The Deer Season is Open

A Sudden Start of the Season

The deer season has started and we have opened our season with thee new deer. This is an unexpected a pleasant surprise for both of us. Weeks of preparation, which included a purchase of new deer rifles, the new sheepskin footwear with fur. New warm clothes, and a lot of work out (on my part) to regain strength and the ability to drag a heavy deer across the woods. No matter how much I try to prepare for a deer season, I never feel ready. It sneaks up on me and it goes away, and somehow miraculously we have a deep freezer full of meet for the year. May be some day, I will be perfectly ready for a hunt, because each year I feel that I come closer and closer to that point.

His and Hers Deer Rifles

A couple of months ago, we treated ourselves to new 243 caliber Weatherby riffles. It all started when my husband decided that he wanted me to have a deer rifle of my own. He had been searching for two weeks by the time I found out that he was on a shopping spree for just the right gun for me. And he found one, a ladies’ version of a 243 caliber rifle, Weatherby Camilla. This gun is unbelievable!

Until I received this rifle, I had thought that something was wrong with me. Rifles have such long stocks that when I prop the gun butt on my shoulder, I can never reach the trigger comfortably. Thick winter clothes make it even harder. In addition, the gun stock is always too low for me to look into the scope comfortably. The scope is always too far and the view is obstructed by the black ring of aberration on the periphery. I had struggled for years thinking that I didn’t know how to hold a gun correctly. (I was bewildered about it because I won many target shooting competitions as a teenager with AK-47.) A while ago, we shortened the stock of my 22 rifle by about an inch-and-a-quarter. And that changed everything! The gun became very comfortable. And I didn’t have to scuffle with the gun before each shoot.

Ladies’ Version of a Deer Rifle

May be that was the reason my husband started looking for a ladies’ gun for me. He did a research and learned that  women need a different gun design because of shorter arms, smaller and more slanted shoulders, and longer necks than men. My new rifle has a Monte Carlo stock that is also shorter and more slender. It is also lighter than the men’s version of 243 Weatherby and very easy to carry and handle. It feels more like a 22 than a deer rifle. When I was shooting the deer, I didn’t even think about the gun. It felt like an extension of my arm. And there is no recoil – this is magic!

When I picked up my new rifle from the local store, I decided that my husband needed his version of Weatherby. I insisted that he order one for himself as well. The men’s version is longer, thicker, and doesn’t have the same pretty floral design as Camilla. But it is a very nice gun.

Our leather slings with a gorgeous leaf design came from Ukraine.

The Hunt Begins

Deer Number One

We were almost ready for the season, except for the guns needed to be sighted. It took him a while to get to it, but he couldn’t wait any longer. I  was working in my office and I didn’t even know what he was up to. When I heard rifle shots, I realized that he was in the woods sighting the guns. He took care of my rifle first and then moved on to his. Just when he finished, a doe came from the nearby meadow, stopped and stared at him.

His hunting season was opened at that moment. He came into the house and announced that we needed to bring a deer home. That was quick and unexpected. The road was too sleek after a few days of rain. We couldn’t take the truck. We loaded the cart and puled it by hand.

Deer Number Two

The next morning, I put on my warm clothes and boots, I took my wonder gun and went hunting. With a flashlight in one hand, I navigated to my hunting spot in, otherwise, complete darkness. The overcast sky was dark. I reached my hunting destination, settled in and sat very quietly. It was 6:00 a.m., about an hour before the sunrise. We usually take our hunting spots very early in the morning to give the wildlife plenty of time to calm down and return back to the normal pace of life after being disturbed by our walking.

It was a windy morning, the weather was changing. The wind made it very difficult to hear the animals. In the dawn of the morning, I was so quiet that I think I could hear my own heartbeat. Sometimes, I had to close my eyes and only listen trying to distinguish between the sound of trees in the wind and any sounds of animals. I was listening for rhythmic footsteps of a deer. I was cold in the wind. At about 8:30, I heard very faint steps. I turned slowly and saw a doe moving along the north-facing slope. The lighting was very diffused, and the deer looked like a phantom blending with the environment. My husband was in the house when he heard a gunshot. “Yes?” he texted. “Y,” my response was.

Being so deep in the woods, the only way to bring this deer home was by using the same cart and wheel it uphill manually. She was large and very heavy. The cart tipped twice on a steep hill and we had to reload it twice. We finally made it!

An Inquisitive Wren

Later in the afternoon, I went back to my hunting spot. The wind relented, the sun peaked out of the clouds. I felt much more comfortable. A curious wren visited me that afternoon. The bird made a lot of noise for its tiny size. It flew around me making loud chirping sounds, may be, trying to evoke a response. It flew toward me and made an arch turning around less than a foot from my chest. A few seconds later, it repeated the maneuver. Finally, it gained enough courage and landed on my left shoulder.

I was hunting until dark. When I returned to the house the night was pitch black.

Deer Number Three

The next day, my husband had to go to work. By 6:10 a.m. I was back at my hunting destination – the same spot as the previous day. The sky was completely clear. The air was dry. A slender crescent of the waning moon was reflecting enough light to illuminate the woods. I didn’t even need my flashlight to see. It was a dry, chilly, and quiet morning. Although it was a much colder morning at 24oF when I left the house, I was toasty in my cotton shirts, wool socks and sweater, the tall boots made of sheep fur, and the cloak that I made last year (one for each of us) from a sheep wool Bulgarian military blankets. It was a perfect morning for hunting.

A screech owl hooted a few times in an unorthodox pattern calling for a mate. Getting no response, it quickly subsided. Squirrels lurked everywhere making a lot of noise in the dry autumn leaves. My wren visited me again and made a lot of its usual noise. I shooed it away this time not willing to deal with the distractions it created.

The sun was rising brightly illuminating the forest. I could see clearly in all directions even looking into the sun. And I could see the buck that was descending from KimRidge moving in my direction. I saw the deer before I heard his steps. He walked downhill in a zigzag fashion making frequent stops and sniffing the air in search for a mate. It was a powerful looking animal. Each time it stopped, it took a picture-perfect pose proudly holding his head crowned with an eight-point rack of antlers. He moved straight toward me unaware of my presence.

My husband had to leave work because there was no way I could drag this buck uphill on my own. Fortunately, the road was dry enough and we could use the truck as soon as the buck was out of the woods.

Processing

Three deer

We will be spending the next few days skinning, butchering, cutting into stakes, grinding, making sausages, vacuum sealing and deep freezing the meet. The tallow will be rendered for making soap. Amazingly enough, I ran out of deer tallow while making soap last week. Excellent timing! The skins will be processed. Nothing goes to waste.

Freshly-made deer tallow is so smooth. It feels like white chocolate. I am always surprised by the pleasant fragrance of deer tallow.

2 Replies to “The Deer Season is Open”

    1. Hi Karen,
      We had been walking in the woods and looking for deer signs – foot prints, scrapes, rubs, and the deer themselves before choosing this spot. We are surprised to get the deer so fast. Last year, we had to hunt two freezing weeks to get four deer. Not so much hunting pleasure this time. We are very grateful and will never take this for granted.
      Happy Thanksgiving!

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