caught the scent of something in front of the stand and was following up on it in the creek bottom. I heard her in the leaves, and looked up.
For the longest time, I could not figure out whether or not it was a deer. It was so big. Your eyes will play tricks on you– at least mine do. I could not decide if I was looking at the broadside of a massive deer or just a patch of oak leaves and I had resolved to walk over there and see what combination of leaves, sticks, and stumps had made the illusion when the tail twitched, and I realized that I was looking at the body of a massive deer, hiding his head behind a tree trunk. I think that is an incredible display of Theory of Mind. Whitetail deer think they’re smart, but they put their head behind a tree and think the rest of their body is invisible.
His neck moved, and I could see he was probably munching acorns. Lily had gotten on a scent and from her path, I hypothesized that the buck had been eating acorns at the base of my ladder when I had pulled up in the field with the Silverado. Rather than run, he had moved down the ravine in back of the stand and then back up to a place where he felt he could watch me and not be seen. He was nearly correct. I placed him at about 80 yards or about halfway between my stand and the family campground. I had taken a doe last weekend, and she had fallen within about 10 yards of where he stood. I could not see the head, so I could not judge antlers. Lily had rounded the corner at the bottom of the ravine. The buck noticed her coming up behind him and turned to regard her, then me. For a brief moment, I saw a massive rack– serious headwear on the giant. He then flicked his tail and walked off.
“Have a good winter.” I said, calling from the stand. “Eat lots of acorns and try to stay warm. I’ll hope to see you next Fall!” By then, he was gone. I climbed down from the stand and called Lily. I am sure the buck was not far off, watching the truck pull out.
On the way back, I picked up Angus with his stuff and we rode back in. SuperCore had done dishes, packed his gear and was waiting for us on the porch. (Thanks again for the dishes!). SuperCore I then popped the cork on the water and drained the house back into the cistern.
By Noon, we locked the house and rode out.
Andrew at B&B called while we were already on the road. He’d found the head of the Monster Dink. We turned around and went back towards Falmouth and picked it up.
I took the long way home, past Hibberd’s in Cleves. Angus’ Win 670 had the bolt go wonky as he was unloading it from shooting the doe. It’s always something isn’t it?