John and me, 2015 Deer Hunt

John arrived and met me in Ketchikan Oct 23. We were able to catch a flight to Craig and get in a day earlier than expected. We stopped for John’s license. John’s license was $85 and a deer tag $150. John first gave me $80, which I told him wasn’t enough. Then he gave me a check for $250 that his mom sent. We tried paying with a credit card, but could not so went to the bank to cash the check. The $80 was subsequently lost. John said I never gave it back to him and that I lost it. That went on for the rest of the trip. I guess it dropped out of my pocket.

On the first day out, we went to a cove I’d hunted last year and saw many deer but no bucks, while the rest of the party went to a road and hunted from 4-wheelers.  We saw no bucks, but had a nice hike further up than I’d ever gone. When the boat returned for us on the beach, I tried to jump up on the bow, didn’t make it, and was sliding back down for another try. When my leg hit the ground, it came down awkwardly on a rock and I wrenched my knee.  Really wrenched it. I knew I was injured pretty good, and hoped nothing was torn inside. I knew at minimum I’d be out of commission for a few days. Luckily, it turned out to just be a sprain.

The next day John went halibut fishing with the men while I nursed my knee. My truck brakes were leaking somewhere, and we found the leak before John left. The leak was along a length of brakeline going to the back brakes that had a union on either end. Easy fix. I worked the line loose, then loosened both unions, removed the brakeline piece, and made several trips to the store for parts and brake fluid until it was finally fixed.  The next day John went to shoot his gun with Ed. I was still hobbled, and so repaired the broken window in the rear of the truck cab. Brian gave me a piece of scrap plexiglass. I cut it to fit on his bandsaw, then screwed it in place and liberally caulked the crap out of the edges. It held out the water. Then, the wipers went. All of a sudden, the driver’s side wiper just quit. I got on YouTube and found it was a simply fix. I took out the grate under the wipers, unscrewed the three bolts holding in the wiper motor, and saw that the plastic bushings were worn out on the wiper motor arms. Back to NAPA, who said they didn’t have them, then realized they were actually in the store from that day’s shipment but not yet in stock. So, I returned later and retrieved them. I put the wipers back together and good as new. All told, the brake and wiper parts were less than $100, so not bad as I could do all the work myself. The $1,500 “deal” we got the truck from Charlie for is now with new windshield and repaired brainbox and so we have close to $3,000 into it now. But if that’s it for awhile, it will still be okay.

Mike brought over a device his wife used for her knee surgery for me to use. Basically a thing you wrap around your knee that circulates ice water from a little cooler it’s connected to. Pure heaven. I iced the knee daily and used the circulator each eve for the first 2 days, then just the circulator. With a steady diet of ibuprofen and PBR, the knee got better with each passing day. By the 3rd day after the injury, I was ready for a little hiking, so John and I tried to hunt near the road to Coffman Cove. We called in one doe, had a nice lunch at the Coffman Cove cafe, saw a huge elk antler shed a couple hunters returning from Etolin Island had, and I got some killer sunglasses from the Coffman Cove store for $1. We never got to where Brian told us to try due to poor communications on directions. The next day we went to the right spot, and saw several deer but no bucks. The following day, we decided to go in Brian’s small skiff to a little island near town where we saw our first and biggest buck last year, which we did not get. We had a good hike and saw two does near the end of the day. On the way to the boat, I found a spot light that I later saw was $68 at the sporting goods store in Craig. Hopefully it was not being used elsewhere for nefarious purposes. Best thing was it still worked. Our anchor hung up on the bottom and we had to leave it. We cut the line, tied a buoy to the line, and left it. The next day, we retrieved it at low tide. The line had run under a log and slipped right out when pulled from the anchor side.  The next day we went to our favorite island where we took most of our deer last year. We saw nothing on the way up, calling at each good spot. For the first time, we got up to a muskeg we’d always been heading for but did not reach because we’d gotten a deer before we’d get there. The muskeg was sort of on a table top, with a small rise to get to the flat top. As we worked our way uphill, I saw a deer, standing stone still, going downhill out the back door. I looked and saw it was a buck.  John told me to take it as he couldn’t see it. I sloughed my pack, chambered a round, walked forward a few feet to a tree for a good rest, took aim, and fired. The deer dropped in it’s tracks. While I aimed for the lower part of the neck, the bullet went through both shoulder blades. I chalked it up to buck fever. John and I butchered the deer. I had him go up and call in the muskeg until I got the deer skinned, but no more deer seen. It was nice being able to divide the deer into two packs for the hike down. We returned to the same spot the next day and did not see a single deer. It was the first day hunting on this island that John had not seen a buck. We tried another favorite spot the next day with Ellen and her friend Shelby. No one saw any bucks, and and both of us saw just one or two does. John and I got back to the boat first, and John wanted to go out in the kayak and bring the boat to the beach.

Since he’d learned to drive my boat this summer and Brian’s boat was essentially the same set-up, I approved. Then I disapproved when I realized there was no life jacket until I realized the jacket Ellen left in the kayak WAS a life jacket, so off John went. He paddled the 30 yards out to the boat in flat calm water. It was pretty wobbly for him getting in the boat, but he made it. He started the boat, put the boat in gear, and started in a circle to the beach. He wasn’t making much head way. I was frantically waving my arms for him to stop but it took awhile for him to finally see me. Then he said “what?” like I was yelling at him for doing something wrong. I said “did you pull the anchor?” ( I knew he had not) and he said yeah- oh no. He went forward,  pulled the anchor, and idled in as I laughed. We went back to our favorite island the next day, but to a different spot where Ellen had gone the year before. She laid out the trail up to a big muskeg and gave us some pointers. We started up through some helicopter logging, calling as we came to good spots. We called in a doe and a yearling at one spot, and they came right up to us. We got to the muskeg high up the mountain. We cautiously found comfortable spots to sit, and I started calling. On the second or third sequence of calls, a doe came in. She ran all around the muskeg and along the edges, snorting. A nice, live decoy. I kept calling. About 20 minutes later, I looked to my left, realized I’d seen an antler, and looked again. A big buck had come in behind me, about 20 yards away. It was broadside to John.  He said later he saw it as I rose to shoot, but I suspect he was either looking at his hands or his feet or kicking the dirt as I’d seen him do at the other places we’d call – anything but look out for deer coming in. Anyway, I stood up, turned around and fired quickly once, and missed. The deer started to turn and walk away when it stopped. I took better aim, fired, and the deer reared like a stallion and then toppled over. Wow, we just got a big buck. I walked over and saw it was still breathing. I walked up to about 10 feet from it, aimed just below his ear, and fired. The bullet went under his chin into the muskeg, and the buck looked up at me, sort of coming out of a daze. Then it got up and started wobbling away like it was drunk. I gave chase, but was out of bullets and yelling for John to bring my pack. The deer went down again, and I caught up to it, but still out of bullets. Then it got up again and wobbled away again. I got some bullets from John’s gun and took off after it, but never caught up to it. There was no hair or blood where I shot it or anywhere after. We looked for what John thought was 2 hours and never a sign. As I replayed it in my mind later that evening, I realized I may have just beaned it in the skull or the antler and knocked it out. When I moved in for the kill shot and missed, that woke him up. He knew this wasn’t a good situation, forced himself up, staggered and fell, got up again and made his getaway. Of course we had to go back the next day. I hoped to find it laying dead somewhere along the way. We worked our way up to the muskeg, not spending much time down low where we’d tried the day before.  The wind was blowing from the upper right corner of the muskeg to the lower left corner, so I thought we’d work our way up the brush on the right side of the muskeg and call from there, thinking a deer would work it’s way downwind of us and then come across the muskeg to check us out. When we got to a good spot, we found if we moved up into the muskeg a bit, we could see better. We slowly edged our way into the muskeg. I looked downhill. And there he was. Either yesterday’s buck or his twin brother. I bent down and retreated and told John the buck was there. John did not have time to load, remove his scope covers and get a shot off before the deer bounded away. John gave chase and tried calling him back but he would not come. We settled in in the pouring rain for as long as we could stand it and called. We did call a doe to us, but not another buck. We slogged it all the way back down the mountain and it was kind of a lumpy ride home. The next day was our last day and John agreed we’d not hunt but clean the house, wash our clothes and get ready to leave the following day. John asked to go to the range, and I thought that would be a good mid day break, so we went. That’s where I found my gun was way off – low and to the left by alot. It took most of a box of shells to get me around the bullseye at 50 yards before I was out of bullets. The scope adjustment covers were off the scope as I’d lost one and taken the other for sizing when I ordered new ones last year, and I forgot to take them with me so I’d just wrapped over them with electric tape. That must have thrown them off, or I fell and they moved or something. I shot all of my deer in the neck last year so knew the gun was good when I put it away last year. Anyway, lots of stories and lessons learned.

John and I flew out the next morning to Ketchikan, but we got fogged out of the airport and had to return to Klawock to wait on the weather.  When we got to Ketchikan, our jet was still on the ground but they were getting ready to push it out so we knew we were too late. No connecting flight was going to get us from Seattle to Chicago on time either. We flew on the next flight. John had been harassing me all week that I had lost $80 he’d given me for his license, which was not enough so we had to cash a check his mom had sent, instead. He said I didn’t give him back the money, and I couldn’t find it anywhere. John had not done much of any homework the whole week, so decided to catch up on the flight. He opened up his homework backpack and there was his money. I grabbed the scruff of his shirt and pulled his face right up to mine. He was laughing so hard he couldn’t talk. When we got to Seattle, John saw our connecting flight had been delayed!  I sent him ahead on the connecting train to try to make it for us. The jet was still on the ground but the door from the airport was closed and the agents down on the plane. We just missed it again. So we spent the evening in the Seattle McDonalds. We left the next morning at 630 am, and got to Chicago at noon. I got John to his connecting gate for Pittsburgh, then rented a car and drove up to Appleton, WI to meet Doug Larson at Mods International. He had a container home we’d put down a deposit on and I wanted to see if before we bought it and had it shipped to our land in Craig. It was everything he’d said and more and he could not have been more accommodating. He was the only one still at his office, having waited for me on a Friday evening. I was buying a demo unit so it was already discounted and yet he treated me like I was buying a 100 of them. I looked it over for about and hour, peppering Doug with questions, and was confident of the purchase. I slept till 4 am at a local hotel then headed back to Chicago. It took half and hour to an hour less on the return trip because it was the weekend, so I made it in good time. Everyone was nice in Wisconsin and Chicago. Even the highway drivers seemed to know I wasn’t from there and let me in as needed to make my exits or exchanges. Tons and tons of geese and cranes up through Wisconsin. Midwesterners are good people. So, only 1 deer so far and now will be scampering to get more to fill our freezer and get Paul some deer. too. Always good when you need to do more hunting.

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