It was the coldest Opening Weekend ever for the Shamanic Dream Team. The temperature was hanging aruond 24F when the light came up, but there had been a good deal of action at my stand at Campground before that. I had heard a group of doe, probably being chased by a young buck come down through Soggy Bottom, just below my stand, but it was too dark to see. Over at the Blackberry Patch, Angus had been watching a young doe feeding just beneath his stand, and been contemplating a shot on her when a big 8-pointer came crashing out of the cedars.
0645 was the official beginning of legal hunting . There must have been a fellow watching his watch, for at the very second, a shot occured. There was another much farther away and at 0648, I heard my old Winchester boom out from out across Virginia. That was Angus taking the earliest buck in camp history. It was what happened after the shot that made this one most remarkable. When hit, the buck ran back into the cedars only to emerge a bit later, closer to the stand. The doe, meanwhile, kept at the salad bar and refused to move or even acknowledge the carcass close by. Angus had to shoo her off before getting down.
Over at the Jagende Hutte, SuperCore was seeing a few doe, a couple of small forkers and such– nothing worth shooting. At 0813, as I had counted the 203rd shot string of the morning, SuperCore took a shot at an 8 pointer in Dead Skunk. The shot must have gone wild, for SuperCore and Angus searched for sign in the Hundred Acre Wood for an hour and could find none.
The Grand Fusilade had commenced. It was particularly intense this year. I recorded well over 2.5 shot strings per minute into the 9 O’Clock hour, and it increased to 3 in the next hour. When Angus was done with his chores at the meatpole and SuperCore was back in, I finally relented and came out of my stand. I had spent the previous hour watching two doe munching away in the Garden of Stone. I had waited patiently for a decent buck to visit them, but it just was not going to be. I walked out that way towards a rendevous with Angus at Point Victor. The field where the doe had been was well littered with deer turds. The Garden of Stone was going to be a good spot again this year.
We rode Angus’ buck into Lenoxburg and ate lunch there. Opening Day at Lenoxburg has always been a highlight of the local social season, but the new owners have really kicked it up a notch by adding the restaurant in the back. Bucks were stacked like cord wood. It was like Christmas in Camo. By the time we got back to camp it had warmed considerably. Our afternoon hunt started out with the temperature close to 50F– downright balmy compared to the deep freeze from 12 hours earlier.
I went out to Hollywood for the afternoon hunt. SuperCore went out early. Angus stayed back and napped. At 1700, another shot from Angus’ 30-06 brought his season to a close. He had found the doe from earlier in the day back munching away in the same spot and shot her. All told, with two sits under his belt, Angus had tagged-out for the season with less than a half-hour’s worth of hunting.
SuperCore and I had nothing worth shooting come by. I bounced two does that were feeding to the east of Hollywood on my in. They came back a bit later. One hung around until after dark. I had the Mauser From Hell out. The doe had no idea how many times I counted coup on her in my scope. However, it became nothing more than a nice, warm sit.
Sunday started with the promise of rain. Angus stayed in. He was tagged out. SuperCore was ready for action. I was hoping for a nice quiet trip out to Midway to watch the doe act as bait and read the Farmer’s Almanac. Sure enough, the small herd of doe that frequent the Garden of Stone were already chowing down when I put the awning up and closed the curtains. They were there most of the morning. After 0800, there was a ruckus when a coyote chased three doe out of Left Leg Creek into the Garden and this caused all the deer to flee in unison. The coyote came around the other side of Midway, and I could not whirl around fast enough for a shot. I was alone for a while until the doe started to filter back into the field again.
This is a common theme this year. I have seen this building since August. I have never seen deer so intent on feeding. My surmise is the general failure of the acorn crop has forced them back out into the pastures to feed. They have not been able to put on sufficient weight, and they are working overtime to feed themselves. There was a short period of time where the field was empty, and I decided to pay the rent on the coffee. Rather than bother with the relief tube, I whizzed out the south window. It was 0900.
I had just gotten to the part of the ‘Almanac where the editors were making their predictions about kit-based Thanksgiving meals when one of the doe from earlier emerged from the woods on my blind side and stuck her head into the south window. This is yet another time where urinating off the stand or out of the blind seems to have attracted deer. I bid the doe a good morning, and she went off flicking her tail happily. She was about 60 yards away on my downwind side when she suddenly looked up and looked back my way. She became nervous and suddenly broke into a trot that took her back towards the Garden.
About 5 minutes later, the reason for her discontent showed up. He was a big, brute of a buck with a ten-point rack and an attitude. He strolled out less than 20 yards from the blind and eyed me through the curtain. He curled his lip to savor the local aroma. I’m not sure if it was the doe’s or mine. His attention seemed to turn back to the doe, so I brought up the Ruger Hawkeye and put a round downrange for effect. The buck ran off and I saw him stagger a bit as he bounded the fence at the edge of the field about 80 yards away. It did not take me long to find him. He had piled up 10 yards into the woods.
Angus left the comfort of his recliner and risked blood stains on his traveling clothes to drive the truck out for a pickup. I used a rope tied to the Silverado to drag the buck into the field and got him loaded with ease with the help of the Elevator. Back at camp, I had the buck gutted and back in the truck by the time SuperCore made it out. We rode into Lenoxburg with our 3rd deer in under 24 hours.
Upon our return, the S-10, der Hirschwagen, had a dead flat. Angus stayed around long enough to see that resolved and then returned home to Cincinnati. SuperCore went back out to the Jagendehutte, while I tidied up around camp. I had just laid down for a nap when SuperCore shot, and I knew I would shortly get a call for a pickup.
This was a bit more than the usual deer run. SuperCore had shot the 8-pointer (same one possibly?) at 150 yards at the head of Dead Skunk Hollow after it had emerged from the Hundred Acre Wood. The buck had responded by bounding down into Dead Skunk. SuperCore had driven down there on his ATV, but had not found the buck. It didn’t take me long to find a pool of blood in the creek bottom where the buck had stood for while until the ATV’s arrival. He had then walked off to the east, into the densest cedar thicket on the property. I had given up going in there a decade ago– just too dense. However, in the succeeding years, it had begun to age and open up, at least enough for an adult buck to make it through. The blood trail was pretty evident. I found the buck piled up about 50 yards in and 50 yards down from the treeline looking out into the Jagendehutte. SuperCore got the S-10 down to the closest entry point, and I ran the winch downhill and with the addition of rope, we were able to get the buck out of the woods just as the rain was beginning to start in earnest at 1700.
I called Lenoxburg. Yes, they were still taking in deer, but I needed to hurry. SuperCore did a speed-gut on the pole and off we went. We were back in the house by 1830 and enjoyed a rugged happy hour on the front porch with biting wind-blown drizzle.
"Deer Opener 2017",