We got our unfinished container house to our lot in Craig without incident yesterday. Then we went to rescue Ellen, Barb and Ed when the key to the boat ignition broke when trying to open the glove box. Brian wanted to go hunting today so I thought I’d better go along. After a month of sun and dry and north wind it turned to southerly wind and rain. Too windy to go in the boat, so we thought we’d try somewhere we could drive to. Steve gave me a place to go when I helped him butcher his deer a couple days ago, and Brian also had a place to try near the same area. When we got out there, we decided to hunt together where Brian wanted to go. We drove up a logging road to a spot Brian knew well because it’s where they go snow machining. This could turn out to be a pretty good hike so I shouldered my full plastic frame back pack just in case. Brian went with a little pack. As we headed up the hill, my knee was stiff and things ached. The further we hiked, the better everything felt as it loosened up.
We worked our way up the mountain, calling in the grassy muskegs. We saw no deer. When we reached a high point, we descended to another group of muskegs. Rather than the open grassy ones we’d seen, these had lots of small cedar and bull pine and brush – the kind deer like to hang out in and the kind it’s easier for fat boy to sneak around in without every deer in the area seeing me. It was really blowing up here. We descended to a brushy muskeg that had a little ridge to it, and we were on the lee side. The ridge had a gully in the middle, and you could see the rain blowing through the gully up the hill in the wind. Brian was to my left as he blew the call a few times. He motioned that he saw a doe down hill and to my right. I couldn’t see her for a few moments, then here she comes charging up to us. She had a scar on her side. She made her way past me out about 20 yards and up to Brian. Then here comes a buck with a really white colored rack. Most racks are brownish red here from what they rub the velvet off, I guess, but this one was white like the white tail deer racks back home. I had chambered a shell before Brian started calling, so I was already loaded and flicked off the safety. I was going to wait till the buck came right across from me like the doe did, but the buck saw me move and held up. I decided not wait. I looked through my scope at him out there maybe 30 yards. The scope was fogged with the rain, but I could make out the white patch below his chin and it was over.
What a big deer. As I walked down to him, I could smell him from about 10 yards away. This guy was in the rut with his stinky rear hocks and big neck. Brian thought he could carry the gutted deer up the hill we came down. When I grabbed on to an antler to drag it, I said I couldn’t. I thought it best to butcher it there and put him in my pack. As I started to gut the deer, Brian said I had to pose for pictures. He took several with his iphone. I cut around the butt hole and tied it into a knot so it could be pulled through while Brian slit the belly and removed the guts. I cut a hanging stick to put through the back hocks. We put the stick through the hocks, I tied my rope to it between the deer’s legs. The other end of the rope I threw over a branch, pulled it under the stick again, and threw it over the branch again. Steve taught me to use the pulley principle to pull up your deer so you can skin it. We got the deer as high as we could, and Brian tied off the rope.
Then he had me stand next to the deer for more photos. People who know how big I am will see from this photo – this is a big deer. We worked together skinning the deer. As Brian started on the rear legs, I cut off the front lower hocks. Then we each started in on a back leg and worked our way around the deer as we removed the hide. We skinned it down to the neck where I’d shot it, and I used a handy little saw Smiley gave me last summer to cut off the neck. As Brian worked on removing the antlers from the head, I cut off the front quarters and put them into the game bag loaded in my pack. Then Brian worked on the back straps as I cut out the tenderloins, and Brian sawed off the ribs. Then we cut off the back bone and put the hind quarters in as one piece. Brian took my gear of knife, sharpener, VHF, etc into his little pack and he carried the antlers. He helped me shoulder my pack full of venison, and we headed up the hill. Brian asked several times on the way back if I wanted him to carry the pack. I said I was okay. I wanted to carry it all the way out, just so I knew I still could.
The uphill ascent wasn’t too bad. Then we were on our way down hill back to the truck. My guess is we were maybe 3/4 of a mile to a mile in. It probably took us about 45 minutes to hike out. It was a relief to get back to the truck. All the way back I kept running through my mind that buck coming on hard following the doe. I pulled the tailgate open, and unshouldered my pack into the truck bed. The coffee from the thermos of coffee I bought from Black Bear store on the way out was still hot as I started the truck for the ride home. We cased our rifles and took off our raingear and were on our way. We stopped at Steve’s to show him the antlers and tell him the story. Then picked up the boat with a new ignition after the broken key and told the story again to Chet. At the house, I got the venison out of the pack to cool. I removed the meat from the front and hind quarters, and I cleaned off the stray deer hairs and muskeg fauna that were on the meat. What a day. It’s good to be here.