Guns of the Hunt - sounds like it could be the title of a Capstick or Ruark book, or maybe even something by Theodore Roosevelt - a title that is more than just about guns, and more than just about the hunt. Truth be told though, for the purposes of this blog, while there may be some talk of guns there is no great hunting story - at least not yet. You see the hunt has not yet begun, at least not this season's deer hunt. I was lucky enough to get away over the weekend to do some scouting for deer sign and found plenty of it. As could be expected of me, I brought along a few guns just in case. In case of what? You know in case I stumbled across a turkey that was lost or a squirrel with a death wish. I actually almost came across a flock of turkeys. As I was scouting out hunting area and hiking at the same time with my trusty Remington 870. I heard a raucous commotion in the woods not far ahead. There were leaves rustling madly, branches cracking and what sounded like antlers banging into one another. I was sure, I mean absolutely certain, that I was about to sneak up on two buck locked in combat. What happened was not quite what I had expected. I got close to the commotion, even saw some branches moving in the undergrowth. Then nothing so I sat down with a good sized tree to my back and waited. Then I heard some turkeys cackling or whatever they call it. Not gobbling, this was more like hen chatter. After about 10 minutes I chattered back as best I could. Next thing you know, I was talking turkey to a turkey and yes it was answering me. This went on for about 20 to 30 minutes, then dead silence. After another minute or two I could hear what sounded like several birds walking away from me very stealthily. I guess I screwed up and either they saw me or I cackled too many times. I figure they were not more than 40 to 50 yards away and even thought I caught a brief glimpse of one as they approached me - then as I said - they took off in another direction. Oh well, the hunt is most assuredly not just about the kill. I had a great time and cannot remember having that much anticipation in a long time. Well maybe almost as much as when I thought it was two bucks engaged in combat! As a matter of fact, I am none too sure there had not been two bucks dueling it out; the sound of antlers rattling together was unmistakable and I cannot imagine a turkey making a noise like that. Now the bucks may have been right near a flock of turkeys - for all I know they were spectators as I had hoped to be. Really folks, this is no tall tale -this is how I perceived it while in the woods. Of course, there is a chance all that noise was being made by another hunter but he would have to have been mighty foolish to have been trying to rattle deer and talk turkey and take the chance of getting both a deer hunter and a turkey hunter thinking he was what they were seeking. Actually, there was turkey and deer sign all around, so I figure it may have been both types of animal making all the noise and they were close to one another by coincidence or because of a mutual food source.
Now, back to those guns, after all I said there was no hunting story here - didn't I! I brought three guns on my weekend trip: the Remington 870 mentioned above - mainly for turkey, a Ruger 10/22 All Weather (my son's) - mainly for squirrel, a Sig in .40 S&W caliber - mainly as a self defense carry sidearm. The Sig came with me everywhere, the 870 was with me in the woods just about every minute I was out there, and the Ruger - well it stayed in the car except for a short hike during which I hoped to bad a squirrel or two. I did not seen even one. That is okay though because I did see lots of something for which I was looking and that would be plenty of deer sign.
Thanks to this second, or is it my third scouting trip prior to this season's opening, I have a pretty good place selected from which to do some whitetail deer hunting. Being it is on state land there is always the chance someone else will have his big fat butt seated right on the spot that I selected for my big fat butt and for Brendan's much slimmer butt but those are the chances one must face when hunting on public land. I marked off the spot and two stands with orange tape and am hopeful no one else will tear it down or be attracted to my spot by it. I do not care if others hunt nearby, I just figure that they should respect me and the work I did in finding the spot just as I would respect them likewise and therefore am hopeful they will steer clear of it. A good thing about this particular spot is that it is not more than a few hundred yards from the road right where I will be parked. I like not having to drag a deer too far, and this spot is great for that. It is also full of deer sign. There were tracks all over the place, several rubs and a few scrapes. Some of the scrapes are only feet from where there were others last year. Chances are the same buck made them then and this year. Of course, there is a good chance there are doe tracks in the mix of those tracks I saw. As we have an anterless deer permit, I would be more than happy to bag a doe. I am pretty sure Brendan would take either a buck or a doe but being this would be his first deer you can bet I'll pass up any shot I could take on a buck that he can also get his sights on.
We will be leaving on Thursday afternoon. That way we get to hunt the last day of turkey season on Friday. Deer season opens Saturday. With two of us going, I suppose the chances are that more guns will be with us than I had with me this past weekend. Figure my Sig .40, the Remington 870 for deer and maybe turkey and maybe squirrel too, my Marlin 336 in .35 Remington for deer, Brendan's Ruger 10/22 or my Marlin 25MN in .22 WMR (for squirrels), and maybe one of my Mosin Nagants for deer if I am feeling frisky. I may also throw a .22 pistol into the mix for fun. Of course, the chances of us using them all are remote on a three or 4 day hunt, but I like the motto - 'Be Prepared'. Then again, not all of them may fit in the trunk of the Corolla with all our other gear in there but I have been known to be a wiz at packing a trunk and getting more stuff I'd never need into one - just in case. Thursday will tell but it is a safe bet that the 870, the 336 and at least one rifle in .22LR or WMR is also making the trip. Of course, so too will a sidearm. Hopefully whatever we bring for the hunt will not fail at the critical moment (yes that means I am also hopeful there will be that moment of opportunity for a shot at a nice deer) and at least one of us will bag Christmas dinner. You all know me well enough to realize that if only one of us has a shot, I am hopeful it will be Brendan.
Safe and happy hunting,
The HMS Prince of Wales
6 minutes ago