Walked into Brady's coffee after the morning hunt still wearing my Swiss alpenflage jumpsuit and looking for a package. (Alpenflage is the most expressionistic color and pattern scheme I have ever seen. It's a perfect match for Northeast Texas Fall.) I walked around a crowd at the door until one of them looked at me and said "Not speaking?"
"You can SEE me???!!!" I exclaimed?
Sneed drove over and we rattled up an abandoned road across the creekbottom for the evening hunt. The Doctor hadn't ever seen a good representation of rattling horns. Nothing showed but he said he could close his eyes and see the two bucks going at it.
Friday I passed on a large 8-point I rattled up at 8:30 am. First he stood in a slot I had cut through the thicket, then as he came around the end I got the rifle up and he stepped into my crosshairs 40 yards out. Wide open sideways shot. He was big and I had my finger on the trigger with 44 grains of Varget and a Sierra 130 Gameking under it, but I let him go. He looked about 17 inches inside with eight nice tines, very pretty symetrical rack. He never made me. Three years ago I would have shot him dog nuts dead in his tracks. He looked very wide and square as he cantered away. Alan's doetags saved his life.
Friday lunch I walked up a deserted road closed by a couple of huge pine trunks looking for fresh sign. I was quiet, but moving. I paused for one step to look ahead and realized there were six deer crossing the road right where I stood. A fawn was in the lead- she didn't know what to make of me (Alpenflage!) and nobody else believed her. They got a little cross but nobody flagged or snorted- they just worked around to the right. My observation is that deer in groups tend to watch each other more than they watch out around them. Both does were snapping at the fawns. They are weaning.
This morning Sneed and I were out of the lakehouse at first light and set up in a chilly 45 degree dawn. After the sun came up, we saw the biggest buck I have ever seen at the lake walk the fence line. There wasn't a shot except a couple of quick ones and I was spotting and rattling while the Doctor ran the rifle. Quite the deer though. Bigger than Big Ten. Couple of fawns were bopping around looking lost. I think their mom had finally dumped them for romance.
At lunch, we shot our rifles 500 yards at the 31 West range. We had targets, spotters, walky-talkies and a plan. One of us stayed at the target and marked and the other shot. Sneed has some great rifles- Remington 800s and a custom job. After him I shot some little light Sierra 110 Matchkings and then my hunting load out of my little Ruger #1 with its 16 inch barrel. If you've never done this with spotters, a good spotting scope and some help at the target, its a trip. I've shot a lot of 500 and 600 yard shooting but that's unusual. Funny, with my AR I wouldn't expect to be out of the 10 ring at 500 yards...ever, but with a scoped deer rifle you hardly expect to be on the paper. I could see a big muzzle flash as the powder burned in front of my short Ruger. I didn't see any flash at all with Sneed's 24 inch Rem 700. Most deer rifles don't get shot 100 rounds a decade. I doubt either of us would take a shot over 200 yards, but we've got experience at it if we needed to.
When we came out the pistol folks had left and locked the gate leaving us behind it without a key or combination. It would be a good time to throw a fit: far from home, schedule disrupted, they knew we were back there, et, et. Instead we just kept chiseling away at the problem until we found a phone number for someone who helped from the other end. Sneed has life figured out. He's grateful, and says so, for things done for him and without complaint when life throws a curve. Good guy.
If you want to hear God laugh, just tell him your plans.
Hunted this afternoon and watched some young deer float around in the tall grass. Lost them often but it was a 1 1/2 year four point old buck and a little doe who kept trying to entice him into chasing her. I think the rut is starting. He just didn't know what to do. They materialized out of nowhere in the pasture just as a mangy looking possum walked by close enough to touch with a rifle barrel. Two hours of silent sitting, then sensory overload.
Today I finally felt like I am getting into hunting shape. Climbing trees, rattling horns, sitting upright, still and alert for hours, carrying a slung rifle, bag and binocs around. Nothing is sore or hurting anymore. Between rattling on the abandoned road I laid back on the leaves and looked the the fall leaves against the evening sky. What a November it is!
Sneed recalled the story of a Turkana tribesman fishing on Lake Turkana in Africa. The fellow stood on the end of a gravel spit and threw a spear on a string into a wave every time it broke over the end of the jetty. Then he would pull it back in and wait for the next wave. There were no fish visible in the wave or in the water. When asked about his fishing technique, he simply explained that God would send a fish to its fate and his dinner when God decided to.