Perfect Day

Forecast for Tuesday was for clear sky and high 40’s.  Weekend forecast was wet and windy, again, so time to start hunting as weather allowed.  I was idling in the Yukon with the boat behind in the driveway about 620 am wondering where Kurt was.  He’s never late.  I check the time on my flip phone and there’s a text sent at 250 am.  He’s sick and not going. Well, what to do.  I used to hunt by myself all the time.  Maybe he can go tomorrow.  But maybe he can’t.  What ifs.  I pull away for the boat launch.  If a bear gets me today, it’ll be a good day to go. I launch the boat and head out in a light northerly chop.  Supposed to be fog this morning but the wind blew it out I guess.  As soon as I get on step, I know it’s gonna be a great day.  And that I’ll get a deer.  I get to the anchorage about sunrise.   The raft I bought is just the ticket.  An 8 foot used Zodiac that only weighs 56 lbs and will float my fat ass.    I offload my pack, cased gun, xtratuffs, and ditch bag.   I coil enough line off the spool onto the beach to reach out to the anchor, tie the end off to the anchor, and back offshore.  I anchor the boat, put on hip boots and a life jacket, put the raft over the side, tie a piece of plastic pipe under the front of the raft so it will hit first before the raft bottom does on the barnacles, put in a pail for a seat, and climb in the raft with a kayak paddle.  It doesn’t paddle very well with the pipe under, but I’m not in a hurry.  The hip boots allow me to get out before the boat touches bottom so didn’t really need the pipe under there but it’s nice to have the extra protection.   I put the raft on my head and take it up above the tideline and tie it off to the logs.  I take off the hip boots and put xtrafuffs on.  I uncase my .30-06 and put the case in the raft and tie it off so the wind doesn’t take it away.  I find a clip in my pack and load it into the rifle.  I shoulder my pack.  It’s sunny sky and in the 40’s. The weather could not be better. I head up the hill and blow the call in the first muskeg I come to, but no takers.  I check the google earth map I printed out and vacuum sealed in a bag and note where I’m at and get my bearings to get to the big muskegs on the top.  I climb through the woods another 20 minutes or so.  As the trees give way to muskeg with bull pine and cedar bushes I slow down.  I creep along, looking for deer and an area where I can see but has cover enough that a deer will more likely come to the call. I find a downed tree for a good seat.  When I sit down, it doesn’t look good for shooting.  I see another seat 20 yards away, and this one is better.  I duff my pack, get comfortable, chamber a round and call. I hear something coming straight away.  I think “I hope it’s a deer” (and not a bear).  Soon the deer is in sight, and keeps coming fast.  I make a sound, and it stops.  I fire.  And miss.  The deer takes two bounds away and stops and turns broadside. Funny how I can miss a shot so close.  I’m the master of buck fever.  The second shot I hit the deer.  It hunches up and takes of quartering away from me.    With my heart pounding, I shoulder my pack and get on the path I think is where the deer went.  This is not country for tracking deer by hair or blood.  Too many red plants in the muskeg at this time of year.  I walk about 100 yards away and randomly look here and there.  No deer.  I know I hit it, and just about any hit with a 30-.06 on a blacktail deer is fatal.   I calm down, and walk back to where I was when I shot, then to where I think the deer was standing 30 yards away.  I tie flagging in a tree there, and then try to walk where I thought the deer ran, and tie flagging every 20 yards until I get 60 or so yards away without finding the deer.  I move a little further away and start back towards the hit area, paralleling my line of flags.  I then think – maybe the deer is a lot closer to the hit sight rather than further away.  I see a depression in a copse of cedar bushes near the hit site, and there’s my deer.  I’d hit no bone and the deer had not gone 20 yards from where it was hit.  You can walk right by your deer in this country.  It’s such a relief when you have to search like this and finally find the deer because there’s usually so little sign to track unless there’s snow on the ground. Next comes the longest hour of my life.  I dress the deer and leave the gut pile.  I start dragging the deer away from the gut pile and briefly consider dragging it back, and realize that is way too much work.  I find a tree in the open so I can see bruno coming.  I watched a you tube last week about skinning a deer by hanging it from the head rather than the hind legs, and think I’ll try it.  I tie the rope around the neck, throw the other end over the tree, grab the end and put the line through the loop around the neck, over the tree again, hoist the deer up until it’s the right height, and tie the rope off.  I take off the forelegs, then slit the inner side of each leg to the center.  Then skin around the neck and down to where the two front leg cuts meat in the chest center.  Then I started pulling down the hide from the neck.  This method worked pretty well once I got past the neck.  The hide pulls off of the legs easily and easy to cut through the tail.   After I got the hide off, I realize I didn’t have a saw.  I cut through bone as best i could at the waist with my knife, and twisted the top and bottom parts till it broke.  I put the hind half into the game bag.  I did the same thing at the neck, and put the top half in the game bag.  I loaded the bag into my pack’s main compartment, then put the knives, punched harvest tag, and other gear into the cover pouch of the pack.  I put fresh black tape over the muzzle, then shouldered the pack and headed for the beach.   The trip down was not bad.  About half a mile or so.  I got to the beach and had to back track about a 1/4 mile of beach to the boat.  This can be miserable walking on a big-stoned beach but not bad today.  The north wind had picked up a bit but the boat was neatly tucked behind a protective point.   I duffed my pack near the water line, and packed down the raft and gear to the same spot.  Then I pull in the anchor tied to the shore line, loaded the gear into the boat, and idled off shore.  I took both halves of the deer and sloshed them out in the ocean to cool them down and remove any remaining blood and offal.   I left the anchorage for the boat launch about 1230.  I got home, offloaded the boat and parked it, put the deer in new game bags and hung them in the garage, took a shower and was back to work at 230 pm.    A perfect day.  Except for the going back to work part. 

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