Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Hunting Season: The First Three Days

The Pennsylvania rifle season for deer is three days old.

The weather has been...odd.

Monday morning it was 50 degrees when I got out at 6 AM. That didn't last for long as a fog rolled in from the north around 7 AM and, while the fog lifted later in the day as the wind continued to blow steadily, the temperatures dropped. It was down to 35 when I came back to the house at 4 PM.

I saw one deer in the morning, in the fog, just as he saw me. He did a 180 and disappeared into the fog/hemlocks before I had a chance to raise my rifle. Later in the day I heard two shots off to the west and a short time later a red fox came trotting from that direction and got to within 10 yards of where I sat when it cut my odor, did a 90 and took the same trail the deer did off to the hemlocks. Then there were two more shots from off to the west. A short time later, a buck came down off the ridge and stopped on the trail below me. (The slope is quite steep--about 45 degrees--in front of me.) The deer stopped on the other side of some brush but I thought I had a chance at a 75 yard shot. I stood and he looked right at me. I rushed my shot a bit, making a rookie mistake of "aiming big" instead of small. When I fired, the buck lit out like his tail was on fire. No indication that I had hit him, but I started down the hill to check. At that moment, I found out why he had come down the hill. A neighboring hunter came down the hill from the same direction. He never stopped to talk or anything but went on his way. When I got to where the buck was standing, I looked for any sign of a hit. There was none. But there was a clear trail of hoof prints in the soft earth where the buck had sprinted. I walked along that track but found no blood sign at all. That's when I called it a day.

Tuesday morning was clear but much colder with the temperature sitting at 28 degrees at 6 AM. I went back to my seat on the hill but with heavier clothing. At around 9 AM two, maybe three, doe came up behind me from the northeast. In my management unit, I can't shoot doe during the first week of the season so I wasn't too disappointed when the made me and bound off into the thick woods behind them. Meanwhile, the sky was darkening as clouds blew in from the southwest. At 1 AM the wintery mix started and got progressively heavier. After a short time, I could see even heavier snow/sleet falling across the valley to the northwest. I opted to go back to the cabin. There had been very few shots heard all morning so I wasn't the only one experiencing a quiet day in the field.

All the snow we had for Thanksgiving was gone by Monday afternoon; all 6-8 inches of it. I watched the last few patches in the shady areas of the woods disappear as I sat. Tuesday walking in the woods was like walking on cornflakes. Every step resulted in a "crunch." (Not that the noisemaker of a ground cover did me any good. Besides the doe, I saw/heard nothing except a pair of territorial gray squirrels fighting forty yards away.) It snow/sleeted all evening and we ended up getting about an inch and a half of heavy, wet white stuff on the ground.

This morning I slept in and did some housework. And heard not one shot anywhere. The sky remained overcast all day with the temperatures just above freezing. I could see the snow further down the hill disappear while the woods and lawn around the Aerie remained white. They must have had more rain while we got snow. Pretty common here. Terry says there was nothing on the roads when she went to get the mail and got to Curves.

I'll be heading back to the woods tomorrow. It's supposed to be in the low 30s and partly cloudy. I'm hoping the wind stays down. It swirls like crazy and even scent killer doesn't always help.


Rev. Paul said...

Crummy weather you've got there. Better luck on the next good day!

joated said...

I'm hoping that day is Thursday, Paul. This getting up at 5:30 AM (better than the 3:30 AM I had to get up in NJ!) then sitting in all that fresh air all day is getting to me!