Following an enjoyable – albeit unproductive – day in the woods during Monday’s opener, I set out again Tuesday morning. Where, and with whom I hunt, this day is generally reserved for organized drives because there aren’t a lot of other hunters in the surrounding woods to get deer moving for us. They are usually back at work or back at school.
On these drives strategy is pretty important. We’ve been doing them for a number of years so those of us in the group have a good idea where we need to post and which sections of woods and fields we need to hit.
On Tuesday’s first drive I had two bucks run past me less than 50 yards away. Neither were legal. Like Monday, it was the theme for the day. I saw a lot of deer (15) and bucks (5), but nothing qualified as a shooter in our Wildlife Management Unit. Also like Monday, only one fellow hunter found success. He took down a 2½-year-old 6-point that was running with a pair of does. The buck made the mistake of stopping broadside in middle of a field. Soon after, he was dressed out and cooling in the back of a pickup truck.
After the excitement of the day’s first kill, the rest of Tuesday was relatively quiet as the temperature began to rise and melt several inches of snow that had covered the ground just a day before. Late in the day, a junior hunter had a shot at a nice buck after jumping it as he was setting up to post on a drive. His shot missed cleanly, though he wasn’t aware of it at the time. During the drive he had a 4-point come into range and offer a broadside shot at 20 yards, but he wisely neglected to shoot because he wasn’t sure if he had connected with the other buck.
I worked Wednesday and Thursday before heading back out Friday. Again it was a long day of walking and posting, and again it was slow. The only true excitement came on the day’s last drive when the biggest buck I saw all week snuck through a grove of locust trees and bolted cleanly 300 yards through an open field, crossed a dirt road, through another 100 yards of scrubby landscape and finally disappeared into a tangled mess of trees that we don’t bother pushing because it’s so gnarly.
I’m not sure if he was legal, and my friend Mike who had the closest look at him wasn’t sure either. Mike saw the buck emerge from the locust trees and got his binoculars on it immediately. Snow forecasted for the day had just started to fall, making visibility less than ideal. Mike couldn’t get a good gauge on the deer, though we both agreed that its spread went outside of its ears – so he was obviously a buck none of us had seen to that point.
Chances were pretty good that he was legal, but we couldn’t verify it for sure so we both held off from shooting. We also didn’t want to risk wounding the deer and then have to track him in a rapidly increasing snowstorm.
We were also hoping he would make another appearance Saturday morning after having the night to calm down and get a good rest.