Friday, January 2, 2009

Catch and release

Today I went deer hunting. Most likely for the last time this season. I have two tags left for antlerless only in eastern Iowa. My favorite place to hunt is my MIL farm.
Yesterday I went to hunt but when I got ready to leave the house, I discovered that I didn’t have my tags with me. So I ended up gathering more wood from trees we cut down in November. I also dragged back two trunks and cut them up for wood later and loaded the truck. When I got home I found my tags and decided to try again today.
Today, I got a late start. It seems I was tired and, when I woke up, sore. When I got to the farm I dressed in my cold weather clothes and started to my favorite stands. Oddly enough, one of my favorite places is right up at the top of the hill across the creek from the house. I walked up the hill as quietly as I could and as I came to the crest I slowed down and caught my breath. As I took a couple more steps and noticed that the tree stump at the top of the hill had ears. Then I noticed that a young buck with one antler looking at me. Then another. Incredibly enough, there was a second buck beside the first, looking away, that also only had one antler. The first buck was a small bodied fork buck. The second buck was a large bodied deer that would have been a respectable 8 point if he had both antlers. As I studied all three deer through the scope on my rifle I knew that I only had a tag to legally take one deer, the one behind the stump. I took a minute to take out my range finder and distance the deer. 90 yards. I waited a bit longer hoping that the deer with no antlers would stand up so I could see if he was worth harvesting.
After a while I began to get cold. I decided to whistle to get their attention. So far, they had been oblivious to my presence. Once I whistled, they all looked at me a bit more concerned. The fork buck stood up and a forth buck stood up and walked into sight. This deer was huge. A massive body with a small basket rack. As I scoped him I really wished I had a buck tag that I could fill. He stood to the south of me, slightly uphill. He wasn’t worried, just curious. I held my cross hairs on him admiring the size of his chest and neck. Not much of a rack, but what a body! (hmm, as I type that, I realize it may have sounded odd)
By now all four are standing wondering what to do. The deer with no antlers has a pretty small body. I pass on the little deer. I bring the gun down and wave to the guys. That gets them moving.
I glassed them all, crosshairs on every one, and passed on the opportunity. Catch and release.

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