Deer season is upon us – the firearms portion, that is. Here in Missouri, the full season only lasts 10 days. Then I think there’s another 10-day season for doe, and then another for muzzleloaders. Archery season is long. But firearm season: 10 days.
Now I’m all for hunting as a skill; archery requires this of a man. But we could really use the meat, and archery is less of a sure thing than my Ruger 7mag. So yesterday morning, as the firearms season made its grand entrance, Taylor and I stealthily entered the woods to see what we could bring home.
The weather was merciless – in the 40s, somewhat windy, and cloudy (so no warming sun). I sat at the back of our property (a rectangular 43-acre strip of rugged rocks and hill-country and creek beds) in a 12-foot deer stand we had commandeered (someone apparently used to hunt out here, and they left a few tree stands for us) and repaired. I arrived at the stand at about 6:15AM, bundled up, camoed out, and all geeked about the possibility of a kill.
For the first 3 hours, I saw absolutely nothing save a few annoying squirrels and birds, and a trespasser using a trail on our property to get to a hunting spot on another property (where he allegedly had permission to hunt). Flashback to The Most Dangerous Game.
It was sickeningly cold – the sun offered me no warmth, but only a dim light in the oak grove where I sat. For the first couple of hours, shots rang through the valleys as other hunters claimed their kills. Then the shooting tapered off, and I sat in shivering silence. At around 9:15AM, I had nearly resolved to give up for the morning, and head back to the house. But I remembered that Taylor and I had agreed to stay in our stands until 11:00AM, or until we shot something, and I could just hear him saying “You know as soon as you left your stand, a monster buck came walking right up to where you’d been.” So I let patience have its victory, and renewed my determination to get a deer.
No more than 15 minutes later, a 9-point buck walked into the clearing where I sat – maybe 50 yards away. I checked his antlers through my scope (Missouri law forbids shooting a deer that doesn’t have at least 4 points on one side) – everything looked good, so I quickly lined up a shot and pulled the trigger.
He jumped, and began to run; I wondered how I could have possibly missed him. I chambered another round. But he only traveled about 20 yards before he fell, rolled over a couple of times, and died. Success.
Then came the misery. In my inexperience, I was neither knowledgeable enough, nor equipped enough to field dress him before dragging the carcass back to the house to skin and muscle him out. So I lugged all of his big body through the woods, up and down hills, across creeks, up the far-too-steep hill to our house. Not far into my trek, Taylor found me and came to my aid. Together we finally brought the old boy home.
After a quick online brush-up on deer-cleaning procedure, I veritably got ‘er done. We cleaned, sliced, and packed the meat, while Tool-Cat chewed the extra scrap bits.
Thanks to our good God for a great day, a word of patience, a kill-shot, and a freezer with plenty of meat in it.