Thursday, October 04, 2007

Hot Weather & Slow Deer Action

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It was 85 degrees outside, and I was sitting in a ground-level coop. The inside of the coop was painted black, and it felt like a Swedish sauna with hot rocks and someone pouring buckets of cold water to create more steam.

The coop windows were closed to prevent any human scent from drifting out, and it was so quiet I could hear myself sweat. It felt like it was 100 degrees or more inside the coop, and I’m wondering if Ma Richey didn’t raise a stupid son. It seems like only a fool would hunt on a night like this.

Soon a doe fawn wandered by, nibbled brassica and clover in front of my coop, and I watched the little doe feed off to my left and out of sight. Ten minutes later a doe and button-buck stepped out, and followed in the same tracks that were made by the doe fawn.

The doe stopped where the fawn had fed, and she ate a small snack and I drew down on her without shooting. She moved off, and the button-buck, almost the same size as his mother, stopped to grab a snack before they too moved off across the green field and into the woods.

Two hours passed before I caught some movement through my Bausch & Lomb binoculars, and zeroed in on a six-point buck with white antlers. He had stepped out of the woods, darted into tall grass, and headed my way. He weaved in and out of sight, disappearing like a magician’s rabbit, only to pop out again. He moved to within 15 yards of where the other deer had stopped to feed, but stayed in the tall grass.

He lifted his head high into the air, the white antlers gleaming in the golden glow of the sunset, as it tried to sniff out danger. He looked toward my coop, and seemed to ignore it while he checked the vicinity for danger. Satisfied, he stepped out to feed a bit where the other animals had stopped.

The window was eased open while he was still in the tall weeds, and the wind was in my face and felt cool. The buck stopped broadside to me, and dropped his head to feed. I aimed, and backed off, giving this buck his life. He wandered off and a few wild turkeys came clucking and muttering as they moved to a nearby hill and stood there for several minutes.

They were waiting for the boss bird to take flight, and then came the whooshing sound of giant wings grabbing air as they launched their heavy bodies up toward their roost tree. It isn’t far away, and I could hear a few branches break as they landed on large limbs. Their day was done, as was mine, and I began readying my gear for the walk out to the car.

It was a slow night in this location, and much of it could probably be attributed to the 85-degree temperatures, warm southeast winds, and an absence of any breeze during the last 30 minutes after sundown. I felt good about giving the antlered buck his life and freedom, and hope he makes it until next year when he’ll be a larger buck.

Hopefully by then he will learn to stay bedded down in the sweltering heat, and knowing that, I can sit out some of the day in an air conditioned office and then hunt in 60-degree weather. One can always hope, can’t we?

Posted by Dave Richey on 10/04 at 07:57 PM
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