So this is for those of you who have hunted behind our house. If you recall, there is a muskeg up the hill towards Mike Hatch, maybe a 10 or 15 minute hike from the house.
With the first dump of snow for the year, I thought I’d see if any deer were pushed down from above the ditch trail. I moved up the hill and towards the muskeg, but with no intention of spending time there since I figured the deer would be in the woods with all the snow.
I busted out into a little clearing and saw another hunter’s track. The track was angling uphill towards the bridge, so away from where I was going, but it still meant others were in the area. I also spotted a pile of high bush cranberries on a bush, then looked around and saw several other bushes with lots of cranberries, so I decided to switch to berry picking as I figured the deer hunting wasn’t going to be so great with others hunting the hill. I picked all the berries in the area, then continued up the hill to find more and soon busted into the lower part of the muskeg. I saw more tracks and thought there might be one or two other hunters on the hill, in addition to the tracks crossed earlier. As I worked my way around the muskeg berry picking, I noticed people had walked all over it earlier this morning. After working the edge of the muskeg, I headed towards the brushy area in the middle of the muskeg.
And there she was. A large doe. Standing broadside. 20 yards away in an opening in the brush. With snow on her back. Looking at me, but not alarmed.
I chambered a shell, brushed snow out of the scope, clicked the safety off, aimed as the deer turned to walk away, pulled the trigger, and nothing. I thought the safety was frozen shut as it had been dumping snow all morning. I finally realized what I thought was the safety was actually the bolt release, and is located where the safety is on the .243 I’d been hunting with on Prince of Wales for 3 weeks. On the 30.06 I was holding, however, the safety was right under the back of the bolt. And it worked easily when I finally figured it out.
As soon as I figured this out, off I went, easily following the deer’s track. She didn’t run hard. Stopped to pee and poop in a spot. Looked like she stopped and looked back at one spot. She led me down the hill to the left, then right across the hill, then left and uphill again right back to the muskeg where we’d started. The whole time in the brush.
She crossed my track where I first started tracking her, as well as the tracks of the other hunters. The only time she ran was when she came into the wide open part of the musket and took a few bounds into the big woods above the muskeg. I quit tracking her there as I figured I wouldn’t be able to catch up to her to see her again. It looked like that deer was in the brush in the muskeg the whole time the other hunters came through, and as I was just going from tree to tree berry picking, maybe she thought I was not a threat until we locked eyes, and I jacked in a shell and aimed. Had that been a bear coming at me, he’d still be eating right now as I’d never have figured out the safety thing in time. I got a half gallon of berries for my effort and know there are more berries I left when I started after the deer so I’ll get back up there for more.
Next time I’m taking the 30-30 with open sights. I don’t think after that first chance I had that I would have even been able to see through the scope as it was iced up, so a smaller gun with open sights will work better.
The best stories are always about the ones that get away.