VOLUME 102-----------DECEMBER 2010
SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'
WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY
December 3, 2010
Yeah, I know. Late again. But this one ain't as bad as October!
Seems like I talk about snow at some point in my winter newsletters. This year I'm talking about snow a little earlier than usual! At evening news time on November 30th, it was announced that we had just established an all time record for snowfall during the month of November. The total was 25.9 inches, besting the previous 24.7 inches recorded in November 1955! Interestingly, this snow all came within the last eight to ten days of the month.
These measurements were taken by the National Weather Service at Spokane International Airport. We nearly always get more here at the ranch. Anyone want to try and convince us how beautiful this white stuff is after ten days of shoveling, pushing, plowing, and blowing it off the driveway and decks???? Didn't think so!
Surprise, surprise! This month we'll be recapping the 2010 modern firearm deer season here at the ranch.
Back in October, during the early season, Jennifer had her scope on Big Boy, a really big buck on the hill behind the house. She passed up the shot because a doe was in the line of fire directly behind him. About the time the doe moved, the buck spooked and was gone.
Big Boy had a very distinctive set of antlers, so wasn't hard to recognize on the rare occasions he was observed during legal shooting hours. He did pose for the trailcam one night.
On November 15th, with only four days left, Jennifer decided that her holdout for Big Boy would end and she shot a nice eight point standing almost in the same spot where Stringhead met his fate a month earlier.
At the shot, we again saw the typical jump and mad dash of a mortally hit animal. He ran out of sight behind a clump of fir trees, headed for the thick brush.
Rick was standing beside Jennifer helping hold her shooting sticks, and reported, " I thought I heard him crash right after he hit the brush line."
Jennifer responded, "I think I smell blood!"
This event occurred a good half hour before the end of official shooting time, but it was a cloudy, gloomy, and rainy evening, so daylight was scarce to non-existent by the time we organized the search.
About 30 seconds into our quest, as we walked up the tractor trail toward the hilltop, Jennifer pointed her flashlight at a clump of brush just off the trail and calmly announced, "There he is."
There he was, indeed. Here are some photos:
Happy deer hunter! Into the shop for gutting and skinning.
This guy went to Tim's Special Meats in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho where he will soon become jerky and smoked sausage laced with cheese and jalapeños. (Rick is a very popular contributor when they have the occasional lunchtime cookout at work.)
Jennifer again used the old Argentine Mauser that I sporterized back in the early 1960's. I cut off the buttstock to about an 11 inch length of pull to better fit Little Heifer when she began deer hunting in 1986. (Jennifer has now outgrown her Grandmother, so the stock may soon be too short for her) The old rifle is in 7x57 mm caliber shooting handloads consisting of 160 grain Sierra boattail bullets over a stiff load of H4350 powder.
This Sierra bullet is of traditional 'cup and core' construction and does a great job on whitetail sized animals. I've previously written how and why we find that this type bullet outperforms the premium, controlled expansion bullets on animals of this size, so won't belabor the point. Suffice it to say, if Jennifer hadn't spotted the buck early on in the search, the heart shot left a blood trail that would have easily led us to the deer.
A few days after Jennifer passed on the shot at Big Boy, he appeared again mid morning, scent checking some does feeding southwest of the house. Ann also had him in her sights, but this time he only presented that famous 'Texas Heart Shot.' She wisely elected not to shoot him in the butt!
Ann's patience paid off. While she didn't score with Big Boy, on November 17th she did connect with the next biggest buck we had seen on the trailcam pictures! This deer was a typical 10 point excepting a fork in the top of the G2 tine on the left antler.
I was observing with binoculars as the report of the 7mm-08 echoed through the woods. I immediately thought, "Dead deer" when I saw the buck's reaction to the shot. This was another wet, dreary, spitting snow kind of evening, so the search would again be, sans daylight.
The buck ran straight east into the same 2 or 3 acre patch of puckerbrush that Jennifer's did, but a bit further to the north. We began our search at the spot where the deer was standing expecting to see the kind of evident blood trail this combination of rifle and bullet has previously provided.
Nothing! Nada! Zilch! . . . . . . Oh Crap!
The good news was, there was no mistaking the reaction of the deer, and Ann's marksmanship is almost always above reproach. I was confident we would find a dead deer within 100 yards or so.
In spite of the lack of blood spoor, we began searching in the direction the deer was running when last seen. To reiterate, it was one of those damp, dank evenings, still as death, and somewhat eerie feeling as we entered the thick woods in near darkness.
About this time, we heard Rick's car as he drove in to pick up Jennifer, so we would soon have an extra pair of eyes. Turns out it was not eyes, but olfactory senses that proved to be the solution to this dilemma!
Have you ever smelled the distinct aroma of a hard rutting buck? We hadn't gone 20 yards into the timber, when I caught the smell that prompted me to declare, "I don't see him yet, but he can't be far away!"
Ann agreed that the odor was there, but wondered if we were smelling the hot scrape that we knew to be nearby. (We had watched from the living room window as numerous bucks mouthed the overhead branches, pawed the dirt, and urinated into that scrape over the past weeks.)
It was not the scrape! A few more steps revealed the motionless deer a few feet to our left behind a tree.
This is a very nice buck! Here are some pics:
Ann and her 2010 Buck
I'll next show you a picture of the deer's right antler before he broke off the G4 tine, presumably in a fight over a comely lass. This picture was on the trailcam on November 3rd. Unfortunately the shot didn't catch all the rack, but you can see the tine that used to be there.
The G4 was broken off between here and November 17th
I thought the comment expressed by our dentist, Dr. Steve Belknap, was right on the money. As I was showing him photos of Ann's deer and mine, he said matter-of-factly, "Well, looks like she smoked you again!" (Dr. Steve is not unmindful of the fact that Little Heifer has gotten bigger deer over recent years than have I.)
Now, back to that lack of blood trail, or any indication on the ground that the deer was hit.
The 139 grain Hornady SST bullet that Ann was shooting is one that has proven very effective for her. Usually blasting through the chest cavity, devastating internal organs, and leaving a splatter of blood and other unmentionables on the ground on the exit side. So, what happened?
Look closely at the above photo on the right. See that little blood spot on the shoulder? That's the exit hole. While the deer was standing almost exactly perpendicular to the line of fire, his left front leg must have been canted well to the rear, and caught the bullet as it exited the rib cage. The shoulder muscle and hide caught what would have been scattered to the ground had the bullet exited behind the leg.
I mention this to illustrate that there can be exceptions to what we have observed many times as the norm in these situations. There are no certainties when we fire a real bullet into a real animal and we need to be prepared for any eventuality!
Ann donated her deer to the Union Gospel Mission in Spokane. With the recent cold and snowy weather, the area homeless are utilizing the Mission more than usual, so I'm sure it is already consumed.
Since this buck, at least for us, is in the 'wall hangin' category, the antlers and cape are in the hands of Sean West at Captured Expressions Taxidermy (www.cetaxidermy.com) and will be on the wall here in the house in about 10 to 12 months.
One more word about Big Boy. On November 19th, the last day of the season, Big Boy again appeared. He was observed briefly as he marched along the edge of our private road east of the house. Rick still held a valid tag, after passing up Stringhead, Freakhorn, and a number of other decent bucks over the course of the season.
We lost sight of the big buck as his northward line of travel passed beyond one of the shop buildings. When he didn't re-appear, and with shooting light quickly fading, I grabbed the rattling horns and went into a series of rattling, estrous doe bleats, and buck grunts. Alas, we couldn't entice the buck into the open before darkness fell.
We haven't seen Big Boy since that evening!
This month's hillbilly wisdom is of unknown origin, but was purported to be regularly passed along to students by a high school science teacher in Colorado.
"If you know the difference between good advice and bad advice, chances are you don't need advice."
Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!