Nephew John and I are in Craig for John’s third season deer hunting. Not bad for a 14 year old. His flight was delayed out of Chicago to Seattle so by the time he got to town on Friday we had to spend the night. We went out for pizza and stayed at a hotel. We were on the first flight to Craig in the morning on a beautiful day. When we got to town, my inlaws had left my truck at the airport as they’d gone hunting for the day. John and I got to our inlaws, put out hunting gear together, and got John’s license. This is the last year of the pricing for his license ($80) and deer tag ($150). Next year the deer tag goes to $300 and license to $150.
We drove out towards the middle of the island, and stopped at a muskeg along the highway about 11 am. We had about 4 to 5 hours of daylight to hunt. John had the call he’s built with my brother-in-law last year, and was doing a good job calling. He called in a deer that seemed like a buck, but I never saw it’s head and John never saw it at all. Later, John called in a doe. So, 2 deer on the first day. Not bad. The next day we went to our favorite island. In the first or second muskeg we got to, John called in a doe and a yearling. A couple muskegs later, he called in a doe that came from the bottom, and another apparent doe from the top. He kept calling and that doe turned out to be a spike. I told John it was a buck and he said to take it, so I did. We dressed and skinned the deer there, cut off the front quarters, ribs and backbone at the hind quarters, and dropped it into my homemade game bag in my pack. Then we loaded the remaining hind quarters. John took the hunting gear from my pack and put it in his, and we hunted our way back to the boat and saw no more deer. The others with us hunting elsewhere saw few or no deer.
On day 3, we went to one of my favorite bays. The salal and muskegs had 3/8 inch of hoar frost and everything was especially noisy. We saw no deer, but lots of buck rubs, as we usually do. My brother-in-law went to another spot and didn’t see any deer either.
Today was day 4. My expectations weren’t too high after the previous day. We were dropped at another cove I’ve hunted several times. We made our way up through the 3 muskegs you hunt. I’ve seen up to a dozen does in these, but never a buck. Today, we didn’t see a deer. We worked our way around the bowl by getting up onto a spine that lead back to the beach. We came to a muskeg and I almost called there. Then I saw the muskeg went down to the left. Here on top it was blowing, but it looked a lot quieter down there, out of the wind. So, we went there instead. As we got into the lower muskeg, I saw a doe that turned around and went into the woods. I blew on the call, but didn’t see anything. Then I saw the doe come out across a little creek and head up the other side of the muskeg. I blew the call, and that turned her. Then we saw another deer, and John said it looked like a doe or yearling also. Then I saw third deer bringing up the rear. And it was a buck. It froze broadside to us about 50 yards away on the other side of the creek. By this time, the doe had crossed back over to us and was coming up to the call. John was only 15 feet to my right, and couldn’t see the buck. I called him over. He said ” the doe’s right there”. She was about 10 yards in front of us. I said get over here before the buck leaves. The doe jumped a bit but then was calm. John got a rest against the tree. I saw him flick off the safety. Then the buck, which had been looking at us frozen still, turned his head to the right and I thought it was about to walk away when John squeezed the trigger. Right through the neck and it was all over. I was really excited.
Hunting all day and we see three deer in this little out of the way spot and John gets his deer. John got out his phone and had me take a few photos. Then I helped John dress his deer, and he put the heart in some salal to cool. I cut a stick that we put between the hind legs, hoisted the deer up a tree, and skinned it. Same as last time, we put the deer in my pack and my gear in John’s pack. John decided to take back the head, and put his locking tag in it’s ear. It was 12:35 pm when we started down, and I figured we had plenty of time. My brother-in-law showed up right on time at 2pm and we had just reached the beach. Sure didn’t seem like a 90ish minute trek back but my back figured that was about right. This deer was the 4th that I’ve packed out this season, and this trek was probably the most rigorous. Just glad I can still do it and hopefully John will soon be taking over the packing duties.