17 Nov Don’t Let Bad Weather Keep You From Hunting
when it is hard to hunt! Most outdoorsmen are fair weather sportsmen. Anyone can enjoy, and survive, a long day outdoors when the weather is nice, warm, dry, and comfortable. These kinds of days are often lazy days for the hunter, and the critters. Most critters just bed down and relax. Fair weather hunters often do the same.
A weather front was moving in as my partner and I ventured out for a day of chasing deer. Hunting would not be easy on this day. Changes in weather, and barometric pressure, often make the animals move. They either feed more or move to a more sheltered area. The ground already was covered in snow and fresh tracks were everywhere.
I picked out a fresh set of buck tracks and began to stalk him. The tracks were rounded at the toe, wide, large and heavy. The track pattern was spaced to indicate that it was a nice buck. A short distance later, I found a fresh pile of scat and concentrated urine mark in the snow. The buck was relaxed and moving easily, with a purpose.
The weather front was getting close and the winds, clouds, and temperature drop told me that the buck was probably moving toward a thick stand of pines, where he would weather out the storm. The wind was swirling, and I tried to get above and in front of the buck before he entered his sanctuary. After finding an overlook, that allowed me to sit and scan the area, I waited.
After a long cold, wet, and miserable hour, I spotted movement with my binoculars. There was the buck at 100 yards or so slipping slowly through the field below me. He was almost invisible. The only movement I saw was a flick of an ear and antler.
The rifle was ready, and I watched the buck proceed slowly toward the thick pines. There was only a small window where I could get a clean shot at his whole side. My hands, fingers and feet were freezing! Sitting in the freezing weather had taken its toll.
Hunters are driven to wait for hours to experience moments of intense excitement. Time to buck it up and finish the deal. The buck stepped into the opening and stopped. My safety was already off as I took a deep breath, let half out, steadied the rifle and slowly squeezed the trigger. It was not a long shot, but it was a tough shot, due the conditions.
The buck was no where to be seen. The rain was now heavy snow and blowing in the harsh and cold winds. I walked to the clearing, and looked for blood. The trail lead into the thick pines. There laying at the edge was a beautiful 8-point buck. Several feet away was an old bed near a few old buck rubs. The bed overlooked the whole valley and was out of the wind and weather.
The storm was growing stronger as I dressed, and tagged, this great deer. There was no way I was going to get him off that mountain in the storm. I threw a rope over a high tree branch and hoisted him up. He would cool down and be away from most predators.
Now I had to worry about me and my partner. The snow was almost a blizzard now. Visibility was limited, and I needed to take a compass bearing to know which direction to travel in this whiteout. The road was up hill and maybe a mile away. Slowly, I made my way along a fence line to the road. Once there, I hoped to locate my truck and hunting partner. After a cold, slippery, climb, I found the road. A muffled sound of a motor was coming toward me. My buddy figured I was in the area and had began looking for me. Jumping into that warm truck was awesome after the hard hunt. We made it back to camp and weathered the storm. The other hunters had stayed by the woodstove as the storm was bearing down on us. They were safe and comfortable but also had unfilled tags.
The next morning, we retrieved the buck and dragged it along a fence line that led to where we could load it into the truck. We were soon back at camp with our tagged trophy just in time for breakfast. The rest of the day was warm, comfortable, and clear. The other excited hunters in camp were afield hunting in the perfect weather. That evening they reported lots of tracks but saw no deer. They should have hunted hard when it was hard to hunt.
Hunt hard, hunt harder!
For more Montana Grant, visit his blog at www.montanagrantfishing.com.