Third Day, Early Muzzle Loading Season, Maryland

Discussion in 'The Hunting Journal' started by Loyalist Dave, Oct 20, 2019.

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  1. Oct 20, 2019 #1

    Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave

    Cannon MLF Supporter

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    So the property where I sometimes hunt, the farm with the defunct vineyard, backs up to a state park public hunting area. Well as one can guess, sometimes the hunting pressure pushes the deer onto the private land. This year, however, the deer on their own on the land were in pretty good numbers.

    I had checked out the land myself several times in the weeks past. There was a lone doe and her fawn who lived in the hedgerow on the southern border to the property, near the road. I’d leave her alone, and besides, she was crafty enough to be right at the entrance to the farm with an occupied dwelling across the roadway within the “no shoot” limit of one hundred fifty yards, unless I got that homeowner’s permission to make noise. OH I could lay off a ways and try a long-shot with my flinter since the law is based on where the hunter is when the shot is taken, but that’s heavy-duty-gaming of the laws, and besides she had a young fawn with her, so…,

    Day One was windy, really really windy. Gusts up to 45 mph. Which was a pity since for several weeks it had been very dry, and then we'd just had two days of rain, making walking in the woods much less "crunchy". ;) The deer I’ve observed in my area, don’t like gusting winds at all, and fort-up in clumps of trees and bushes with good views all around, and wait out a change in the weather. I would be spending more time dodging falling limbs than actually hunting.

    Day Two: I arrived and it was less windy but still having gusts up to 20 mph. The defunct vineyard is on a unique hillside, which for some reason normally is rather calm when the wind on the rest of the property was knocking dead tree limbs down.

    Upon arrival the lone doe and her fawn were where they usually are near the gate. Momma was eating and the fawn was near-by so that was a good sign that other deer might be feeding soon. Getting out to the old vineyard I spooked up a 6-pointer in the hedge. That’s OK….there will be a second season after Thanksgiving. I moved in among the posts that once supported the wires for the vines in the vineyard. Very overgrown was the old vinyard, and several trees had taken root over the years. Very nice country for deer.

    I hadn’t realized it but a group of doe were bedded a short distance to the North, downslope from me, and on the other side of a huge clump of some prickly plants. Probably why they didn’t see me. (I felt good I'd creeped so close when setting up) When they began to get up I could hear them, and I got ready taking a good stance and with an old post to act as a steadying point for my forward hand on my rifle.

    I could see motion through the big, prickly bush, but not enough of a deer to pick out a spot that I knew were the vitals, and definitely not enough of an opening that my .530 round ball would not meet twigs and such on the way to the target. No, better to wait.

    So a doe stuck just a little bit of her head out, looking to the East. I could hear more moving off, to the North since none “uncovered” themselves from the big bush, and the wind was from the East, so I know they hadn’t winded me. If the doe would be nice enough to take about three steps forward, she was only about 20 yards from me, if that….,

    Nope, she turned to the North and followed her friends. I could only hunt half a day as I had to go and prepare for a funeral the following morning. :( So that was it for Day Two. Well..., I’d seen lots of deer….:thumb:

    Day Three: When the funeral was concluded, I headed home and changed into my hunting clothes. I unload after each day’s hunt, so Trudy my rifle, was nice and clean. I got out to the vineyard at about 3:30 p.m. I loaded Trudy with 70 grains of 3Fg, and a .530 ball with a .015 patch. The ball weighed 224 grains, because I got bored the previous Monday, and broke out the scale and weighed a bunch of my Hornady swaged ball, keeping the 224.0 grain ball.

    Some of my scouting a few weeks prior indicated the deer liked to graze just South of the vineyard in an open field, about an hour before sundown. Even better, there were three bucks that for some reason liked to graze together in that field, and it was odd I thought, for the smallest of the bucks was a five-pointer. The field runs East-West, and is about 60 yards wide, with a line of maple trees further South. It was in this line of maples that I set up.

    The wind was from the East. Not strong, but enough that I knew that unless the deer were directly West of me, they wouldn’t smell me. I fired up my clay pipe and the smoke went in a nice stream to the West…, nowhere near the hedges that were the Southern border of the vineyard to the North of me.

    Besides, directly West of me at about a hundred yards was a road, and on the other side was a horse-boarding business, and what’s more, the land sloped downward toward that business. So there was no way I could shoot West. A miss would undoubtedly cross the road and land on that property, and even a through and through hit on a deer would be too much risk. ( I wasn’t about to run the risk of having to explain to the DNR officer the .530 hole that I'd made in some plastic surgeon’s prize foxhunting steed.:confused:)

    So time went by and the sun lowered in the sky. It wasn’t quite time for “the buck parade”, when I saw a lone doe walking along the hedge, coming from the East; coming from my right. Directly East is another horse-boarding business, so shooting that direction was out. However, IF the doe continued her slow stroll…, she would soon be within my safe area of fire. She could, of course, at any time take a quick turn and be on the other side of the hedge. When she finally entered the safe zone for me she was North East of my position, at about one hundred yards. If she stopped and started to graze hard, I’d have to decide on taking a shot at max range, or to be patient. “ Patient” is just about every time the better path, so….

    She kept walking and was soon well within range. I shouldered Trudy and I had a very good sight picture. The problem was the doe was about a hand’s width to the right of my muzzle, as she walked right to left. The foliage from the maples in which I was hiding prevented me from simply sighting in on her where she was. I had to wait and hope she would keep walking and cross in front of my rifle sights, where I had a clear lane of fire ….

    She kept walking, occasionally stopping and looking around. Then she stepped to where I could clearly see her in the sights, and I pulled the lock to full cock. When the top of the front sight post was just behind her front elbow, I squeezed Trudy’s single trigger…, a loud boom came along with the rifle’s recoil, and a large cloud of smoke obscured the doe from my sight for a second.
    The doe reappeared a split second later. The doe took off like I’d jabbed her in the arse with a hot poker, continuing to the West along the hedge for about thirty yards, and then cutting through the hedge, going North West. I hadn’t heard any noise of her “piling up” after she went through the hedge into a small woodlot, as sometimes one hears after hitting a deer with a fatal shot.

    “Crap”, I muttered to myself while thinking that should’ve been a good hit, and all the doe in the past that I’d hit like that had never jetted off. Most went less than 20 yards, and a few dropped in their tracks. I hoped I hadn’t done something like jerk a trigger due to "early season fever", and stung her with a flesh wound, or merely scared the heck out of her with a near but complete miss. If I hadn’t properly hit her, I would prefer a complete miss rather than a wounded deer that infection would finish off days later. :oops:

    After reloading Trudy, and smoking a pipe, giving the doe about fifteen minutes to lay down if my ball had not hit in the best of vital areas…, I headed out to where she was standing when I shot. Paced off 62 yards from me to where she stood. I started to examine the hedge and the ground. About thigh-high off the ground on some of the hedge foliage, I found fresh, bright blood. So...she was hit, and I hoped the color of the blood meant a lung shot, as that was what I had been trying to do. No blood trail though….

    She had really been moving so, perhaps a blood trail wasn’t going to be as it had been in the past. I found where she entered the hedge and the wooded area, and “followed” her in. So to be honest I had seen where she entered the hedge, but after that I was guessing. Once inside again no blood trail, and I had less than an hour of sunlight left, so I began a methodical criss-crossing of the wooded lot that fills the space from the vineyard to the roadway.

    After a few minutes I found her down in some grass that had sprung up in the woods making a tiny meadow and bedding area for the deer. The ball had gone through and through both lungs and out the other side. I hadn’t heard her pile-up as the grass cushioned her going down. I tried to back track from where she lay, to learn more about tracking, and why I hadn't found trail, but the blood trail back petered out about ten feet from her. She simply hadn’t coughed until she got to the bedding area, where she expired.

    Thus ended the third day of my Early Muzzleloader Season. It was the last day for bucks, so if I get a chance to go out again before next Saturday, it will be doe only.
    EARLY ML DEER 2019.jpg

    LD
     
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