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A great day in the field!

FreezerFreezer Posts: 2,751 Senior Member
I hunt a recovered strip mine. You can imagine the terrain, there are huge fields and deep valleys that drop down to a river. The valleys lead down to a river and are steeper than I would want to drag a deer up. Next year I'll hide a bike and trailer near the hiking trail at the bottom, Just in case. 

Yesterday I got to my hunting hotel (blind) at 5:45 am and settled in for the morning. It was 50 degrees with a front coming in quick. As forecast, the front came in at 7:00 with high winds, heavy rain and quickly dropping temps. I lit the heater at 8:00 and enjoyed mother nature's show. It was beautiful, but no deer came though. By 12:30 the front had passed and the skies cleared. Blind hunting has never been my idea of hunting, more a kin to harvesting. Arthritis is playing hell on my joints, but I decided I wanted to hunt, observe sign, movement and enjoy the peace solitude of a still hunt. 

I started by crossing the dam face of the pond near the blind, following a well-used deer trail. What I found was fantastic, not 75 yards from my blind were beds in the thick brush with three good scrapes on the perimeter. As I climbed out of the valley, there was a lot more sign. Near the top of the valley, there is a 50 yard wide grass covered trail that extends for three miles. I was feeling nostalgic and wanted to hunt the woods the way I used to and decided to stay below the rim and hunt the woods, a decision I didn't regret until I had to climb back to the top. 

As I moved through the woods, It brought back so many good memories of hunting Blacktail deer on Lake Shasta in Northern California. The hillside was very steep, and I could see 150 yards through the trees. I moved laterally, dropping and gaining elevations, to explore and investigate a piece of terrain. I was the apex predator in the woods again, I wasn't a sniper siting comfortably waiting for a victim, I was a hunter moving tree to tree. I saw sign of deer, fox, bear and coyote.

It took a couple of hours to move a mile and a half to the stand where my great-nephew sat. We decided to drive some of the open fields in hopes of finding deer bedded down. Our efforts were rewarded when we spotted a buck at two-hundred yards. He had a large body and decent rack. He stood in front of some tall brush, and it made it hard to count his points. In Pa where we hunt, bucks have to have three points up, not including the eye guard. After five minutes he turned his head in a manor where I could see he was a three by two, legal. My shoulders won't permit me a steady free hand hold, I can't kneel with steel knees, the grass is too high for a sitting shot and that made a prone shot out of the question, so I moved into a place with a brace. That's when we finally were able to count horns. Just as I lined him up, he stepped into the tall brush. We discussed our next move, wait him out or have my nephew put in a stalk to get him to stand. We chose the latter, which proved to be a mistake. As he closed in on the brush pile, the wind shifted and the buck busted out of the back side on a full run, no chance for a shot.

We drove more of the fields and found a lot of sign, but no deer. We finished the day in the woods below the fields, but didn't see anything. It was a great hunt! My body did fairly well, and I was able to hunt within my current limitations, the way I love. I did learn a few things. If I want to hunt like this, I need a walking stick and or a shooting stick, as I can't hold the rifle free hand for long. My hips did well, and I feel great this morning with a full and gratified heart. I was slightly embarrassed when my nephew offered to help me get off the ground the first time. I look like a baby Giraffe getting up! I just looked at him and said, "I got it". After the last hunt when I was sitting low on some rocks, he saw me contemplating how to get up, ha asked, "are you ok?" I told him I'll get there, I'm just stiff. He must have had a good laugh watching me wiggle and push getting to my feet.

My nephew is a great and kind man. He looks and acts so much like my late son. I had given him Jake's hunting gear, and he was wearing it. Great memories and a heavy heart were with me all day. I couldn't have asked for a better hunt. I thank God I can still "hunt". The hunting hotel is great! It is comfortable, warm, dry, and overlooks a great, beautiful and potentially productive spot, but there's nothing like still hunting!

BTW, someone here made s cool shooting stick, could you post them?

I like Elmer Keith; I married his daughter :wink:


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