Sometimes You Have to Take the Shot
Russ Chastain 12.22.19
My 2019 deer hunting was interesting, to say the least. And the season isn’t over yet. My first hunt was with muzzleloaders (both old and new), and you can read about that with all its highs and lows (the coyotes ate my first kill, but I ended up with a most unique buck) by following this link. After a short break, I headed back to the property to hunt the rut with modern guns.
After getting unpacked and setting up camp, I slipped on out to the woods for a quick hunt. I sat for an hour and a half and saw 3 bucks, 2 does, and a fawn. Not a bad start!
I took this photo on my first evening hunt; there are five deer feeding in the plot.
(Photo © Russ Chastain)
Unfortunately, the action didn’t last. The following day was pretty slow, and the day after that the only deer I saw all day was a little spike buck. By the following afternoon, I was plumb ready to see some action. I decided to hunt a large food plot in hopes the rut would kick in and a mature buck would come sniffing around after a doe. It had worked before; that’s where I took the big buck pictured at the top of my review of Deer Season XP 308 ammo when he followed a doe out onto the field.
I was settled into the stand early at 12:41 PM, and was soon glad I had chosen that particular stand — because it has a roof! When the rain set in, it was surely nice to stay reasonably dry as I waited. And it was a good two hours before a deer arrived; a small (and hungry) doe fawn.
Although I was primarily buck hunting, I also wanted to take a nice doe — not only for management purposes but to help feed my local gun shop owner. Hey, it never hurts to keep on the good side of the person who handles all my FFL transfers!
I wanted a doe, but I didn’t want just any doe. A summer-long drought had left many of our does in poor condition, so skinny their ribs and other bones showed clearly as they moved. I was not interested in taking one of those — and besides, it seemed that all the bony deer were still nursing fawns.
The doe I wanted was the fifth one to arrive. And I’m pretty sure it was meant to be.
After spending so much time in that stand with deer feeding all around me, I’d become careless… and when I raised the rifle to scope the larger-bodied deer that had just stepped out into the open 115 yards south of me, one of the does much closer blew and ran north along with two other deer.
Three other deer — two does and a fawn — had entered the field at the same spot from which this large doe had just emerged. At the sound of the alarm blow, all of those deer skedaddled. I expected the large doe to do the same.
Instead, she turned around 180 degrees. I was now looking at her left side. She stood stock-still, broadside, and waited.
I did not rush. I scooched the rifle around to avoid a small limb between the stand and the deer. After watching young and small deer for so long, the sight of a mature deer is unmistakable. This doe looked as long as a boxcar as it continued to look my way steadily without twitching an ear or blinking an eye.
She seemed to know what was coming, and was ready. I could almost hear the deer saying, “Make this fast and clean, mister. My teeth hurt, and I’m done here.”
With one bark of the little Savage 308, she dropped like a rock and barely moved. Like many others, this deer was taken with Winchester Deer Season XP 150-grain bullets. It always does the job.
I aged the old gal at 6.5 and she would’ve been heavier than 115 pounds if not for the aforementioned drought.
Any day you take a mature deer is a good day… and as I said, this was meant to be. Sometimes, you just have to take the shot.
I kept hunting for more than a week without ever laying eyes on a shooter buck. I had some good days and some better days, but it’s tough to have a bad day when you’re hunting.
I took a couple more deer and a big ol’ coyote on my next trip… but I’ll tell those stories another time.
Here’s hoping you’ve had a great deer season, too.