October Deer

Bob, Kurt and I were supposed to go to St James Bay moose hunting this weekend.  Kurt had to cancel as he runs the computer software for the legislature, and the governor had called a special session in Oct so Kurt had to be there for set up.  The remnants of a hurricane were moving across the Gulf of Alaska to southeast Alaska, and it looked like a big steaming pile of weather right in the middle of our hunt.  When I picked up Bob on Thursday, I told him the weather situation and asked if he had anything he “had” to be back for in case we got stuck due to weather.  He said he had to be in Boston on Tue.  So, I gave him the option to go to our cabin and go deer hunting instead of the moose hunt.  Our cabin is nearer to town and we could always come back if the forecast got worse.  We decided to go deer hunting instead. We took off for the cabin. I’d just bought a “porta bote” off a used classified website in Haines, and was eager to try it out.  Before we left town, we took a lot of gear off the boat since we wouldn’t need it.  I put the stove, lanterns, and sleeping bag back in the truck.  We ran over to our cabin in the skiff, then put the porta bote together on the beach and put on the little 2.5 hp motor.  It started right up, and was basically an idle machine that took us from our cabin’s island beach to Admiralty Island beach.  I love the boat but not sure the outboard could run against much waves or tide.  It was pouring rain.  All day.  Kind of a replay of Todd and Kieth’s trip here last year.  We hunted up the side of the mountain, calling in my usual spots, and no deer.  We got back to the beach drenched and not looking forward to the next day, which was supposed to be the big blow and rain.   We decided it was raining hard and the wind forecast such that we would not hunt on Friday.  We had a big breakfast of moose and eggs, then talked and lounged all day.  The big blow did come over night but I slept right through it.   Bob did hear it.  On Saturday, I decided we try an area my workmate had gotten a deer last weekend.  I’d seen this area while trolling offshore of it and was eager to try it.  We took the porta bote with us.  We got to our spot, offloaded our packs and guns, then I paddled out with the skiff and the porta boat, anchored the skiff, then rowed back in the porta bote, which we carried above the high tide line. We headed up the hill.  We worked our way uphill maybe 20 minutes, and came to a spot that looked like it adjoined a fairly open muskeg.  I blew the call.  Waited 5 minutes, and blew again.  Bob was about 30 yards away.  He signaled that deer were coming.  I then saw the head of a doe through the brush.  She looked at me, then back to Bob, then to me, then back to Bob.  The deer was broadside to Bob and I didn’t even think about shooting.  Then she snorted and turned back to where she came.   Bob then fired.   He said he missed.  And that there was a buck with the doe that I could not see.  The sun was coming right in the scope.  The sun and wind were coming from the same direction, so not much we could do.  It was exciting anyway to have seen deer on the very first spot we called. We hunted hard the rest of the day.  We called at some huge open muskeg areas.  We moved into the thicker brush along one of the muskegs, and I saw a deer that immediately took off into the brush and we never saw it again.  As the day wore on we gradually moved back to the same beach as the boat was on and started back to where we thought the boat was. We got into a fairly open area in pretty thick area of spruce and hemlock trees and blueberries.  I sent Bob down to a spot about 50 yards away, and I set up looking down the hill.  I blew the call and waited 5 minutes, then blew again.  Something caught my eye and here comes a deer from down the hill, up to me.  I drew my gun and it immediately stopped.  I could see it’s head and neck through the blueberry brush, but when I went to aim at it through my scope, I couldn’t see it.  I then looked away from the scope at it again and it was still there staring at me.  I looked for it through the scope, and noticed it’s neck move ever so much, dialed in on that white neck patch, and fired my 30.06.  I saw no movement, stood up, and saw what I thought was the deer laying below.  I called to Bob that I thought I got it.  I walked down the 30 yards or so and saw the doe laying there, piled up.  An immediate kill shot through the neck.   Bob came over and we were glad to have finally got a deer between the two of us after so many tries.  Then we see a deer coming up the same trail the doe did.  First I thought it might be a buck following the doe.  But it was not.  It was the doe’s offspring.  The smallest deer I’d ever seen.  Even though it was October, this fawn was tiny for the size I’d seen any offspring this time of year.  It was not very wary of us.  It seemed to know it’s mother was gone, and hung around for quite awhile, keeping it’s distance at about 20 yards.  It finally wandered off.  It was too small to take that deer, too, but a quandary because we had to wonder if a deer that small could make it on it’s own. I showed Bob how to dress the deer.  The doe was clearly still lactating when we continued the process.  I tied a line up through the bottom jaw as the Bue brothers had shown me how they do it in Minnesota for a drag line.  Bob gave me his broken-down walking poles as a handle, which I tied the other end of the drag line, and we headed downhill to the boat dragging the deer.  It was further than it looked, as it always seems it is, till we got to the beach.  We came down to a creek that emptied into the ocean, so we lowered down the deer to the beach from the cliffy shore.  We then headed up the cliff line to find the skiff.  We’d walked further than we thought and it took awhile to get to the skiff.  But also as taught by a brother Bue, we’d left some beverages in the skiff, which gives you something to look forward to on the way to the boat.  We finally reached the boat.  We launched the porta bote, and I paddled out to the skiff, pulled anchor, and then brought it to the boat.  Bob handed in the packs and guns, and we motored down the beach till we came to where we’d lowered the deer down the cliff.  I dragged down the deer to the skiff and we headed for the cabin.  Both of us couldn’t wait to come back here the next day. When we got back to our haulout at the island, we saw that the offshore anchor had drug in the big winds the night before.  I tied off the boat, but it was beached in the shallows and I couldn’t get it any more offshore.  It was near low tide, and I figured I could come down before low tide in the morning and get it off. We had a dinner of chirizo, beans, left over mashed potatoes, and salad burritos.  The next day’s forecast looked perfect.  We could get up at daybreak, get to the spot and hunt till midday, then beat it back to the boat ramp before the north wind cranked up.    I woke up about 430 and at 5 am went to the boat to get it further offshore.  The boat was already beached by about a 1/2 hour, so I knew we couldn’t leave till mid morning, when the tide would be in enough to float it.  When we both got up about sunrise, we put on the weather station on the VHF and heard that the forecast had gone to a more severe forecast.  It was going to blow much harder than the night before.  Both of us knew we couldn’t hunt today and get back for sure so we didn’t hurry to do anything.  I made a breakfast of leftover chirizo, potatoes, salad greens, eggs and cheese with home made bread.  Then did the dishes.  We headed out about 11 am.  It was a little lumpy coming home, and we could see that indeed the weather was coming. I dropped Bob off on the way home and we planned to meet and butcher the deer as Bob had not done this before.  He’d always taken it to a processor.  I had the deer about half skinned when Bob arrived, and in no time, we had the deer butchered and in vac pack bags, then headed to the vac packer to finish.  So, we found a new spot that I think will become our primary spot to go, and the sad situation we created orphaning an offspring.    

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