It was the third weekend in October, and the boys and I went to Camp F-Troop for the muzzleloading doe hunting season. We all arrived on Friday afternoon and brought our gear inside and started to get ready for the hunt. The in-line muzzle loader is not as complex as the more primitive flintlock option, but there is still a lot of work to do to prepare, gather materials, and prepare weapons, ammo, and miscellaneous things. We were all aware that since neither of us was an archery hunter, this would be our first deer hunt of the year, and it would kick off a 2 month effort after white-tailed deer until first third of December. Deer hunting is always at the center of our concerns at this time of year.
Digital was the first hunter to leave camp on Saturday morning at 6:00 a.m., followed shortly after by his brother Derek. They both planned to walk deep into the forest, climb a rock for a while, then come back to push the deer in the direction of us newbie hunters. Two years ago Todd was the driver, and he hit a deer in my shooting lanes 80 yards shortly after we started the hunt. I put on “reverse English” (at least that’s what I claimed) while firing my gun, and the deer immediately fell, rolled down the hill and came to a stop just 10 yards away. on front of me. We were all hoping for that kind of luck (skill?) Again this year.
I hiked a mile on the fire trail and then started to climb up to the place for the money opening, located on a house-sized rock protruding from the side of the mountain, so that you can easily climb to the back of the rock, come out to the edge and order – from a height of thirty feet – an entire hollow that extends from Thomas Run down to the line peak well above. We like to hunt our male opening points at the start of the season, such as muzzle feeder and bear season, to familiarize ourselves with our hunting areas and see how many deer roam there.
I got to my rock around 8:30 am and set up my little campfire seat, relaxed and looked around. It was just beautiful. I could see 200 yards to the trout stream and another 200 yards to the saddle on the plateau. The weather was cloudy with a chance of rain, around 50 degrees and no wind at all. As I gazed at the autumn leaves on the deciduous trees around me, I saw nothing moving in the breeze and heard nothing around me. For hunters like us, who feast on climbing mountains and watching game on an outdoor rock bench, it doesn’t get much better.
And then it got better. I heard a twig snap somewhere in the hollow, and I looked in that direction. Nothing, nothing, something. A brown spot appeared 75 meters away and materialized in the head and front legs of a deer. The animal moved slowly through the trough until, about 60 yards away, I could see it, its head, legs and body, and it was climbing straight up on me. It looked like a good-sized antlerless deer, and I felt my body tensing in anticipation. Then, a few seconds later, I saw something else, another deer, 10 meters behind. I stared at them both, my hunter body at attention, ready to act.
At 50 yards, I could see the rack on the second deer, certainly a buck, and not eligible for hunting on this strictly antlerless day. I focused on the first deer now and thought I saw something on its head. It was two small tip woods, and I knew a shot was out of the question.
They went up slowly, making little noise in the great hushed forest. It was me and my gun and the 2 young males that I was forbidden to shoot, but I still watched the deer approach. 25 meters now, and they were heading straight for me on the rock, every step was a thing of precision and beauty, but they didn’t see me, didn’t hear me, didn’t feel me. I sat frozen in my camp chair and watched, fascinated. The second deer was a young fork horn, perhaps a year before it was legal game during male season.
And now the deer were within 20 yards. I saw the shade of color on their skins, the shape of their mighty paws, the white coloring on their necks and bellies, their inquiring eyes that couldn’t see me. and now 10 meters away I see them at a distance where you hardly ever see a wild animal in the forest. They are just below me on the rock and keep going up. The point moves just above my level at the top of the rock. The fork horn moves exactly level with me and becomes stiff as he looks me in the eye. He trots up the slope, the point follows, and in an instant they are gone.
And now I’m sitting alone in the forest, feeling the touch of nature, remembering the 2 deer that came so close and slipped away, leaving the woods, still and silent, behind.
DON FEIGERT is the Outdoors Writer for The Herald and the Allied News. His latest book, The F-Troop Camp Chronicles, and his previous books are available by contacting Don at 724-931-1699 or [email protected] Browse her website at www.donfeigert.com Or visit Leanna’s Books at the mall.