Saturday morning, 5 am: I get up, drag myself downstairs. Drive to the Hardees in Pittsboro, get coffee.
Drive the rest of the way out to the Munger ranch. As has been mentioned before, this is where Mungers go to get away.
Met GameBill and Justin, already there, sitting in their car in the rain. GameBill is the lead hunter. Draws up a plan where we will walk slowly, and then spread out on the big stump pile and....wait for four hours.
In the rain. And strong winds.
But the rain clears up after about an hour. I move up the stump pile, and lose my balance. I have chambered a round on the Mauser K-98 8mm I am using today, because it takes too long to crank the bolt if I see a deer, and I can do it much more quietly if I do it slowly. Catch my balance by stepping on a big stump....which suddenly rolls over and moves at least three feet.
I fall head first down the stump pile, and the Mauser slips off my shoulder, where I had been carrying it by the strap. The gun was made in 1944, has Wehrmacht markings, and all matching numbers, so it is a cool old rifle. But it does NOT have a safety. In 1944, the Germans were worried about Russians, not safeties.
So, I'm lying in the mud and brambles, face down in the hole vacated by the big stump, and the Mauser is skittering downhill fast, across a bunch of sticks and branches, any one of which could catch the trigger. The headline flashes across my mind: "Another idiot dies in completely avoidable hunting accident; Darwin award almost certain."
Nothing happens, though, other than me tearing up my hands on the brambles. I am coughing, though, and it is so still out here that even a small cough carries a long way. And deer ears are sharp.
So, I walk the edge of the road back toward the north, about 1/2 mile up and back (the property is pretty big, 35 acres, so still Munger land.)
Then, I put together the deer stand, a ladder/tree arrangement, getting only small amounts of blood on the wrenches. Around 11, I go back down and sit on the stump pile, knowing that GameBill is back in the woods, trying to spook the deerfolk.
I see something bright orange walking out of the woods, and I manage not to shoot at it. (I'm not that good a shot, so it's probably safe, anyway.) GameBill notes, "I didn't see [anything]," or something like that.
GameBill and Justin spread 40 pounds of corn on the field, and I finish the tree stand. Then we carry the thing down to the chosen tree, and set it up. 15 feet is actually quite high when your butt is 15 feet in the air, and the wind is really blowing. But GameBill checks it out.
Then we go to the S&T Soda shop, back in town, about 10 miles away. Very fine sandwich/burger place, but the reason to go is the ice cream and shakes, and to talk to Amanda, the nicest girl in the world.
Then, I went home, and Bill and Justin headed back to property.
And waited another four hours of fruitlessness. Took turns sitting in the deer stand, and...well, I'll let GameBill tell it. From his email, at 5:05am Sunday, after a sleepless night.
Well, I was sure your decision to leave early today was the right one. I sat in the new tree stand for two hours after lunch and didn't see a single thing. Then Justin sat in the tree stand with no luck, and I went over to the same spot you stood in this morning.
At sundown I still hadn't seen a thing. Then, with about 10 minutes of light left I heard a noise, looked up, and saw two deer charging right for me. I could tell one had a rack. The other ran ahead of him and came within about 8 feet of where I was standing (the very same spot you were in this morning). After hesitating a moment trying to figure out which to shoot, I picked out the far one in my scope and took two shots at him while he was running. He went down. Big deer! Picture attached.
It was almost a perfect ending to the day, except that I drove the car across the field to make it easier to pick up the deer, and when I tried to go back the car wouldn't move. The ground was so soft that the wheels sank a few inches down and just started spinning. After about 3 hours of trying everything we finally made it out. I left four divots that I'll tidy up next time I'm out there.
Also, when I walked back to check if I had left anything at the site, I put out two deer in the flat right below the field. Then I saw the eyes of a third over by your tree stand. So there are definitely deer around there. And the corn should increase traffic.
We were too late to take the deer to a butcher/processor, so I spent about 4 hours butchering him myself tonight. Let me know what kind of venison you'd like.
I asked for one of the backstraps. And, yes, I'm going to serve it to company.
Well done, GameBill! I think I count 9 or 10 points in that picture. Way to perservere. And, getting stuck and THEN butchering your own deer at 3 in the morning is the sort of thing that made America great. Great, I tell you.