By Dave O’Connor
Deer hunting is a fun way to spend a few days even if you come home without any venizon. But, some truely memorable hunts stick inside the brain for decades. There was the huge buck I was tracking in heavy snow. He stood up. I fired. I was so sure I had killed him that I never jacked in a second round and watched him run unscathed across an East Corinth cornfield. I tracked him for hours expecting to see blood. I missed him fair and square.
There was the time I parked my pickup on the East Branch of the Penobscot, put hat and vest on, loaded the Savage .308, put on the safety and turned down a woods road. Two steps later I had an eight pointed come out of the woods about 50 feet away. I fired. He dropped. I backed the pickup truck up to him, flipped the tailgate, gutted him out, loaded him in and the hunt was over for the year.
It goes both ways…and often in between. Let me tell you the tale of a 4 day Vetran’s Day weekend. We were all young. Three guys, two girls. All were serious deer hunters. One of the girls had an uncle with a spacious cabin in Moosehead deer country. The five of us were like brothers and sisters with a common goal, to get a deer.
Food was bought, guns sighted in, the girls had their bedroom. We had spread out the guys in the other two bedrooms. Dawn was awaiting. It was snowing a little the first night, but not really enough to track deer in the morning’s light. We decided to split up in various directions. I took the edge of a humongus cedar swamp. I also got first chance. A small six pointer flew by me as though running from the others. I fired after getting a bead on him in the scope. I think he was jumping down while I was firing up. Never touched a hair. Oh, well, we had four days out with a full camp day on Sunday. It was going to be fun.
About noon I heard two quick shots about a mile away. I spent the rest of the day hanging near the cedar fringe. I jumped a cow moose. Nothing else. When I got back to the cabin one of the girls had an adult doe hanging from the game pole and one of the guys had a nice buck…solid eight pointer. Two out of five already. Wow! We celebrated with deer heart, onions, deer liver and baked beans with plenty of biscuits and hot coffee.
Just three of us went out the next morning and I got lucky. My Winchester 94 in .30-30 with 4831 handloads and a 170 grain Hornady flat nose caught up with another eight pointer about a mile from camp. We all slapped each other on the back, knew we had plenty of winter venison…and had new stories to tell. Three out of five now had a deer at the end of just two days. Fabulous.
The next morning I made breakfast, the two other hunters went hunting. I cut and split firewood all morning. About noon I heard three staggered shots. An hour later the second girl arrived with a small antlered buck with two holes through the forward shoulders. That left one deer to go. Sunday was lay around day and we cleaned the camp, readied wood, took pictures by the game pole and ate ourselves silly. Monday the lone guy still hunting was out at dawn. He was back three hours later…nice doe, good winter meat and he had completed a deer hunting trip I have never equaled. Five hunters. Five deer. All in walking distance of the same Moosehead cabin. I’ll never forget.
Dave O’Connor is an award-winning author with 44 years of experience. He is also a photographer, camper and artic adventurer with more than 170 trips to this continent’s farest reaches. He can be reached year around via email at: [email protected]