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Fast Deer Hunt January 2015
Gerhard Schroeder  

He was only a spike. Seemingly, there was still plenty of time. This hunt wasn’t even 20 minutes old. I had parked the Toyota, packed all kinds of gear for an all-day trip, and headed for the hills. My feet carried me along with an inner smile. I was hunting!

The morning had barely begun, and on my drive in while still a good four miles from our hunt unit, the 4Runner almost connected with a fine 3-point mule deer. And his ‘brother’ was feeding just off the pavement as well.

Now, during the initial moments of real hunting, light was marginal. Even so, just moments from the Toy, in between the junipers, I made her out. She made me even sooner from over 200 yards away. View through the 10x42 Kahles confirmed her as a doe, with offspring close by. I scanned, found no others, no head gear, and continued on. That made her blow obvious discontent, and both wasted no time increasing the distance between us. Always a joy to see deer; much more so on a deer hunt.

Not more than a quarter mile later I noticed something white on the hill side, again amongst fairly thick juniper cover. The binos again provided clarity. The ‘something white’ was the south end of another doe, and below her another face staring at me, also without head gear. Scanning detected doe number three. Then the spike stepped out.

None of the four seemed alarmed. Not even close. They all continued with breakfast. I did look for more, for a bigger boy. Now none were visible to me, as their feeding activity moved them behind vegetation again. Yes, it was the first part of the first hour of the first day of the 2014 season. Yes, he was only a spike. But he was what I came here for, any antlered deer. The freezer at home was almost empty. The decision to take the Tikka into both hands came easily. And with that, the accelerated heart beats.

The deer were still hidden. Time to glance ahead, left, right. Nothing anywhere close enough to offer any type of rifle rest. Prone was out, too, because thanks to decent rains within the last month the grass was quite tall. The distance to where spikey had just been seemed like a little shy of two hundred steps. The scope’s dial went to 6x. When he entered the next clearing, the crosshairs sought his boiler room.

A little more pressure and the still of that morning was briefly but fiercely undone. What came back I did not especially like, even though the buck stumbled and appeared to go down. It was an unusually hard bullet impact noise. None of the does fled. I cycled the bolt, caught and saved the empty .308 case, waited. Silence was totally restored. After a few minutes I advanced towards where the buck had been. That cleared out the ladies. When I got within about ten steps he tried to get up again, needed one through the neck. I had my muley. First shot had gone very ugly, 150 grain Nosler E-Tip through both hams. Can’t say why, suspect it was the excitement of the hunt. I tagged him, did the red work. Then the real labor began.

To have the benefit of shade, I opted to drag him under taller trees, a couple hundred yards away. That drove sweat. But once there, the lower temperatures paid off as I skinned him, then separated all four legs and hung them on broken-off branches. De-boning back straps, neck and ribs was next. After that I went back and retrieved liver and heart.

While the meat continued to cool, I returned to the vehicle and traded gun, binos, backpack, etc. for a small folding table, wash tub and saw. Returning to the deer I de-boned the legs, prepped the head for European mount. Before 11:30AM all boneless cooled meat was in my ice chest, with plenty of frozen ice bottles on top. Daniel and Ron, who due to some obligations had left home late that opening day, met up with me at a pre-arranged location a little after noon. Except, my hunt was long done.

To make it short, neither of them ever saw any antlers all weekend long, except that Friday evening, in the headlights, as we drove to our camp site. We called that spike “crooked horn”, because one of his antlers had been hurt and was growing towards his nose. Never met that buck again during daylight hours. Then Ron and I hunted all day from dark to past dark on the last day of the season, and did not even see a deer.

Thank God for my spike

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