I had a wonderful deer hunt this past weekend. I even surprised myself on a few counts. I left town last week having some social commitments to address before getting settled in for my deer hunt which opened on Saturday Oct. 4 th.
I had been keeping watch on 5 bucks in a specific area of southern Oregon where I also spend time waterfowl hunting. I arrived a few days early to continue scouting and to hopefully, locate the bucks. The weather turned cold, wet and windy. I was a bit worried they might leave the area in search of cover. I was in sight of them 2 days prior to opening and on Friday I never saw any of the bucks. The weather was whipping up a strong S.S.W. wind and I figured they headed for cover. I was beginning to realize how ill prepared I was for inclement weather. I didn't bring my rain gear, warm coat, fingerless gloves or a warm hat. What the heck was I thinking? I had at least washed my hunting clothes in Atsko Sport-Wash as well as sprayed them with UV Killer before I left home. So I felt confident that my clothing wasn't going to give me away. It poured most of Thursday and again on Friday. Fortunately I had some friends coming to stay with me Friday night after their sons football game, so I asked Dan to swing by my house and grab some gear for me as they departed Central Oregon for the small town of Ashland, Oregon.
Dan, Pam and their son Zac arrived late Friday night after the game. We stayed up and talked into the early morning hours. Zac and Dan filled me in on the game, and their opponents quarterback before nodding off around 1:00 a.m. I had my alarm set for 5:30 a.m. and didn't even need it. I was awake by 5 and up with coffee brewing by 5:30. Dan and I were the only ones awake and enjoying our first cup of coffee. Hell, it's not like I even needed any coffee, as I was already spinning, twittering and anxious as a fox in a hen house to get out and begin my deer hunt. I had a bite to eat as I double (quadrupled) checked that I had packed the gear I needed in my fanny pack. Dan and I chatted about past deer hunts we've had, as we anxiously waited for daylight to break in hopes that the bucks would show themselves. It was 6:50 a.m. and barely daybreak as we both strained to find the bucks in the lowlands.
"There they are," I exclaimed as calmly as is possible for me on an opening day. Dan saw them too. They were in the field beginning to move around and feed. I wanted to wait and see which direction they would commit too. Either moving to the North for protection from the strong winds or else going into the wetlands and bedding down on a grassy dike amongst the tules and long stem bulrush. I was out the door a few minutes later as they seemed to be heading into the wetlands to bed down. Dan wished me luck and was watching from the cabin using my 10 x 42 bins, while Pam and Zac were still sleeping soundly.
I layered up as best as I could and took the long way down from the hill remaining out of eye sight of the bucks. There were 2 of them, the big 4 x4 (or better) and his smaller buddy a stout (bench leg) forked horn. I worked my way down onto the lower slopes of the hill and began glassing. I saw the forked horn briefly as he followed the larger buck into the wetlands crossing 2 ditches and going out of sight. I eased my way up the hill glassing every few steps to see where they were bedding down. To no avail after an hour and a half I never did see them. Knowing full well they were in there I called Dan and asked if he saw where they went? He saw them slip away into the tules and not come out. I told him I will either take the road or go right in after them, but I wasn't sure what I was going to do yet. We hung up and I began my stalk.
I had the wind in my face from the south at about 10 to 15 mph with the occasional gust nearing 20 or more. It was perfect. The low clouds were holding back their impending showers and I was counting my blessings. I moved to where the bucks crossed the 2 ditches and made my decision to go in after them. This was going to be my best option considering how tall the vegetation was. My new Irish Setter boots were now christened, as I was wet up to my knees after crossing the ditches. There was a dike with a decent channel of water on the other side of it. I inched my way very slowly, staying at the edge of where the dike bank met the flooded marsh lowlands. I would take a few steps then look around and glass for the bucks as I headed for the area where they have bedded down before. It was just behind and off to the side of an old telephone pole on top of the dike that I was following. The distance was not more than 75 yards, yet I took my time realizing this will be my best chance, if not my only one.
It took me about 45 minutes to get within 10 feet of the telephone pole. Then the grasses, tules and bulrush were blocking my view. I sat there a minute studying the vegetation in front of me. I was thinking to myself that they have got to be right here! Moments later I saw the outline of an antler, then an ear and realized it was the forked horn. He was looking right at me, bedded down, well at least facing my direction. My heart instantly began pounding and adrenaline flooded my veins. I was kneeling, with my butt on my heels. I looked around me and realized I was at the end of my stalk. If I moved to my right the telephone pole would block my shot and if I stood to try and find the big buck I may not get a shot at all. So I rolled my safety off and made a clean shot on the forked horn. His head dropped and he died instantly. I was within 15 feet of him and neither buck heard or saw me, wow! I waited about a half minute just to make sure he was done before I got up to go to him. As I stepped into the open the big buck was still bedded til he saw me then he sprang to his feet and gave me a 1 second "buck in the headlights look" and then bolted across the ditch. Wow, he was big and knew right where to lay. His little buddy had saved his a-- this time.
I gave Dan a call and told him I had the forked horn down. He said he never heard the shot over the wind, but only saw the big buck bolt out of there. So, he and his son Zac came down and gave me a hand getting him drug out of the marsh and onto dry ground to begin field dressing him. We found a grassy slope and I began field dressing my buck. This was the first time for me to do this on my own, and I guess I fretted about it enough so that it all went without a single hitch. PHEW! Dan and Zac helped by holding the bucks legs apart which was a big help, as was their moral support. We got the buck field dressed, skinned and was done by noon.
Pam came out and watched the skinning and offered to get some coffee going. That was the best tasting cup of coffee that I've had in a long time. I was a bit chilled by the wind and if it wasn't for adrenaline, I'd have been much colder. After the buck was all taken care of we sat down to a fine brunch and recollected about the mornings adventure. I was so thrilled to have my friends there and be a part of the hunt. Memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Thanks for your help Dan, Zac and Pam, there will be some venison in your future!
Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt