I got the call about 11am... my buddy Greg was already at the hunting camp. Crap. What rifle do I take? What ammo do I take? I had a bunch of crap to do... I wasn't prepared for this. I'd promised my son we'd start our Epic Hamburger Tour today... so that had to come first. And of course... it did.
When I got home DrWho was giving me that.. "you better go hunting" look... the Savage 99 was sitting there... looking... as reliable as ever. Well... I figured I'd throw some 150 grain soft points through it. If it was shooting... I'd go.
Sure enough... 3 shots made 1 hole at 100 yards. Its an inch high. God I love that rifle.
Its Bama so its not like I hade to gear up to much. I knew it would hit the mid thirties by the time I was out of the woods so I just grabbed a decent coat and threw on my boots. The rest of the necessaries went in the bag. DrWho met me at the door with some cokes, some jerky, and some habenero barbeque nuts. She's a good wife.
The plan was to be in the woods and set up by 3. There were two big food plots we wanted to sit on... and another buddy Webb had a climber and wanted to sit on a funnel between them. My plot was the furthest so I drove the cart and dropped Webb off at a spot where he could walk the rest of the way in... and I drove on to my shooting house.
Its a sweet setup. I drove into the woods quite a ways... then came to a fork. To the left takes you to the food plot itself. To the right takes you around a thick wooded area to a walking path that leads to the back of the shooting house that looks out over the food plot. I parked the cart by the path.. silenced my phone.. loaded 2 rounds of 150 grain winchester soft points into the rotary magazine of the 99... and started walking. I may have made it just a bit after 3... but not much.
This is what I was looking at.
It was 3pm... 64 degrees... and really not a bad way to spend the afternoon.
So now is a good time to say that hunting in 2013 is very different than hunting was in 1993. This was abundantly clear to me around 30 minutes later when I get a text from Greg over on the other food plot. "Hey man. Doe just walked out in the back of my plot. They are moving early "
Ever the patient sort... I texted him back, "SHOOT HER!"
But.. he didn't.
For about the next 30 minutes I was really on my game. I glassed... nothing. After a while I relaxed. It was probably gonna be a long day. No reason to push. I settled down in the seat... put on my electronic ears and played bejewelled on the blackberry for a while. About 4 I got another text from Greg. "keep your eyes open. They'll start moving soon."
The shadows kept getting longer... reaching out across the food plot. It was tarting to really cool off now. the temp's dropped almost 15 degrees. I put the coat on. At 4:30 another text comes in. "They'll be easing into the food plot now. watch the back left and the far right!" yeah right.
This is the 4th time I've sat out here in the afternoon on this camp and apart from the deer Jeb shot... I ain't seen squat. I texted Greg back at 4:45 "Y'all are full of shit. Ain't no damned deer on this camp." I was so frustrated I decided to get out of the box and take a piss. God knows how much ruckus I made. I didn't even try to be quiet. I was irritated.
I got back in the house... settled back down and checked the lux meter on my phone. Its still 90 lux out there. Plenty of light to shoot. But the sun was definitely going down. I didn't have a lot of time. Defeat was sinking in I checked the meter again and it had dropped to the 40s. I don't keep a rockstar scope on the 99... its just a little simmons 3-9X32. I texted Greg.... "I don't know how much longer I can shoot with this scope. Its getting dark."
Greg's sitting over there with a 50mm Zeiss scope on his weatherby 7mm-08. He replied, "I can shoot till about 6:30."
"Yeah... you can also go to jail."
I was a little bitter.
I looked up from my phone... and there were two big doe standing in the back corner of the plot. About 200 yards. I could see them clearly with the naked eye... but with the scope? Magnification was set at 6. Was it enough?
I rested the rifle on the window of the shooting house. The big doe picked up the movement and looked my way but she didn't move. She was giving me a perfect broadside. I put the cross-hairs just above and behind her shoulder.
I took the rifle down. I texted greg.
Once more I put the rifle up. She was still there looking at me. The retical found the kill zone just like before.
Maybe just a hair higher.
I put my finger on the trigger. I relaxed. I tried to touch my nose with my trigger finger.
.223s go "crack". .308s go "boom".
The 99 doesn't so much kick as push. Its less like a snap and more like a shove. I saw the deer drop though the scope.
I held the scope on the deer... but it was clear a follow up was not needed. She was down. Her back legs kicked once. It was as clean a kill as you can hope for. Custom says you wait 30 minutes before you leave the stand but it was pointless. The 150 grain soft point had thrown her down like she'd been hit by a truck.
After approximately 90 seconds I went out to check her. She was beautiful. She'd been broadsiding me when I shot her. Now she was on her side facing the back of the food plot. There was a huge blood puddle under her... but no obvious entrance wound at all. I felt around in her fur until I found it... right were I expected. Just a touch high.
Greg and Webb helped get her back to the camp and we cleaned her right there in the purpose built cleaning shed.
Webb is a master... and Greg impressed me to. Its the first time I've ever seen a Dewalt Reciprocating saw employed in butchery. Never the less it was effective... and very tidy.
I don't know when I'm gonna get back out there. I do have a big hunt planned in January.
Maybe I'll look into one of those fancy Zeiss rigs. Or at least a Redfield...