So, the conclusion of my mule deer hunt went something like this.
A day late and a storm short. Yes it's true that I missed my 4 x 4 Muley buck by perhaps only a day. Returning to Lowlands on Sunday afternoon with the season ending in 3 days I found the bucks tracks on a low road in the pummy dust. Still well defined after being driven over once from someone earlier in the day. No doubt the buck was wise from all the activity of waterfowls opener the previous weekend. Not only that but he was making himself scarce as he seemed to saunter through the area under the secured veil of darkness. I spent the last few days of the season glassing the predawn landscape for any irregularities. Hiking slowly and being as thorough as I knew how to be in picking apart the landscape in hopes of finding the big 4 x 4 bedded down amongst the rocky outcroppings and brush covered hillside. It was not to be this year for either of us. Though he had busted me on opening morning I was unable to return the favor. I chuckle in hopes that the young forked horn he has with him, will once again prove to be the sacrificial buck as was the case last year. I keep my fingers crossed that he and I may find each other a year from now and continue our dance. I tip my hat to him and thank him for the schooling which he has given me this season. I enjoyed the chase and am already looking forward to next season. After all, the hunt is in the pursuit.
Even though I was unable to harvest my buck I still managed to get some time waterfowl hunting with Jet. During the mid day we walked the ditches and jumped ducks and even a few pheasants. Jet was more than ready to get out and stretch her legs after being cooped up in the cabin while I was deer hunting.
The duck season opened up with a pair of Mallards jumping out of a ditch. I shot one of each sex and then repeated the same not more than a 1/4 mile further. All 4 ducks were adults and quite fat with beautiful plumage. Jet made the retrieves at her typical pace and I was pleased with our success. Now I had to be careful not to shoot anymore hen Mallards, as 2 are the daily limit. Fortunately that was not a problem as the majority of ducks we jumped were Gadwalls. Some of the ditches are fairly steep and difficult to get a start up for Jet, so I had to meet her upon her return at the waters edge and give her a push up the steep banks. She is such a trooper and waits for me to get to her before starting to get out of the water. That's a smart and efficient dog if you ask me. Her hind end has lost some muscle over the past few years and I am glad to give her a boost up. She won't give me the bird til she gets to the top of the dike. That was a lesson learned due to several lost birds as a result of her not delivering to hand when she was young. She used to set them down before she reached me at the top of the dike, so she could shake off the water. Now she waits and shakes after her delivery. To her I say thank you every time and give her lots of loving!
The conditions on our last afternoon hunt were extremely windy. With constant 15 to 20 mph winds the ducks were looking for protected areas. They were now being pushed off the large bodies of water where they were safe.That meant the ditches perpendicular to the wind were just what the ducks were looking for. Jet and I set out for our hunt and we had several ducks in hand after walking a short distance. The wind was so strong it was difficult for Jet to hear me giving her directions. There was still one bird left to be recovered that landed on the other side of the dike in the tules. So we walked down one side of the dike where we crossed over and returned to where the downed bird was. After a short search Jet found the drake Gadwall in the tules next to the Klamath River. The rain was on its way as we came to the end shooting time. We had a nice mixed bag of upland and waterfowl, just didn't get the venison.
After 2 days of afternoon duck and pheasant hunts we had garnered 11 downed ducks and recovered 10. For Pheasants we were able to get 2, and I also shot my first ever Blue Winged Teal. A beautiful mature female with quite a fat layer on her. Jet made consistent retrieves and took hand signals when needed. We had a great waterfowl opener which partly made up for the deer hunt. I was happy to be bringing some meat home for the freezer, finally.
I am also getting ready for my controlled rifle elk hunt which starts the end of October and goes through November 1st. It is a bull only hunt that John and I are doing in a new area we've yet to hunt. Will keep you posted on that one. We are running out of opportunities for putting some serious meat in the freezer. Beef is o.k. yet, it's not elk. Enough said!
Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt