First deer

Kurt had Friday off and wanted to go deer hunting. We headed out about 8 am, figuring to hunt the south end of Douglas as it was pretty windy for getting across to Admiralty. Our first choice was taken and like so many other times, that was a good thing, it seems. We rounded the south end of the island where there was the north wind blowing that we expected. We cruised along the shore line until we found a tiny bite that was protected from the wind. The tide was high so we knew as long as the wind stayed the same, the boat should be fine as the point behind the bite would increase the wind protection as more of it became exposed as the tide dropped. I used Sara’s gift to me of a small punt made at Juneau Douglas shop class she bought for my birthday. I dropped Kurt, the gear, and one end of a shore line, paddled the big boat out into 20 feet of water, dropped the anchor with the other end of the shore line tied to the anchor, then gingerly piled into the punt and pulled myself to shore with the line. It was a blue bird day with blue sky. This stretch of the mountain was great hunting. Nearly all of it was open woods and the leaves were gone from the blueberries and devils club. We steadily climbed the fairly gradual ascent for an hour or more before we tried calling. I’d guess we were about 2/3 of the way to the top of the mountain when we called for the second time. I saw the top of a blueberry tree shake and knew it was a deer coming. I was in a position for a shot in a prone sitting position when the deer appeared above me about 50 yards. I should have been more ready to have a tree next to me so I could have used it for a better rest. I snapped off a shot, and the deer just stood there. I chambered another shell and “click”. The bolt did’t chamber the next round. By the time I did get another round in the deer had retreated. As we learned later we should have taken off after it rather than try to call it back. I also should have waited to see if it would have come in closer to me but was too anxious. We worked our way to the top, where we found the only really brushy conditions, but still not too bad. We could see the channel down one side and Stephens Passage on the other. After hunting around the top for awhile, we decided to head down. I was in the lead and almost took us down the channel side. I let Kurt take the lead to at least get us down the right side of the mountain. We would call at good looking places on the way down, and at one stop, I called up a deer, Kurt tried to get off a shot but could not find the deer in his scope, and it retreated. He said it was a big doe. I did not see it. We were coming down the middle of a valley, so Kurt went down one side and me the other as we figured the deer would not go far and it was pretty open country. Not long after we split up, I saw the deer, retreating back up the hill in a little side valley, standing just past a big rock with a tree on top of it. It looked like a big deer. This time I got a solid rest against a tree, fired, and saw the deer wheel around and out of sight as if it went right down. A few seconds later something caught my eye moving down the gully in the center of the valley. I told Kurt to come over below me in the valley. I went to where the deer had been standing, and there was no deer. I looked all around and no deer. No fur. No blood. Nothing. Then Kurt yells “here’s your deer”. Somehow, a deer with a 30.06 through the wheelhouse had not gone right down. When I got down to Kurt I was relieved. The bullet had gone through one lung and out further back. Must not have hit any bone. The deer ended up being not a very big deer – a button buck. I dressed the deer, gave my soft pack to Kurt, and loaded the deer whole on my BullPac. It was mid-afternoon, and probably took us another hour to get down the mountain. Being up the mountain is very deceptive. It looks like the water is right there, and you forget it took several hours of climbing to get to the top. We finally got to the bottom, only to find we were perhaps a mile down the beach from the boat. Always hard to tell just how far you are from the boat since you think the next point on the beach is where the boat it, only to find it’s not and it’s a long way to the next point to see if that’s the right one. We decided to get back up into the woods to try to walk the beach trail, but that wasn’t much better either, as it was mostly along cliffs to the beach. We finally found a small creek through the cliffs that allowed us to get back to the beach, and I left Kurt and our packs there and headed to the boat along the beach. It was like using a doughnut on a baseball bat in the on-deck circle. Once freed of the pack weight, it was so much easier walking. Plus, knowing there was PBR from last week’s hunt made the walk even easier. I got to the boat, pulled in the anchor, loaded the gear, and tied off the punt with the groundline piled inside. I did not want to take the time to wind it on the spool. After starting for Kurt, I noticed the punt wasn’t riding right. When I got back to see it it was filling with water and the ground line had come out. I was not able to save the ground line and it was gone. I pulled the punt on board like I should have done from the get go, then went on for Kurt. I knew after about 5 minutes I’d passed him, so turned back for another look. It’s amazing how hard it is to see someone on a beach, even when you’re looking for them, and especially if they have on drab colors or camo. His pack was lime green, and he was waving that back and forth and I just caught a glimpse of it. I picked Kurt and our gear up and we headed home. By now, it was calm in Stephens Passage but really blowing across the channel. I’d not closed the front door as both of us were still hot from the walking. Next thing I know we take a wave directly over the bow which hit me right in the waist. Still learning about the new boat! We closed the door, but didn’t secure the canvas roof. By now we were taking on waves full on the side so I had to get dripped on from the roof the rest of the way home. I couldn’t see out of my side but Kurt could out of his, so we limped through the waves about half way down the channel to Juneau, when we were finally out of the wind and in calm water for the rest of the trip to Douglas Harbor. Both of us were exhausted, and drank fluids the rest of the night, trying to hydrate. I was glad not get get any cramping overnight. Today will be butchering and listening to the college games on the XM.

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