October Deer Hunting

Went down to Craig soon after I returned from Ecuador.  Charlie was supposed to join me soon after I arrived.  Then he slipped on his deck when drinking coffee and smoking a heater, I’m sure, as that’s why he was out there – and he fell on his hand and sprained his wrist.   So no Charlie this year.
The weather was back to regular October weather.  Pouring rain and blowing the rain sideways.  The rain without the wind is tolerable as it allows travel by boat to hunting spots.  But the wind makes the travel and safe anchoring marginal, plus worrying about your boat dragging anchor all day if you do get there.  
The first day was in middle October, when the bucks are not moving all that much.  But I hoped there would still be some salal berries out as I was getting low on jam I’d made a couple years earlier, so I went to a berry hotspot where Charlie and I have taken several deer.  My hip has been bugging the crap out  of me ever since I returned with Kurt on the tug from Ketchikan, and I’ve been getting worried about my hiking abilities.  But the hike in went well.  I got a couple big Costco nut jars full of berries, and called in a few deer but no bucks.  A real nice day.
Ellen mentioned a friend’s advice to freeze the salal berries whole, on the stem, before picking them off the stem.  The salal berries grow more like grapes than they do blue berries.  And the berries don’t pick off their stem that easy.  Her friend was right.  The berries separated from the stem much easier, and there was very little chafe in the berries like there was the last time I made jam.  Nice.  
The weather was crappy the next few days, so I made jam.  I put about 1/2 the volume of sugar as the volume of berries and when the berries were good and cooked, I used an immersion blender I got at Vera’s garage sale to pulverize everything, then canned the jams.  I think I got half a dozen half pints.  I gave one to Barb when she brought by a dozen of her hen’s eggs.
I didn’t get back out for several more days due to weather.  I returned to berry patch site as I knew it would be a safe anchorage compared to some others in the weather.  I hiked in further than I did on the first day to spots we’d taken deer.  I saw some doe but no bucks.  I picked some berries on the way out, as I found some really honey holes near the beach. Then it started pouring again and I thought: are you really going to keep picking berries in this downpour?  I hiked out to the beach, swapped my cork boots for regular Xtra Tuffs, pulled in the boat, then pulled on the punt, and headed towards home.  I cranked up the heater today, and it felt good to be warm.
After a few more days of sideways rain, I got out one more day.  I tried a new island I’d not hunted on the advice of my brother in law.  I found a nice muskeg on OnX.  As I entered the bay, there was a deer on the beach.  Or so I thought.  When I looked through the binoculars, I thought it wasn’t a deer now, as it looked like rocks.  Then the rocks moved, and I saw it was a deer.  From the way it moved, I thought for sure it was a buck.  But I needed to be sure sure.  I idled in and it wasn’t all that nervous, and then I saw it was a buck.  A medium fork horn.
The beach wasn’t very long and I didn’t think I could run to the end of the beach to get off and shoot and think the deer wouldn’t go back in the woods.  I thought I’d try to idle around the point out of sight of the deer, and then come back through the woods to the beach behind him.  But just as I got to the point, he’d had enough and walked back into the woods.  Oh well.  As I headed further into the bay to get to the muskeg, here comes a doe and yearling down the same beach to the water’s edge.   
I went in the bay a little further and when I got across from the muskeg I wanted to go to, the anchorage wasn’t good, so I kept going til it was.  I’d side hill it to the muskeg.  
As I got into the woods, it looked alot steeper than I expected it to be, but I started side hilling it up the hill.   Once I got going, my hip actually feels better when I get it going.  Probably took me 30 to 45 min to get up to the muskeg.  It was a perfect setting, with me perched above and where I could call and not be seen too easily and be in a spot where deer could come from lots of directions without me seeing them till they were close.
I called for an hour or two.  I called a couple of doe in, but no bucks.  It was a beautiful day in the sun and I didn’t want to leave.  I figured I’d take a short cut and go straight down to the beach, then follow the beach back to the boat.   The going down was nice and easy for the first little while.  Right down through some muskeg grass.  Then I came to the edge.  It wasn’t sheer, but almost.  I picked my way down slowly and carefully.  I eventually got to the beach fringe, and started back to the boat.  Across some creek bottoms and around deadfalls.  I got to a spot I could make it easily to the beach, and I took the bait.   I got down to the water’s edge, and followed it back towards the boat.  Then I ran out of beach and into rocks that fell right off to 4 to 6 feet of water.  So I had to scramble up the rock with tightly knit brush until I got back up the to the beach fringe, then finally made my way back to the boat.   I’ve never been happier I didn’t get a deer!  It would have been a serious chore getting it out of that place.  I doubt I’ll go back there.
Made my way home, and decided when I got back and looked at the forecast I better get back to Juneau.  With another volunteer consulting trip coming up, it looked like I’d have a one or two day window where I could fly and then it might be shut down again for another week, and I didn’t want to risk not getting back to get ready.    
I started to button things up, and by the next day was ready to head home with no deer.  Approaching 60, getting deer isn’t as big of importance as it used to be.  Hopefully when I get back in early December I’ll still have time to take a trip on the tug closer to home.

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