Monday, November 23, 2009

The one that got away

Girlie Bear and I went to our muzzleloader hunt at Fort Knox this weekend. 

The weather all weekend was fabulous.  Very chilly in the morning, but it warmed up as soon as the sun came up.  Clear skies, very little wind, and temperatures in the 40's and 50's.

Girlie Bear and I spent Saturday in the blind down in a draw.  Getting into the woods was a pain due to all of the fallen timber.  The area got hit hard last year when Hurricane Ike was followed up with a large ice storm a couple of months later.  My friend and his daughter hunted the adjoining spur.  Their trek was a lot easier.

We sat quietly in the blind all day, but didn't see anything.  We still had a good time, talking quietly, reading, and watching the squirrels.  We came out of the woods in the mid-afternoon.  Fort Knox wants everyone off by 5, so there was no sense trying to hunt until dark when we wouldn't have time to look for anything we got before we had to leave for the night.

Sunday morning rolled around very early, and after I woke her up, Girlie Bear decided she would rather spend the day playing with Baby Bear.  So I went out again without her.  No biggee.  She tried it, she says she wants to go again in the future, but she wanted to get some sleep.  I'll take her out again later.

I went a bit deeper into the same draw, and hunted from the ground without the blind. 

After I got settled, just before shooting light at 7, I heard something crashing around in the thicket above me.  Pretty sure it was a deer, but it wasn't acting like it was spooked, just walking around and wearing out trees.

A couple of hours later, I put my rifle down to drink some water and eat a snack.  Unfortunately, I left my gun leaning against the tree I was leaning on.  About 15 minutes later, I heard something coming down the draw behind me.  It wasn't walking like a human would, so I figured it was a deer.  I had no cover to my rear, so if I moved, I would get busted for sure.  All I could do was sit still and wait to see what the deer did.

As the deer got further downhill, it moved closer to my position.  By the time it got even with me in the draw, it was only about 10 or 15 yards away.  I caught a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye, and counted 3 or 4 widely spaced points on the side that was facing me. 

OK, it's a shooter.   I eased over to get my rifle, and began to draw it across my body to get a shot at it.  I was hoping to either catch it broadside or quartering away. 

However, Mr. Murphy stepped in.  My rifle caught a small branch that was sticking out of the tree, and it swung back and forth.  When Mr. Buck saw that, he took off, and no amount of bleating or grunting on my part could get him to stop or even slow down.

I'm proud of myself for not taking a shot at a running deer.  When the deer moved, I brought my rifle up and started to aim, but sanity took over and I didn't even look through the scope.

After calming down and sitting for a while to see if the buck had any followers, I picked up and headed up the ridge to see if my friend had any luck.  He hadn't seen anything, but his daughter had seen a small doe for a couple of seconds right after day break.

As we walked out to get lunch, we saw the most buck sign that either of us had ever seen.  I lost count of all the rubs we saw, and there were over a dozen large scrapes in the couple of hundred yards we walked. 

After lunch, we headed back down the draw to see if anything came up as the day got warmer.  No luck, but we found even more sign and a large bedding area.  I marked that on my map for later.

So, no joy in the hunting ground, but a good time was had by all.  I plan on going back to that area to bow hunt when it re-opens in December, and hopefully I'll get a bit of luck.  Hopefully we'll get drawn to hunt Fort Knox again next year.  It's the nicest area I've ever hunted.

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