With Tony’s deer in the freezer, I was able to scout to my heart’s content over the remaining bow season and the weekends in between then and gun season.
Opening day of gun season would fall on my birthday. It wasn’t the first or last time that would happen–and all of them were memorable–but this one most of all.
We awoke on opening morning to almost every hunter’s dream–4” of wet snow and little wind. I had been intrigued by a particular hill east of town because I thought deer were transitioning there between a hill where they fed and another where they bedded. So foregoing my previous scouting, I decided this snow would prove my theory right or wrong.
I started climbing up a fairly steep grade, and in no time I was in two sets of tracks. I figured they were does, but with the rut on, they were worth following. In the next 5 minutes I caught up to them where they were bedded, and I got a good look at them as they bolted up the hill.
Right where they were was a third set of tracks. It was obviously a buck, and needless to say, fresh. I tracked him for a good deal of time. It became obvious that I had spooked him, so now I concentrated on getting to know his turf. After I thought I had a handle on it, I headed out to make ready for the afternoon hunt. On my way out, I was surprised to see the buck’s track in my track. It was plain that he was tracking and winding me at the same time. He knew exactly where I was every minute.
I went back to the motel and declared to all that I was going to get my birthday buck that afternoon. I asked for a volunteer to go with me to help drag it out and maybe get a shot at him too. Jim offered his services. I was not as confident as I made it sound, but I knew that I had a handle on this buck and his M.O.
Jim and I split up about halfway to where I had jumped the does. He would be below me. I have no idea how much time passed exactly, but it was less than a half hour I’m sure, when I reached the spot where the buck had tracked me earlier. A few minutes more and I was above the bowl where he had made several scrapes.
Knowing that he liked to know where I was at all times, I kept taking glances at my back track. Sure enough, there he was with his nose buried in my track, about 40 yards behind me–a very nice Vermont 6-pointer with an almost ivory-colored rack. I got off a good shot into his neck before he dashed off. He didn’t go far.
Between the snow and Jim, the downhill drag was one of the easiest I ever had. This capped off one of the most memorable seasons of my life.