Sunrise on the final Saturday

Sunrise over the waterhole on the final Sunday of the season.

I was able to make it for the final weekend of Muzzleloading Deer Season in hopes that I still might be able to get a shot. But, not being able to leave until after work on Friday, I was only going to get a day and half to hunt. The weather proved to be ideal for the hunt. A cold front moved in Friday night and couple that with a full moon and a clear night, the conditions to get the deer moving.

I did see a lot of deer that morning, all whitetails. Unfortunately, they all stayed out of the field I was in and ran the fences to the north and east of me (which we don’t have permission to hunt). A couple of does started to venture in, but were startled by something and changed their mind.

I left around mid-morning to grab some lunch. I had planned on coming back out later in the afternoon as their were a pair of whitetail bucks that seemed to be coming to the water hole every 3 days in the evenings. I’ve observed this behaviour before, noticing that deer seemed to be on some type of schedule like that and would be seen every 2-3 days. Saturday would be the third day for this pair of bachelor bucks. My hunting buddy and I set back out around 5 to see if it would hold true.

I started to get apprehensive as sunset approached and we hadn’t seen anything up to then. But like clockwork, the two bucks showed about 5 minutes after sundown, rounding a ridge just to the north of our stand. We were sitting in a washout on the side of ridge about 10 feet above a couple of paths leading up to the windmill watering hole.

We watched the bucks pick the closest path to us and realized they were going to pass within 30 yards of out stand. My heart and breathing is racing at this point. My first shot at a buck! I mean, I’m really panting, like I had run a marathon. I’m getting worried they’re going to hear me. My mind is screaming at me, “Don’t move! Sit still! Why are you breathing so hard?”

I pick my shooting lane. I wait until the biggest of the 2 clears a large sunflower plant I’m sitting behind. I see his head, his shoulders. I pick my spot. Wait. Squeeze.

The buck flinched, did a 180 and put the spurs down. My partner had waited for me to take the shot. I hear his ring out and see the puff of dust in a slight ridge over the top of the buck’s back. He’s at full gallop, his white tail flying high. We had both missed!

I have no excuses, total newbie, greenhorn mistake. My buddie’s shot was a running shot. When I fired, he was barely moving. And I should’ve waited a couple more seconds to get a good broadside. Instead, in my excitement and nervousness, I took a quartered shot and probably went underneath him. How disappointing! It was like I had forgotten everything when I sighted that buck in.

We went back out Sunday morning, but nothing seemed to be moving. We left around 10 as I had to get my gear packed up to head back home. The season was over. I still had loads of fun and learned much. And I still have December to give it another try. Like I’ve said before, it’s why they call it hunting and not getting. Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to redeem myself in December.

Keep your powder dry.