VOLUME 42-----------DECEMBER 2005
SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'
WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY
December 1, 2005
Most all local big game seasons are now behind us. Rick and I hunted for elk on a couple of neighboring properties, hoping that hunting pressure on the public lands further to our north would move some animals closer to home. We hunted on two different days during the nine day season and walked many more steps than I'm accustomed to. We saw a few moose tracks and the whitetail deer were just starting to exhibit some halfhearted scrape making activity, but we saw absolutely zero elk sign.
An unusual factor in the equation this year, was the logging on one of the neighboring properties. We have a feeling that this activity, which had been ongoing for well over a month, could have caused the elk to entirely avoid the area. The logging may have been a factor in our seeing fewer mature whitetail bucks than usual during the late buck season as well.
Fewer bucks didn't mean no bucks however. On November 11th, our nine year old granddaughter Jennifer, had a school vacation day. Little heifer was on her annual downtown shopping trip with a group of lady friends, so I was daycare provider.
About midmorning, Jennifer and I ventured to our Cabella's ground blind I had set up overlooking Larry's pasture. We had a set of rattlin' antlers, a grunt tube call, and a doe bleat can call. Jennifer began banging the antlers and we suddenly had a buck cross an opening about 150 yards out and disappear behind some trees.
I did a few turns of the doe bleat can, and Jennifer started calling on the grunt tube. The first few grunts were really great, but that sound was apparently boring. Suddenly the grunt tube was making grunts to some sort of either Latin or Jazz beat, and I started laughing. Not surprisingly, we saw no more of that buck!
After a trip to Post Falls, Idaho to firm up the shooting schedule for our Hunter Education classes, Jennifer elected to watch TV instead of hunt, so I spent the evening hours watching for deer from the south deck.
Almost on cue, Bucky showed up under the plum trees. Bucky is a little six pointer. (3x3 for the natives of this area who don't know how to count points on whitetail deer) For the Ol' Hillbilly's take on the proper counting of deer antler points, see our December 2003 newsletter!
Bucky was named by Jennifer several weeks ago. She and her Dad were caring for Pearl the cat while Ann and I were on our trip to Missouri during the early deer season. Bucky would show up nearly every evening while they were here at the ranch, but he was pronounced 'off limits' by you know who!
Anyway, as I was watching Bucky, who was to the east of my position, he suddenly raised his head and stared off to the west. My attention then transferred to another little buck that was approaching slowly from the other direction.
Examination through the 8X30 Swarovski's showed another of the 'freaky' bucks that seem to show up regularly around here. This guy had a tiny four point antler on the left side, with nothing but a stubby little fork on the other! I decided that he would make a good 'meat' deer and was about to exit the gene pool!
The Remington 7MM Mag spat out a 175 grain Nosler partition, from about 110 yards. The hold felt good, the deer jumped and kicked, and moved out of sight behind a finger of trees and brush. About that time, Ann returned home from her shopping trip, and I told her we had a deer to dress.
Jennifer carried the camera and I the rifle, as we sauntered off to claim our prize. I'm glad I decided to take the rifle. As we rounded the trees the dang deer ran off across a ditch to the west. Another quick shot was a clean miss. Shot number three, dropped him in his tracks, but a close up through the neck was still required to finish the job!
To put it very kindly, my shooting was somewhat less than exemplary! The deer was apparently quartering toward me a bit more than I thought at the first shot. Consequently, the bullet only caught the rear of the ribcage, doing little damage to the vitals. This was one of those situations where the animal could have easily been lost, so we got lucky with this one.
The next chore was to get the tractor, slide the deer in the loader bucket, and transport it to the old shop building. There, on a concrete floor, is where our deer are processed. A water hose hookup and a floor drain, makes cleanup a snap after the offal is hauled away.
Earlier in the day Jennifer mentioned it would be a good idea to video our hunt, "Just like they do on the Outdoor Channel," but we 'forgot' the camera when we went to the ground blind. After taking some pictures at the kill site with the still camera, it suddenly became a 'must' for Jennifer to video the dressing of the deer!
Although she has taken a lot of photos with our digital cameras, Jennifer had never used the video camera before. (There's a whole 'nother story here, but we'll save that for another time) I do want to quote the first few sentences of her narration as the video commences.
As the camera shows me raising the deer's head from the loader bucket, the narration begins. "This is the deer that Pa Pa and Me got. Well, mostly Pa Pa. It barely has any horns!"
How's that for an ego builder? But, she was right, and here's the proof!
See, it does 'barely' have any horns
Of course, my culling of the gene pool, gives Ann and Rick an easy opportunity to best my 'trophy'. Well, Rick passed an easy opportunity for a smallish eight point, and multiple chances for fork-horns and spikes, so his meat pole remains void of venison with the season over!
Meanwhile, on Wednesday the 16th I'm messing around in the shop, when I hear a single shot from the vicinity of the house. Now, Little Heifer's rifle of choice for the late buck season is the Remington 7MM-08 that I've been puttering with for months, trying to get it to group a bit better than 2 or 3 inches.
I free floated the barrel, which helped a bit, switched scopes, which helped a bit more, and tried heavier bullets, which didn't help at all, so it still needs work. She's shooting handloads with 139 grain Hornady SST bullets, that are grouping right at two inches.
At this point I'm thinkin', "Oh crap, if she's missed a nice buck with that rifle, I may have to leave home, 'cause it'll be my fault for sure!"
Turned out, I didn't have to leave. As I rounded the corner of the shop, I could see a downed deer in the clearing north of the house. I can see an antler sticking up, but the angle is wrong and its too far away to gauge size.
I went into the house to find Ann putting on her boots to walk out to check on her prize. As she is tugging on a boot, she says, "Wow, that does kinda' get your heart beatin' faster doesn't it?"
To appreciate that statement, you need to know that this is the woman who not only makes fun of me for getting excited before and after a shot on game, but even does so with the hunters she sees on the Outdoor Channel!
But, it does tell me she must have shot a pretty nice buck!
Nice Eastern Washington Whitetail
Incidentally, I'm still hearing that same old song from Little Heifer! "How come my deer just drop in their tracks, and yours run off into the brush before they fall down?"
This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from reading one of Cowboy Poet and Humorist, Baxter Black's recent columns about 'The Code Of The West, or doin' the right thing'. In this column, Black quotes, of all things, a recent book by investment consultant James P. Owen, entitled "COWBOY ETHICS: WHAT WALL STREET CAN LEARN FROM THE CODE OF THE WEST" Owen boils down cowboy ethics to ten principles:
Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!