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Putting Some Venison on the Table
The fall of 2020 seemed a little like a nightmare as the whole family had Covid and it hit me the hardest. Then when you toss in this hand issue, it just seems that everything has been compounded. The issues that surrounded my Covid meant that I would miss about a month of the waterfowl season and the Regular and Antlerless season of Missouri Whitetail hunting. But with so many losing so much, it seems a little petty to whine about missing hunting opportunities. Mostly I am just grateful to the Almighty for my recovery, as well as family and especially my dear wife for nursing me back and putting up with perhaps the worst patient that anyone has had to deal with. We were able to get together for the Holidays and we have been able to worship pretty regularly, so there have been some bright spots.
I would be able to hunt the final three weeks or so of the waterfowl season and the Canada goose season remains open, so there will be the opportunity to put out some field goose decoys, as well as my layout blinds. My deer hunting would have to be in the Alternative Methods season, which ran from December 26, 2020 until January 5, 2021. My first evening of hunting I would see four deer. I would see two does at perhaps three hundred plus yards, which was much too far for my CVA Wolf .50 caliber muzzleloader. Then I had two bucks come out within range of my muzzleloader, but they appeared after the legal shooting time had passed, so all I could do was watch them feed in the harvested corn field I was hunting over. Three more hunts left me wondering if there were any deer remaining as I wouldn’t see any deer at all. However, the tracks in the snow meant that deer were still feeding in the snow just not coming out while I was on my stand.
During a conversation with a good friend, he told me the deer were coming out and feeding on the bean field on his farm if I was interested. I thanked him, but I really wanted to take a deer on our small acreage. As the Alternative Methods season was winding down, I scrapped my original plans and begged an invite to the friend’s farm. So on the last day, my friend drove me out to one of his very comfortable stands and dropped me off. In the conversation we had driving to the stand, he felt pretty confident I would see deer, but since I would be watching over a fairly large harvested bean field the question would be if the deer would feed within range of my muzzleloader before the season would wind down. The generous friend said I could take whatever I wanted be it buck or doe and I replied I would be very happy with a mature doe for burger for chili and spaghetti, as well as some deer bologna that we could make at home.
I had gotten in the stand pretty early as I didn’t want to spook anything if they were already in the field. It was a very nice afternoon with the sun hitting the elevated box stand making it hard to stay awake in the warmth of the stand. I spent the first hour watching four Fox squirrels feed in the bean field. But it was very easy to see from the pawed up snow that it wasn’t only squirrels that were feeding in the snow for beans. As it got later, I maintained the warmth of the blind by turning on my Buddy heater and it did a great job.
I had gotten a couple texts from my friend asking how it was going and if I was seeing anything. Sunset was at 4:53 P.M. with shooting hours running till a half an hour after sunset, meaning I had until 5:23 p.m., but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can still see to shoot if it would happen to be a cloudy or foggy evening. I would text him back at a little before 4:00 p.m. that I had seen three deer already. They had entered the far end of the field I was watching and about every four or five minutes another deer had entered the field at a pinch point, which was the narrowest gap between two timbers that surrounded the field. I glassed the deer until they went out of sight around the bend. Well, at least I wasn’t skunked as far as deer sightings.
For nearly the next hour I continued to watch the squirrels without seeing any more deer. I had pretty well ruled out getting a shot when suddenly I noticed deer had returned to the far end of the field and were feeding along a field road that had some grass exposed out of the snow. But while just seeing the deer was enjoyable, I knew I was fighting the clock as far as the deer feeding within shooting distance of my stand. It was now ten minutes to five meaning I had 33 minutes and the deer were not really heading my way. At perhaps five o’clock, the biggest doe went out into the bean field and at least was feeding my way although she had at least two hundred yards to go before I could even consider taking a shot. There were now four deer feeding some distance away, but just two of them were working their way towards me. Time seemed to be flying as one of the deer turned and fed towards the field road that my stand was sitting alongside of. The biggest doe remained in the bean field, but the excitement was building as I now guessed her to be within shooting distance of 125 yards or less. As long as she continued to come my way I wouldn’t take the shot. I checked my phone one last time before sliding my CVA Wolf out the window, it was 5:09. While I was going to wait to take the shot, the mature doe had other plans and turned and took a couple steps back to my left. I didn’t know if she was planning on feeding back where she had come from, but I couldn’t risk it.
I pulled the hammer back on the muzzleloader that I had loaded with two pellets of 50 grains of White Hots Black Powder, on which rested on my .50 cal. saboted bullet by Hornady. My crosshairs followed up the doe’s front leg and then settled slightly behind the shoulder and once steady, I pulled the trigger. The smoke obscured my vision for an instant, but I heard the bullet strike home and when I next saw the doe she was walking towards the timber. She almost made it before collapsing. I called my friend and he came and helped me clean the large doe and load her up. The fall which had been tough ended on a high note as I put venison in the freezer and had, as the old Beatles song goes, gotten “by with a little help from my friends.”