Friday, December 30, 2011

Deer Season: One Day Left. Will It Happen?
Today was the second to last day to get out and fill my California A31 tag. We got an early start and began hiking in well before sunrise. The temps were higher than expected and we were perspiring quite a bit, but the hike felt great.

On the way in we spotted a few sets of eyes. My guess is coyotes, but they quickly disappeared. As we headed up the foothill we encountered another set of eyes that did not move. We watched it as we climbed and soon we figured it out to be a bedded deer. Then she got up and walked slowly away from us. I had a feeling we'd see her again just by the way she wasn't startled by us.

When we got in position, an hour before sunrise, was when the fun started. I set up my turkey blind for cover and put a couple of rewetting drops in my eyes. My contacts were acting funky because of the dry air and they needed some moisture. As soon as the drops hit my eyes I felt something crawling on my eyelid. As I grabbed it, thinking it was a tick, I heard it clicking. I quickly flung it to get it away and that's when it hit me. It dawned on me, as it was leaving my fingers, that my contact had popped out and THAT was what was flying through the air. I then spent three minutes searching the dirt and grass for a brand new contact. I eventually found it, cleaned it and popped it back in. All while feeling like a complete twit.

Forty-five minutes before sunrise I noticed a dark shape off to my left. As I focused through the darkness, I noticed it to be a single doe. Very, very dark body and I knew it was the doe from earlier. She spent a few minutes walking down the trail and stopped at sixty yards. She was broadside, but it was still long before shooting light, so I sat back and watched her. She didn't stick around long and walked back over the ridge. Good stuff!

We glassed up five other deer over the next couple hours. Michael watched a group of four doe bed down off a steep cliff. He shot me a text and I loaded my pack and sauntered over to his position. It was getting very warm and I was getting hot. We discussed where they were and how hard a stalk would be given their position, the wind and the dry grass. I thought about it for ten minutes and then figured that I had to try. Game on.

I spent the better part of thirty minutes slowly creeping down the steep hillside. My foot placement was carefully planned because I knew rattlesnakes would be out. Slowly and methodically I stalked. I got to the cliff and peered over. There was one fo the does locked on to me. She turned her head and I ranged her at 31 yards. If she turned broadside I was going to release an arrow. She turned, but away and moved behind some grass. I waited five minutes for her to move, but she took off. I couldn't see the other does. That is, until they got spooked and took off in the same direction. They had been around twenty yards, right below me, but I couldn't see them due to the sheer face of the overhang. Even though it didn't result in a shot, I was still pumped for a good stalk. This area is super hard to put a stalk on and it felt great to get so close!

I hiked back up the steep hill and met up with Michael. After guzzling some water, downing some grapes and chatting, we decided to hit the trail. It was getting hot and our experience in this area had the deer moving only in the mornings. Our hunt for this day was over, but tomorrow will be the test. It's the last day of my deer season and I am hoping to get out there and go after them again.

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