Things were slow leading into the final two days of rifle season. Few other hunters got out early in the week, and just three of us started the day Friday morning so we knew we’d be doing drives all day to get deer moving. On the first drive, a coyote ran out of heavy brush at 100 yards and booked it across a spent corn field. I missed despite getting a pretty good chance at it, and the scoundrel ended up finding the safety of its den.
I should note that my uncle Don and I were doe hunting on this day, while Mike was just looking for a buck. And, as is often the case in situations like this, all I saw during the majority of our drives were small bucks and Mike saw something like 20 does. Don saw some does too, but couldn’t get a clean shot.
We did six drives throughout the day with nothing to show for it, other than seeing several dozen turkeys and a fair number of deer. Then, just after 4 p.m., and as we were standing around the pickup discussing whether we wanted to do one more drive or quit, a group of four does ran our direction. Three cut high and stopped at a bad spot. There was nothing but horizon behind them so we couldn’t shoot. A lone deer cut down the hill, then stopped and looked at us from 125 yards away. I scoped the nice-sized doe, clicked the safety of my gun off and pulled the trigger. It clicked. She ran off, cleared a topsoil pile, and disappeared. I worked the bolt on my rifle and saw, to my embarrassment, that when I had put another shell in after firing at the coyote, the receiver didn’t catch it. There was no shell in the chamber. Fun times. We called it a day.
Saturday morning started cold and forecasters predicted a nasty snowstorm to arrive early in the afternoon. Six of us got started on drives, but nothing developed from them. A few others hunters arrived as the morning progressed. We continued, and snow started to fall as predicted. I missed a running doe that was pretty far off. On the drive after that, one of our hunters finally scored on a large doe. It’s rare that we only manage to get one deer in two days – especially when we’re targeting does – but that’s what happened.
With the snow falling steadily and the hours waning, hunters began to drop out and call it a season. At 5 p.m. sharp I did as well. It was an odd couple of weeks from a hunting standpoint. I saw more deer than ever in the six days I made it out. Lots of sub-legal bucks were running around, and only a few that were legal fell to hunters. That should be a good sign for next year. And there should be a high number of births in the spring because only a few does were brought down.
Flintlock season for deer comes in the day after Christmas and, though I won’t have as much time to hunt as in past years. I have yet to connect during what is probably my favorite season of them all because of the challenge presented by hunting with a primitive weapon. Here’s hoping for a different outcome.