We had a hearty second breakfast and then headed out to the stand at Heartbreak Ridge, stayed for a couple of hours, heard nothing, saw nothing. Along about 1 PM we headed in for lunch and a nap. The deer we had seen in the morning had been grazing directly in front of our hunting blind up on Gobbler’s Knob. We arrived there around 3:30 and lazed around until about 5:30. #2 has been doing a lot of napping lately– must be going through a growth spurt.
#2 caught the first sign of the deer. Two doe came out by the barn. We watched as they held on the edge of the pasture, deciding which way to go. This was going to be #2’s first, and he’s had a bunch of close calls over three years. I did not want this one to slip away. When the does decided to start grazing away from us, I told him to get the best shot he could on the second doe coming into the field. I was glassing her. He started a countdown. The shot was going to be a broadside at 80 yards.
I had never had a problem with shooting inside the blind. As long as you stick the barrel of the rifle far enough out the hole, the percussion is fairly mild. However, this shot was angled heavily, and my head was just about in line with the muzzle, separated by only one thickness of T1-11 siding. The blast knocked me off my stool, and made my left ear useless for a while. When I recovered, all I could see were two doe running back the way they came at high speed.
My son’s recount was not heartening. The second doe had gone down like a stone on the shot. In a couple of seconds, however, she had gotten back to her feet and bounded off seemingly unharmed. I started thinking a graze to the back.
We scoured the patch of field where the doe had been standing and the place where she had re-entered the woods. Nothing. The path she had taken indicated that she was heading down a side gulley into Hootin’ Holler. John wore himself out, crisscrossing the gulley . We covered that inch by inch and then brought in Barney the Wonder Dog. If you tell Barney there’s a dead deer to be found, he usually finds it. Nothing. Finally, as it started getting dark, I set off with Barney down Hootin’ Holler. Barney stayed honest for the first few hundred yards, but the further we got, the more I could see he was now just following backtrails and guessing. I finally called for the truck to meet us out at Heartbreak Ridge.
Poor #2 dragged himself off to bed immediately after dinner and cannot be raised this morning. Barney was spent. I don’t think he made it off the couch the rest of the night. I’m ready to go, but as the light comes up on Sunday morning, I find I have nothing to hunt with, and no one go with me. I will probably get on my brush pants and head off for that gulley again.