Tuesday, 20 November 2012

A Good Weekend

On Remembrance Day long weekend, I headed down south to Pincher Creek to visit J & A and hopefully grab another deer. I had just picked up a rifle the weekend before - a Tikka synthetic/stainless 270 - and I was super-pumped to take 'er out for a spin. I was a little confused to arrive at an empty house, but got a text a minute later from Andrea: they'd be there soon, once they finished dragging back the deer Jesse just shot. A good omen for the weekend! They were pretty far from the house, so we only had the quarters & backstraps to hang.
First deer of the weekend. Note the makeshift emergency blanket game bags. Nicely done, team!
Otis gets his first taste of wild game of the year.
We went inside to have quick victory shot of bourbon before getting suited up and heading back out to find a deer for myself. While we were inside, Otis decided that a bit of neck meat wasn't good enough for him, and he managed to push his way into the garage and proceeded to inhale about 5 pounds of meat that we'd just hung up. He slinked back inside, looking guilty, and then vomited everything back up. It will be an everlasting source of regret that I didn't take a picture of the steaming pile of undigested - unchewed, actually - venison. 

Jesse surveys the damage

The balaclava of shame
Banished outside

Well, with that mess out of the way, it was back out looking for more deer, in the same area as we had hunted last year. One spot in particular looked familiar... it was right where I missed a chance at a doe last year because I was too shaky to pull the trigger. Right on cue, I spotted a deer just as we arrived at that spot, but she was already on the run. Of course, there's no way to know if it was the same doe as last year, but it sure felt like she was toying with me. We covered a bit more ground that evening, but didn't see any other deer. Tons of sign though - fresh tracks and beds all over the place, so I was feeling pretty good about our prospects for the next day.

We headed out again in the morning, this time in a different area right on top of the river valley; it was all open areas and aspen stands. After wandering around for a bit, we decided to head back to the conifer forest we were in the afternoon before to get out of the strong wind. Just then I spotted what looked to be a deer's midsection in an aspen stand, maybe 150-200 yards away. I'd been imagining seeing things all morning, but this time I was pretty sure. Yep, it was a doe, wandering around and feeding in some pretty thick brush, and she hadn't spotted us yet. From where we were standing, there was a crosswind, but she was moving downwind of us so we had to move to get into shooting position.

There was a ~20-foot deep gully between us and the deer, so we went into full-on stealth mode and bee-lined for the gully and dropped into it. I slowly creeped up the other side, slowing down as I reached the top so I could poke my head and scope up to take a look. Didn't see her right away, so I kept creeping up and forward until I spotted a deer-coloured patch, which promptly jumped and took a few steps. Dang. I shouldered my rifle and watched. There were 2 does, but I didn't have a shot until one of them moved forward from behind a tree. The first one quickly skipped ahead into some thicker cover, as the second doe stepped right into my lane. 

We were fortunately really close to a road, so Andrea and Linnea (and Otis) came to pick us up, which saved us a lot of sweat from having to drag the deer through 50cm-deep snow. Phew! 

Don't even think about it, O.
Re-enacting my stealth approach from the gully bottom

Back to the house for more bourbon! We talked about heading out again in the afternoon, but needed a snack first. We just sat around inside for a bit, staring out the window and wondering if a deer would ever be so unfortunate as to walk by while we were in there. We ended up getting a bit lazy and decided to just kick back with a game of Puerto Rico instead. 2 deer in 2 days was a pretty successful weekend, right? Why get greedy? Our weekend was complete. We finished up our game and were cleaning up, right when we spotted a pair of deer... right. outside. the window. In the aspen stand, maybe 30 yds from the house. Wait, not a pair of deer - it was 3. Nope, 4.... 5.... 6 deer. Jesse's long dreamed-of chance was at hand.

Plotting diabolically
Jesse grabbed his rifle and ran out into the driveway as the rest of us sat inside, crouched down and peering over the window sill, watching and waiting for the shot. He took it, and one doe in the group crumpled.
Jesse's lucky underwear
Now our weekend was complete. We had to butcher Jesse's deer that day because they were heading out of town (plus the whole "9 grizzly bears on the neighbour's land last week" that made hanging deer in the shed an unwise proposition).

Still exiled

Next morning, I packed up my doe and we headed back to Edmonton. 2 years in a row in Pincher. Need to make this an annual tradition!

Good job, Versa!

Home sweet (3°) home
Last week was perfect hanging weather in Edmonton - never got below -8 or above +3. I set up a little space heater in the garage to keep the temp around 2-3 degrees at nights, and we butchered her on Sunday. Oh, and one last public service announcement: brand-new boning knives are absurdly sharp. The annual blood sacrifice thus given, and the hunting season was brought to a close.