Holiday Weekend Recap

As I have stated previously, one of the biggest reasons that I bought my compound bow is because we gunnies only get a few weeks that we can shoot deer in Oklahoma, versus the three and a half months that those nasty archers get. Obviously the only way to play the system is to disguise myself as an archer. And yet, here we are, half-way through the monolithic deer archery season, which does envelope all other deer seasons, by the way, and my bow still has yet to taste blood. I’ve been out with it plenty, but for one reason or another, it just hasn’t happened.

Thursday was insane, as Thanksgiving tends to be. That morning, one of my close friends from high school come by for breakfast. She’s one of the few people that Jennifer and I each knew before we knew each other, and she’s the only one of those that we still maintain contact with. We drank several varieties of coffee brewed in the French press, sampled a little tequila, and some nice English tobacco, as well as some Nat Sherman Classics. I know, I know. I never said that I wouldn’t have an occasional smoke. It really is just an occasional thing now. Breakfast consisted of blueberry bagels with cream cheese and lox. From there, we buzzed off to my grandparents’ house where my parents had prepared the full Thanksgiving spread, including pumpkin pie. I’m usually good for about one slice of pumpkin pie per year. My grandpa was lucid enough. He knew who everyone was, and both of my grandparents were quite pleased to see everyone. That evening we went to Jennifer’s parents’ house. By the end of the evening, we were tired, stuffed, and weary of the stress of family. Time to go home. It was a good holiday.

That evening, I called my brother on the phone. “Do you know what I want to get tomorrow for Black Friday?” I asked my brother, “A deer!” We made plans to head out to the family property and see what we could do. In cameras and in-person observation, I haven’t seen much in the way of morning activity. It seems that we have night-owl, party deer instead of sensible, morning deer. Therefore, we didn’t bother getting up super early. We settled into the blind in the early afternoon. My brother absently gulped water out of his Camelbak, and I hoped that wouldn’t lead to him blowing our cover. Sure enough, after we’d been in the blind for an hour, he had to slip out to answer the call of nature. And, then again, an hour later. As we sat, the wind got harder and harder, to the point that we’d hear a gust coming and each of us would grab the side supports of the blind without even looking up from our smart phones. We called it off and decided to get out of the wind.

On Saturday, Jennifer and I went back out. The bait that I had spread out the previous day was still on the ground. Looks like it was a good call to quit when we did! Although it was a lot less windy than Friday, it was probably still a little too breezy for wildlife. We saw no deer. We saw no bobcat. We didn’t even see any Oklahoma monkeys. Each of us nuked at least two phone batteries on Bejeweled and IRC. We were diligent and sat silently until 30-minutes after sunset. We decided to leave the blind and chairs and come back in the morning.

When the alarm went off at o’dark-thirty on Sunday morning, it was painful. I told Jennifer I didn’t think I had it in me, and she agreed. So, we fell back asleep. When we finally awoke, we met up with my parents for our Sunday lunch and hung around all afternoon. It looked like we weren’t going to get in another day of hunting after all. Even so, we still needed to go and collect our blind, as weren’t simply going to leave it out all week. So, at around 17:00, we hopped in the car and ran out to the farm to retrieve our blind and chairs. The property is twenty to thirty minutes out, depending on traffic and where we decide to park. We have been parking pretty far up the trail and hiking in, so as to maintain invisibility. Since we weren’t worried about stealth, I pulled on down to the hollow. As I turned into the hollow, there were four white tails. This was the first time I’d ever seen four of them at once in the hollow. Jennifer said she could make the shot. The sun set at 17:19, it was 17:40, and that left nine minutes of legal shooting. Jennifer did everything she could to grab her rifle and a pair of ear muffs and I sat in the car, trying my best to look non-nonchalant and non-threatening to the ungulates. They stirred nervously, but not freaked out, and hesitantly started filing off into the woods. Just about the time Jennifer got to the point of setting up for the shot, the last tail disappeared between the trees.

Once I heard FarmDad comment something to the effect of, the best way to hunt antelope is to act like you aren’t hunting antelope. I have to wonder if this philosophy holds true to other types of game. This is not by any means the first time we’ve driven into the hollow to be greeted by deer. Every time, they loiter around for a few minutes before retreating. It flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but it’s tempting to try something new and brash this last week of deer gun season. When Jennifer gets home from work, we could throw guns and supplies in the car and drive out. We’d pull up to the hollow with the intention of Jennifer getting out with her ears on, grab her gun from the back, and take care of business. I’d probably want to park just out of sight and trek the last few paces into the hollow. This shouldn’t take but a few minutes. Jennifer knows her way around her rifle and should be able to make a good shot before the deer have much of a chance to decide what they want to do next. After months of picture collection, hours of silent sitting in the blind, ammunition research and testing, supplies purchased, regulation reading, and everything else, this could come down to a five-minute strike. From everything I’ve read, there shouldn’t be anything amiss on any laws or regulations about this. We would very specifically not be hunting from the car, we’d safely and legally transport guns, and use all appropriate safety gear. I don’t want to do anything illegal or unsporting. Does this sound okay? Not that I’m honestly asking for legal advice on the internet, but I would be interested in hearing disinterested thoughts and opinions.

Having two unfilled archery tags still, I did not purchase a deer gun tag and have not been participating in deer gun season. Well, not behind a trigger, anyway. This has been a combined effort. If Jennifer puts 150-lbs of doe meat in our freezer in the next week, I’m going to feel personally accomplished. Similarly, if I manage to take a deer or two with my bow in the next sevenish weeks, I will expect for Jennifer to share in the credit. One way or another, there hasn’t been nearly enough venison on my grill recently, and I hope to remedy that!

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14 thoughts on “Holiday Weekend Recap

  1. Hiking in may not be the best bet if you usually drive to the hollow. FarmDad is right, and it applies to deer too. Deer will ignore (to a certain extent) anything that they consider “normal” activity. If you usually drive down to the hollow, it probably would be better if you drive down while hunting (although I’d say park off to the left mostly out of sight) because that is activity the deer consider “normal”. Them seeing or hearing someone walk down the road might seem a bit less normal and arouse suspicion.

  2. Quick question…. Why the hearing protection? Not being rude, does she have a particular sensitivity to the noise? I mean its not a range session, just a single shot in the uninsulated wild, not a lot of hard barriers to reflect sound, but a lot of soft brush etc to absorb it. Generally when rifle hunting I’ve found hearing protection to be too much of an irritation to be worth much. You make noise getting them on in the blind, you have to keep track of them, etc.

    That said, when pistol hunting with something like a ported 44mag, yep, I ear up :-)

    Also just a heads up, I don’t want to rain on your parade, but a large doe dresses out about 120-130, and if you bring it to a processor will likely net you about 50lbs edible meat. Hide, bone, fat, blood, etc are all included in that 120-130lbs, and dont make the best eating. Mind you 50lbs of venison is still a wonderful haul :-) Also processing it yourself will get you another 5-15 lbs of meat depending upon how serious you are on getting the harder to reach stuff.

    • Also I hate to admit it, but I’m honestly running low on my venison, that 50lbs doesn’t go as far as it used to when you find a recipe that the wife loves for the roasts :-)

      I still have two tags (2nd archery and 1 rifle) to fill if possible. I don’t know your local laws, but check out if there is a separate muzzle loading season, cost of admission is low, and for me it gets me another 17 days of firearm season later in the year.

    • better question: why NOT hearing protection? i’d do it. i have bad enough hearing as it is without risking further damage.

    • I don’t take that as rudeness at all! All kinds of reasoned discourse are welcome here. Looks like I posted my last comment before I’d refreshed the page to see yours. To answer your question, .223/5.56 barks hard, as I stated before. Were she using a softer sounding caliber, she probably would have skipped the ears for the reasons you mentioned. She even admitted after the fact that she very much considered shooting without her ears anyway. Last time I lit off a 5.56 without hearing protection, my left ear rang for like two days. 8(

      Yeah, I was totally spit balling the weight there. I know a lot of people who have shot abnormally large deer around here this year, but I’ll take whatever amount of meat we can get, honestly. I’m pretty sure we’ll process our own though.

      • Yeah I didn’t see that it was 223, can I assume a 16″ barrel as well?

        Those can definitely bark. Around these parts when it comes to rifles, the 223 was put on Michigan’s “too small” list (they require a center-fire caliber greater than .22). So most folks opt for a .243 7.62×39 or 30/30 as the small end of the spectrum.

        Again, best of luck on the freezer filling. If you want the roast recipe let me know, we were doing one a week until we ran out of roasts :-)

        • You got it. We deer hunt with M4geries around here. LOL!

          They make critters bigger in Michigan than they do in Oklahoma. Of course, you and I know that with proper shot placement, you can take down a very large animal with a reputedly weak cartridge, but the regulators obviously have to consider the lowest common denominator.

          Thanks for the well-wishing. I’m sure I’ll have a post up soon on our successful deer hunt! I’d love to see your roast recipe.

  3. Thanks, Laura! I want deer meat so bad. LOL!

    Duly noted, daniels. I think we’re going to try the Fifteen Minute Hunt ™ this evening. Wish us luck!

    A Girl, I would promise some deer jerky, but I seriously doubt any of it will become jerky. I’m glad you’re enjoying the madness. :)

    You aren’t joking NFO! The other day I was sighting in this scope… (well, you know that since you called Jennifer while I was doing that…) and I forgot my ears for this one shot. RRRRRIIIIIIINNNNNNNGGGGGGGG!!!!! What? 5.56 isn’t the loudest cartridge, but it certainly does have a bark to it.

  4. One cheap deer lure that sometimes works wonders is a salt block like the ones cattle ranchers put out for thier stock. It really depends on the availability of salt in your area, but I have hunted on some ranches where the deer came out of cover and went directly to the salt block even when there was corn scattered on the ground around it.

    In moderately pouplated areas deer seem to spook more seeing motion that they do hearing noise. They hear cars, chain saws, and other human noises all the time and appear to become somewhat desensitized. Perhaps that’s why you were able to drive up on your four deer without spooking them.

    Here’s wishing you good luck getting that venison in your freezer!

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