Deer Camp 2015 — Ineff is Ineff

0630 ET

Although it still dark, it in a little while it will be light enough to hunt. I still have a tag. The end of season is over ten hours away. Why am I back in town? Why are the rifles already back on the rack? Why has the shaman stopped hunting?

Look, guys, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but if you spend your life driven by the great ineffables of Life, eventually one of them is going to say “Ineff is Ineff’ing Ineff,” and leave you in the rain watching a 60 lb button buck munch ryegrass. That is not to say that was the whole story either. The real story goes back to about 0930 on the Opener, two weeks ago.

The bucks were definitely up and moving on the Opener. Angus got his buck. Supercore got his monster. I got a sawed off pair of bucks, a cervid version of Spike and Chester circling my stand, completely aware of my presence, and completely unafraid. Spike kept batting Chester away, but Chester kept coming, and all the while there they were eyeing that thing in the tree in the orange clown suit that was staring at them. It would have just been fun to watch, but I could not help feeling that the larger of the two, a robust young 6 pointer was breaking the hunter’s version of the 4th wall, as if he was begging for me to shoot the pestering 4-pointer. I saw them a couple of times this season, and it was always the same act– the little guy bugging the bigger guy until the big one lowered his head and charged.

I have to say I was proud when Angus called and said his buck was down, and that he was going to get the S-10 to haul him out. As the patriarch of the clan and camp, it felt good to have another son able to pull his own deer out by himself. The disappointment came a half hour later when the block and tackle jammed up and he had to call back for me for an assist. It was not his fault. The rope was too small for the new sheaves. However, from that point on my season seemed to be blighted. It was a minor problem. Da Hirschwagen performed perfectly from there on out. In fact, we set new camp records, getting the deer to the processor on Thursday of Opening Week and on this last Friday night, as both deer were dropped off at the processor in Lenoxburg before the 8 PM closing with fairly wide margins.

I thought I would have redemption on that afternoon. I sighted well over 15 deer on the way out to the blind, but they were surrounding the blind, and there were just too many eyes to get any closer, and no bucks in the lot. In retrospect, more than half of those 15 were refugees from the neighboring farms. They filtered back out over the next couple of days, and I was left with a recurring cast of about 8 regulars that I had been seeing since June. In one case, the fat doe had become the skinny doe with two fawns over the course of a couple days in the TrailCam. They appeared last on Friday night, and the two fawns had become two robust button bucks over the intervening months.

Before I go on, I want to stop and relate something I saw in my binoculars midway through Opening Week. That triad, the doe and two buttons had come out to graze in the pocket of the pasture closest to my stand at Campground. Just around sundown, an older doe came out from the opposite side of the pasture, and the triad shot their heads up and ran over to this more mature doe. The two buttons quickly went back to eating, but the young doe approached the older and licked the her muzzle with great intensity and then moved back in a motion that resembled the beginning of suckling. The older doe’s body was then thrown sideways as the younger threw herself in what must have been a gesture of greeting. I can only imagine this to be a grateful reunion. Perhaps the group had become separated during the early parts of the Opener. The younger doe certainly seemed to be welcoming the older one back. They stayed inseparable throughout the week.

The acorn crop was a bust this year. All of my stands in the oak groves were groaning failures. All the action was out in the fields, and you could tell these deer were hungry and eating as much of the poorer stuff as they could. I was buoyed by the number of deer I saw, and I kept figuring it was only a matter of time before a nice shootable buck ventured out among them. I had seen this scenario play out several times before season. In one instance three big racks had come within 150 yards of the house to chow down. Another time two were out in the field with their heads down at Skunk Hollow. However, two of these bucks were now on our meatpole.

There were three new hunting venues this year. Fountain Square, the new treestand just 150 yards from the house produced a nice doe on Friday evening. With all the bugs worked out, Angus was able to make the retrieval with the S-10, and we got the deer to the processor with 30 minutes to spare despite running it out of gas in the field in the rain. That 120-pound-ish doe meant a lot. He nailed it at 180 yards with a perfect boileroom hit with his Winchester 670 in 30-06. That beats my longest shot by a wide margin. That was also the first sitting on that stand. I think it has a bright future. Angus said he took the shot, because he did not want to hunt in the approaching 3-day rain. It started to drizzle as we drove out of the field.

Close by Fountain Square, we set up a make-shift venue for SuperCore at The Hand. He had several shooting opportunities there. One doe came up within 15 yards with SuperCore sitting out in the open in a folding chair. Angus and I put out a pop-up blind so he could hunt from it in the upcoming rain, but never had a chance to use it. It is now drying out in the attic.

Of course, the big producer this year was S-10, overlooking Dead Skunk Hollow. SuperCore got his two on the Opener from there. I had a couple of sits out there during the first week. SuperCore finished his season yesterday taking a third doe from that vantage.

Which brings back the question of why I am still not out there, this morning, in 41 F and occasional light rain. It comes down to a lot of things, some of which you cannot fully appreciate until you are the patriarch of your own camp. For starters, there is the issue of the deer that you are harvesting. I know “harvest” is a bad word to some of you, and I agree. I won’t “harvest” an individual deer. However, once you pull back and start looking at it in the aggregate, it does make sense. In this case, we started off with probably over the 15 deer we normally can sustain on our 200 acres. We can take as many as we want in Zone 1, but taking more than a third or so of what nature has allotted is probably not a good idea. Our count for the season stands at 2 bucks, three doe, and a button buck. If another buck had shown up in my sights, I would have taken him, but I did not think that was going to happen. I did not want to take buttons. I did not want to take the dominant does. That is why I am here at home this morning.

There is the question of freezer space. I have two freezers and I can take 5 deer comfortably. However, I am trying to move in the next year and the more venison I have to move, the harder it is going to be to free up one freezer at a time. If The Big One had shown up yesterday morning, that would not have been a problem. However, Angus’ buck had a pretty awesome yield. The grind alone filled more than a 5 gallon bucket. We have enough venison for the winter.

There was only so much of Lil Buttons I could take. My guess is that Mom either died or threw him out when he was weened. He was not particularly needy. In fact he seemed quite self-sufficient. It was just his curiosity and his naivety that started to grate on me. He took to bedding beside the blind at Midway, probably because the walls afforded him a windbreak. On a few occasions, he was the only deer I saw. I had been sizing him up for the meatpole when I saw the buttons. He was joined on the last weekend by a doe with a slight bullet track on her back. It was just a graze, and it matched SuperCore’s description of a miss on a doe during the first week. I had not seen her before. Both she and Lil Buttons had a nasty habit of coming up to graze on the blind side of the blind. I could hear them chanking and chawing through the wall. They could have cared less about me. That just made it all the more insufferable.

SuperCore and Angus had already returned to the processor with SuperCore’s doe. Angus had driven out to pick me up at Midway to save me the walk back in the rain. Angus was not going back out SuperCore was done for the year. We sat mostly quietly listening to the rain, since we had run through most of the good stories we had heard since Turkey Camp closed, and we were beginning to repeat ourselves. There were three nice steaks waiting, but it was looking like another pour down around supper time, so they might have to be broiled instead of grilled. You could tell these guys would have gladly spent the next 24 hours playing Gin Rummy, waiting for me to run out of dry clothes. That was not going to happen. Neither was the The Big One going to bump Lil Buttons out of his nest beside Midway and stick his head in the blind. It was time for the patriarch of deer camp to act.

“I was thinking of the possibility of hauling out of here early,” I said. The vote was unanimous. They had returned from the processor at 1000. The vote occurred before Noon. I popped the cork on the water at 1222, and a half hour later we were able to lock the door and leave. SuperCore treated us to dead fried chicken and a 3-Way at the Marathon and were back home with the freezer loaded before 4.

KYHillChick just came in to remind me that the ballcock in the master bathroom is not working. I’ll now go and eat breakfast and get to the hardware store before getting this posted.


A Doe in the Scope

We are heading home today from deer camp, marking the end of week #1. It is time to go home, do some wash, eat a big turkey dinner, and watch some football before heading down after dinner on Thursday.

No, I have not gotten the big buck.  Nor have I seen him.  However, I am pleased that SuperCore and Angus got theirs.  I picked up Angus’ from the processor in Lennoxburg  on Friday– lots of meat.  SuperCore had to borrow a cooler off me to get all of his home.  I won’t say I was jinxed this year, but I always seemed to  be in the wrong blind at the wrong time. That is okay for the most part, and I still have next weekend, and I still have a vivid memory of being up a tree on the last morning, getting a head start on winterizing the stands and seeing The Big One eyeing me from behind a tree in easy chip-shot range.

I will not be eating tag soup this year either.  Friday night, I had a bit of a victory. I had been hunting at Midway on and off all week. I had seen plenty of deer– 10-12 doe in one instance.  However, they were mostly small or had fawns in tow.  As the week wore on, the big herds dispersed back to the neighboring properties.  Friday AM, only one doe showed up.  I had the crosshairs on her, when she popped her head into bright sunlight and I saw the buttons.  That in and of itself was a victory.  I would have been quite distraught if I had burned a button buck.  I was quite pleased, because it really vindicated all the money I had spent on the Bushnell Elite 3-9X40 for the Hawkeye.  I had made that mistake before with a button buck about 10 seasons ago with a cheap scope. I don’t mean to sound like I am in the bag to Bushnell, but I have purchased a bunch of Bushnell scopes in recent years and this is another reason to be glad I did.

The story did not stop there.  Lil Buttons down the western edge of the field and then cut over to the opposite side where I was.  He came close to sticking his head in the blind.  I managed to snap a picture of him.  I heard him disappear off to the east side of the blind.  It was about time to go in.  I knew KYHillChick might be busy later in the day, so I decided to call from the blind to let her know I’d survived.  We talked for a bit. I got caught up on the doings at home and finalized plans for Angus’ return to camp later that day.

When I was done, I closed up the blind, kicked the duffel bag out the door and backed out.  Who should be bedded just to the side of the door but Lil Buttons.  He’d gotten a perfect view of my my backside as I came out the door before deciding to vacate the premises. I’m just glad I he did not decide to kick me or worse.

Friday night, Angus and SuperCore were due in before 7. I was back out at Midway.  I had given up on looking out the north side of the blind.  The wind was strong enough that if I had both windows open, it was just going to raise havoc.  I had not seen anything out in the field below Honey Hole anyway all season.  All the action had been to the south.

I spent all of Friday afternoon in the blind.  I had Admiral Lockwood’s  WWII  submarine memoir “Sink ’em All” for company.  Ripping stuff if you like submarines and a sub-$2 Nook Book from The sun set a little after 1720 hours.The last minute of legal hunting was 1750.  At 1742 I sited multiple targets coming out into the Garden of Stone.  At exactly 1750, in the last minute of legal hunting, I found the large form of a doe in the scope and pulled the trigger.  The muzzle blast from the Hawkeye blinded me for a bit. However, walking off the 150 yards out, my eyesight readjusted and I found a white patch in the dark, a large 150 lb doe with both lungs gone and the top of her heart missing.  Oh, and as I backed out of the blind to go find the doe, what should I see but half a dozen  bouncing white tails from the northern field.  So much for the idea that there were no deer feeding in that field.  The all ran into the woods just behind Angus’ blind at Lazy Boy.

Angus and SuperCore were close when I called. They brought out the Hirschwagen and we got her loaded. I had her cleaned out by 1930 and I called Lenoxburg Country Store for an assurance that they would not close early. We pulled up in front at exactly 2000, not exactly with a broom on our mast, but a nice bit of venison nonetheless.

The front room at deer camp is currently filled with garbage bags, one for hunting duds, one for the poly underwear we wash separately.  Another for socks and another for street clothes.  I have yet to salt down all the stuff that will remain with baking soda.  Over the week that will kill any stink.   We have a bunch of venison to load in the coolers, and then I’ll pop the cork on the water and blow tanks and be gone.  I still have well over half of Lockwood’s book to read when I get back next weekend.


Report from Deer Camp — The Opener, 2015

SuperCore left today before lunch. Angus had to go home for school Sunday afternoon. That left me here at camp to watch the wall of rain roll over the ridge followed by a 35 MPH gust front. When it hit, it was like a bucket of water had been thrown at me. That send me inside. I have not been out since. That is sort of how it has felt in general since the Opener.

It was looking really great on Saturday, the Rifle Opener. The first shot rang out in the first minute of season. Around 0830 Angus saw his monster ambling along in the pasture below Blackberry, one of our new stands. He shot, the deer made a short run into the woods. Angus called me a short while later on the walkie-talkie, and then set about retrieving it himself. SuperCore had similar luck a few minutes later. Within 15 minutes, both had really nice 9-pointers down. A few minutes after that, two buck took the long way around my stand– a 6 pointer and a 4 pointer that travel as a matched pair. I kept them in my scope for a considerable amount of time, before deciding neither one was worth taking this year. Both were big, burly deer, and both promised to be monsters. They saw me in my orange clown suit, up the tree at Campground and could have cared less.

Then the walkie-talkie started to come to life again. Angus was having trouble with the block and tackle, getting the deer into the back of the truck. SuperCore’s buck had run into the woods and his recent heart surgery precluded him from schlepping it out himself. He also had taken a smaller doe in the meanwhile. This is how Rifle Openers go when you are the Patriarch of Camp.

Angus picked up a while later in the Hirschwagen, our dedicated deer recovery vehicle. I quickly figured out the problem: the rope was too small for the sheaves and was coming off. I sent Angus back to retrieve the other set. From there, it did not take long to get the buck back to camp, dump it, and head out in the direction of Gobbler’s Knob to pick up Supercore’s deer. The buck was big, bigger than Angus’ brute. I deployed the winch and had it out of the cedar thicket to the left of Jagendehutte in no time. The doe turned out to be a button buck. SuperCore is known for taking twofers when he can. It was small enough to be carried by hand.

This was the first triple-header. I’d built the meat pole to take three, but this was the first time it had been tested. It made for some interesting arrangements of the gear, but it all worked. It was well into the afternoon before we had the deer to the processor. Myer’s in Lennoxburg is under new management, and we took them there. It was getting on to 5 O’Clock before I could get back out to hunt.

I had meant to go sit at Midway, but things did not work out that way. As I came to the last bend in the road before the Honey Hole, I peered out into the pastures and saw a dozen deer munching forbs to all sides of my blind. I spent a while glassing them from 200 yards and did not see and big racks. It was mostly doe that had been scared over from the other properties. They were skittish, and when I tried to do an end around through the woods, I was busted. I did manage to get to Midway at dark. There were still a few doe out in the far field.

Since then, it has been very low-key. We all see deer when we go out. A couple of nice bucks have shown up when we have been out driving, but I have not seen them. Instead, I have mostly hunted Midway, Blackberry and Jagendehutte. SuperCore has hunted S10 and The Hand. The deer are feeding in the fields exclusively. It would appear the acorns failed miserably, and they all seem ravenous. All the deer we took had mostly grass and a little of my neighbor’s corn in them.

The rain and wind will depart overnight, and things will reset themselves so Weekend #2 will be seasonable like the Opener. I will try and mix things up a bit until SuperCore and Angus return on Friday. I have not panicked yet, but thoughts of a monster are becoming replaced with the resignation that I might have to settle for something less.


So What Deer Rifles Are You Using, Shaman?

So what rifles are you using this year, Shaman?

There have been a lot of changes to the deer battery this year. I just thought I would give y’all a quick rundown.



Savage 99, 308 WIN

This is the same rifle I’ve been using for most every Opener since 2003. I’m still shooting 165 grain Hornady SP over H4895, downloaded to 300 Savage levels. This is my favorite gun for the deep woods up in the stand. Last year I put a new Bushnell Banner Dusk-to-Dawn 3-9X40 on it. This added a good 10 minutes to my hunting time on both ends.

Ruger Hawkeye Stainless, 30-06

This will be the second year for the Hawkeye. This is my top gun for nearly everything beside in the deep woods. No changes in the loads– still 165 grain Hornady over H4895.

Remington 7600 , 35 Whelen (The Whelenizer)

I’ve brought this rifle back into the rotation with a couple of key changes. First off, this is my test bed for trying a 200 grain cast lead bullet. The bullet is from and RCBS FN-200-GC using an BHN 14.5 alloy. I powdercoated these and used aluminum gas checks. I got the best accuracy and most consistent velocity with 43 grains of H4895 and CCI Large Rifle Magnum primers. The velocity is more like a 35 REM, but I doubt I would take a shot over 100 yards with it anyway. The big plus is recoil went down– I’d say below 30-06 levels.

I will carry this rifle later on in the season, maybe if I take a walk in the woods or up in one of the stands. With that in mind, I took of the 3x-9xX40 and put a 1.5-4.5X40 Bushnell Dusk-to-Dawn scope. I’d shied away from these scopes starting about a decade ago. There was not enough eye-relief on them to take a quick snap shot. The new iteration of this scope is a vast improvement, and it, like the other D-to-D scopes add a lot of valuable shooting time. If it rains, I’ll use this instead of the Savage 99 up in the stand.

Custom Mauser , 25-06

This is going on season #3 for this rifle. It has a shorter LOP than the others. I will put this into the rotation after it gets cold and I have to add a layer or two. My 25-06 loads (117 grain Hornady SP’s over H4831sc) have negligible recoil.

Marlin 1894 , .357 Magnum

This is one of those ideas that looks good on paper, but. . . we’ll see. I got this rifle in a trade with SuperCore. I mounted a Williams Firesight on the receiver. My eyes are getting old and the factory iron sights just were not cutting it. This is another testbed for my cast lead bullet project. In this case, I am using 158 grain Lee GC’s and then powdercoating the bullets. They sit on top of a hefty load of H110. I’m sure that I can take a deer inside 50 yards with the rig. If am out hiking during season, I’ll carry it and just see what happens. It would also be good to carry if I’m out tracking and need to put in a finisher.


Mosin Nagant M44, 7.62X54R

This has become Angus’ choice for the woods. He’s shooting a 180 grain Speer over H4895. It has worked for him twice in prior years.

Winchester 670, 30-06

This is the second year in Angus’ hands. I put one of those Bushnell Banner 3-9×40 on it, and he loves it for his longer shots. He’s got a buck patterned in a back corner of one of the pastures, and is anticipating a 150 yard shot on the Opener.


My hunting buddy, SuperCore, is coming out with two old favorites,  a Weatherby Vanguard, and a Remington 7400, both in 30-06. He shoots either 165 grain or 180 grainers depending on the mood.  I mounted a new Bushnell Banner 3-9×40 on the 7400 this year and got rid of the see-thru mounts.  The new blind I built for him may require some longer shots, but he’s ready for it.


New blinds for 2015

We have new hunting venues at camp this year.  I thought you would like to see some pictures.


SuperCore had open heart surgery over the summer, so he’s not quite ready for the long treks out to the Jagendehutte. I remedied the situation by building a blind out of 2X4 and the cap off the old S10. It overlooks Skunk Hollow from the other side and cuts SuperCore’s morning walk in half. The 2X4’s are pretty self-explanatory from the photo. The S10’s fiberglass top fit on top of a 2X2 rail on inside and clamps on just like it did on truck. I cut a 8X10 camo tarp from Harbor Freight and banged on a few extra grommets. Those panels attach to the side of the blind with clothes line and electrical ties. If you undo one corner of the back panel, it open up like a door.

Fountain Square:

You may remember how I bought a couple buddy style treestands from Sportsman’s Guide over the summer. I ain’t exactly crowin’ about the deal anymore. Truth is they leave a lot to be desired.

1) The ladder is about a 2/3 the width of what I expected. That makes it a bit more unstable on the initial climb. Now that it is fully installed and all the straps are tightened down, that is not so x much of a problem, but it made for a hairy first climb.

2) The shooting rail is made more for a little kid. It’s two short and does not extend out far enough for my taste. I have to duck down to get it over my head as I’m getting in.

3) My old Hunter’s View Buddy Stands are 85 lbs. I think these are 65 lbs. You can see why there is a lot more flex in these, and the tubing is of smaller diameter. This for a small Dad and a smaller kid. I’m okay by myself, but either of my kids could not have fit in there with me at age 8.

4) It has been up since September, and it is already starting to rust.

I decided to keep one stand packed up in the box. The other I deployed to within 150 yards of the house. It overlooks Fountain Square, a major crossroads on the farm, where the main N/S road joins the road going west as well as the way to the Boondocks to the north and west. Deer cross here all the time.

Blackberry :
Angus is using one of the buddy stand with only a couple of sections of ladder to exploit an island in the western pasture that adjoins The Garbage Pit. We frequently see deer out in this field. The trees were not big enough to support a 15 foot stand, but 8 feet was all he needed.


O.D. and the 2 of 7 Rule

I mentioned the 2 of 7 rule a while back. I’ve had a bunch of people ask me about it. I have to come clean. It is not my idea. It is not original. I cannot even say I fully believe it. However, I know the man who seems to have invented it. That fellow is O.D.

I have mentioned O.D. before. He’s related to O.T, my turkey hunting buddy that owns the mower shop. O.D. is one of the regulars at the store in Browningsville and I frequently find myself propping my feet up next to his, drinking the coffee Mister Browning puts out. O.D. is getting on in years. The best years of his hunting career are behind him, but he still is full of freely given advice. He holds court regularly, usually with his poodle sitting underneath his chair. The poodle is smart, perhaps somewhat smarter than some of the people who join us around the stove. O.D. tells people she’s his service dog. However, it has never been made perfectly clear exactly what service she performs. Shopkeepers and restaurant owners just let Babette come in, because they don’t want to face the consequences of tossing out O.D.’s dog. In return, O.D. does not take too many liberties with the dog. If she follows him into a diner, O.D. has her sit in the booth with him, but keeps her on the inside where she is not so obvious. Babette may get a scrap of bacon, a spare pancake or the crust off a sandwich, but it is not so you would notice. Her one true love is coffee with milk and sugar.

The other day I was down at Browning’s store listening to O.D. tell yarns. Babette was underneath O.D’s chair, coddling the new squeaky toy O.D. bought her. One of the semi-regulars was trying to get O.D. to opine on where he thought the action was going to be on The Opener.

In the oaks or out in the fields? That is the question that fascinates every deer hunter as Opening Day of Rifle Season approaches. That is one of the biggest fascinations with The Opener, and sets it aside from other major holidays. With Thanksgiving you pretty well know it’s going to be turkey for dinner. The Lions are probably going to lose at home. You pretty well know our Savior is going to rise from the dead come Easter. You don’t have to go to church to find out how the story turns out. The Opener? That is considerably different. If the acorns stay up, then the deer are in the oak groves. If it turns cold and the acorns drop early, the deer will be out in the fields munching what is left of the weeds. Everyone wants to know: In the oaks or out in the fields? It can mean the difference between a big buck on The Opener or tag soup.

So what’s it gonna be, O.D.?

O.D. really eats up the attention he gets every year. He is the great local oracle of deer hunting. Folks around these parts make the pilgrimage to visit Browning’s Store once a year, find an open metal lawn chair next to the stove and brave contact with the fickle poodle to find out where to set their stand. It is this reputation, O.D.’s perceived knowledge of deer, that keeps shopkeepers willing to put up with the dog, put up with O.D’s puckish practical jokes and put up with a fellow who never puts a quarter in the jar for coffee. O.D. is good for business, and if the dog bites you, the general consensus is that Babette had a good reason.

A semi-regular, a heavy set blow hard who wears a lot of Mossy Oak year-’round was pumping O.D. for the skinny. I came in late to the show, but I could tell immediately what was going on. O.D. was doing his best to ignore him, preferring to take in deep inhalations and remarking how good it smelled to have a wood fire in the stove again.

“So, I’ve been seeing deer on my Trail-Cam like crazy, O.D. Is that a good sign or what?”

“That depends, Dick.” said O.D. ” The blowhard’s family name is one of those that you’d least like to match up with the name “Dick.” Out of sympathy, most people have always called him Richie. However, O.D. always calls him Dick and has done so since Richie was in High School. For anyone else, that would be cruel. With Richie, it is just accurate. “That could be good news, and might not.” You could tell O.D. was playing with him.

“I put out a corn pile.”

“That may not work this year.”

“Why not?”

“It’s hard to say.” said O.D. “Dick, how often do you see those deer on your camera?”

“Oh, I’ve got pictures from them most days. It takes good pictures at night.”

“And that’s when you’ll see those deer most nights.” said O.D. “You probably won’t see them coming to that pile during the day.”

“I’ve got a food plot out too.”

“That may be good.” said O.D. “Then again. . .”

“It’s the acorns, ” said Richie. “I learned that from you. They won’t come out in the fields if there’s acorns dropping.”

“Look, ” said O.D. “I’m going to set you right, Dick. You got all these ideas about deer, and you think I’ve got all these ideas about deer, and I’ll tell you one idea that takes all the other ideas about deer and throws them in the ash bin. ” O.D. kicked the ash bin for emphasis.



We were all sitting up. Even I could not help it. It was enough to get Babette a bit riled and she started to growl. You did not want to upset Babette. O.D. might get the idea that Babette was in a bad mood and decide to take her home. Once the growling started, you needed to take that as a cue and chill out. Even Richie knew not to make Babette growl.

“So what is it?” asked Richie. O.D. responded by making another deep inhalation, and smiling as if he had just sampled a vintage wine.

“That’s a really good smell.” said O.D. “I’ve really missed that.” We then watched O.D. settle down and stare at the fire blankly. I could tell that we’d been had. O.D. had built us up for a big revelation and then let us down. This was theater, and we were being put on by an old man and a poodle. Just about the time the youngest among us were starting to fidget, O.D. released the tension. “Have I ever told you about 2 of 7?”

The answer is an emphatic “Yes.” However, nobody wants to answer, because it won’t change things. When 2 of 7 gets mentioned, you know that is going to be the text of the sermon. Some unbelievers get up and get some more coffee, or check their watch and decide they had an appointment. 2 of 7 is one topic that you cannot get O.D. to discuss if he does not wish it, and you cannot get him off of it if he has a mind to speak it. It is his one unshakable belief beyond the certainty of the Resurrection. Me? I always like to listen when it comes up. You can tell O.D. really thinks a lot about his pet theory, and there is always something new added, something old deleted, something spun another way. For a dedicated deer hunter such as myself, it is like going to a Grateful Dead concert– always the same, always different.

I am not going to attempt to give you all the details of 2 of 7 Theory. A lot of them are lost on anyone who has not sat next to O.D. for a long, long time. To O.D. 2 of 7 explains everything you need to know about deer. In a gross over-simplification, 2 of 7 comes down to the propensity of deer to visit a given spot at a given time of day approximately two days in a given week. I know. That statement is too simple to give proper meaning, but you have to grasp that as truth if you are going to get anywhere in understanding O.D’s perspective on whitetail deer.

2 of 7 means if you see a buck come into a field on Saturday, and you can’t quite get a shot, don’t expect him there on Sunday. He may come any day of the week thereafter, but you won’t be there.

2 of 7 says that if you sit in the same stand, looking over the same trail for a week and you see a deer on Tuesday, but don’t get a shot, and then don’t see him again, that means you screwed up somehow and changed the deer’s mind. He’s now somewhere else, because he was due 2 of 7 days.

It goes much farther than that. 2 of 7 means a good treestand is good for deer 2 of 7 years. 2 of 7 means you get two years of drought out of every seven. It means you’ll have rain on the Opener about 2 out every 7 years, and if it doesn’t rain, it’ll even out eventually. We’re due. There is a good acorn crop about two years out of every 7. About every 2 years the acorns fail and force the deer to forage in the fields early.

O.D. will tell you the reason for 2 of 7 is that it is precisely the ratio that creates the greatest frustration in Man. The Almighty, therefore, puts it into everything so that Man does not get to feeling too uppity. 0.285714 is not quite 1 in 4 and not quite 1 in 3, and even though it repeats it does so with a clumpy rhythm.

2 of 7 grates on a contemporary man’s vision of the world. If it does not grate on yours, that’s okay. It grates on mine. It should not be that way. Still, I’ve been at this over 35 years, and I can think of exactly less than a dozen times it rained Opening Weekend. Go figure. I’ve also caught myself making excuses to myself for not seeing deer based on the 2 of 7 rule. It’s an infectious idea– enough that one of the Baptist deacons felt moved to decry it in open church a few Novembers ago, claiming that it was a sinful attempt to short circuit our relationship with Christ. O.D. laughed when he heard the account, and said the deacon needed to learn more about electrical theory before he used the terminology so wildly.

Of course 2 of 7 is a gross over-simplification, but O.D. is a retired electrical engineer who was taught Physics before Relativity became a regular course of study. He still operates on the idea of the grand Newtonian World Machine, a clockwork Universe where every piece fits into a grand plan of an unseen Creator. 2 of 7 kind of fits that world view. O.D. thinks 2 of 7 is an answer for everything. In a way, he might be right

If you hunt on weekends and see a deer on Saturday or Sunday, you probably won’t see him again that weekend, probably won’t see him the next weekend. Chances are the next few times that deer comes by your stand will be mid-week when you’re at the office.

If you try your best to hunt every day of the week, but miss that one day to take the wife into town to shop– that’s the day the deer comes back.

Start watching a field. How often do the same deer come out to browse forbs. Usually you have a good spot if the deer are regularly there two days a week. “But wait!” you say. “I see deer every night in this one field.” Wait. There’ll be days they miss. They’ll go off and eat somewhere else. If you see the same deer every day for a while, they’ll start missing sooner or later and by the end of the month it will be 2 of 7.

So Richie is sitting there next to O.D. lapping this all up for the better part of an hour. He thinks he has found the Secret of the Universe. Coming from O.D., you can see where the uninitiated might get that idea. O.D. kept the poor fellow on gut hooked and line for quite a while, before cutting him off, a lot the way you might cut the line on a snagged-up catfish.

“. . .Or not.” said O.D. “It just might be all a pile of manure. I’m just an old man who can only count to seven.”

“No! No!” Richie replied, “So how does this all figure into whether the deer will still be in the acorns on the Opener?”

“2 of 7 ” replied O.D. “Dick, if the acorns were good last year, they probably won’t be so hot this year, but then again. . . you never know.” As he said that, O.D. looked at his watch and decided it was time to get home to Charlotte. He snapped his fingers under the chair and Babette got up and trotted out behind him to his truck. He left us to ponder his pontification. We always do. Even saying O.D. is right, that it really is just manure, only fans the flames on 2 of 7. 2 of 7, therefore has a life of its own around Browningsville. I caught Richie counting on his fingers after O.D. left.


My little Camper

I’m staying home from camp this weekend to do a big project for work.  However, I’ll have lots of downtime in between tasks.  I’ll probably get a haircut after the sun comes up.  It is giving me time to get caught up on my work here.  I found there were two articles that never got finished, so I will have to just combine them into one, as they both concern my granddaughter, Mooselette.

Back in June, Mooselette came for a visit to the farm. It was late at night when she showed up on Friday.  We still had to pitch a tent for her. She waited patiently and then crawled in and went to sleep.  Saturday came and went without a hitch. At her regular bed time, she asked father Moose to take her to her tent. Sunday came and we went for a hike to watch turkeys and such, and then helped out with breaking camp.  It was then I realized that my granddaughter had inherited the camping gene.  She gets it.

Over the summer, I bought her a tent of her own– a little umbrella design that sets up quickly.  She already had a bag and other stuff.  On a perfect night in late September. Grandpa and Grand-Mooslette had their first camp out together.   Well, that’s how it was conceived anyway.  However, the rest of the tribe thought our campsite in the backyard was too cool to pass up, so up until dark we had visitors.  Finally everyone went to bed, and we crawled in to our tents and went to sleep.