Well, I went out deer hunting this weekend with Dan and Spen from JRE Industries and scored an 8-point buck. It took four attempts to get into the woods and I learned lots of lessons the hard way once I finally got out there.
First, I didn't dress warm enough. I dressed for a very cold upland bird hunt. Walking around all day makes a huge difference. Sitting under a tree while watching and listening for hours and hours is cold, cold work. I've got mild frostbite on my fingers and toes and temperatures were only down to the low 20's/high teens. I've been out in much colder weather and had no problems because my activity level was high.
As Spen said on Saturday, to prepare for deer hunting you should get dressed at 4 am and go out and sit in the back yard for 12 hours. Try not to move too much or make any noise.
Dan and I got in at 1:30 on Saturday morning and were up at 4 to get ready and in to the woods. That left very little time to sleep and I'm sure I ended up getting a few minutes of sleep in the field. Dozing off is a dangerous thing to do in extreme cold temperatures and, despite knowing that, I was unable to avoid it.
I saw a monster buck on Saturday morning and had him dead to rights but hesitated for a moment and missed a shot at him. He was maybe 30 feet away from me and I had my gun on him but he was passing through thick trees and the gap was less than two feet where I had my shot. I missed that opportunity and didn't see another deer all day other than Spen's decoy which I thought about shooting on more than one occasion. (Did I mention how fatigue and low light can play tricks on the eyes and mind and how stumps and grass look like deer?)
So I was exhausted, frozen, and miserable all day on Saturday. I saw just one deer and didn't shoot him. I had a migraine from the lack of sleep and the poor decision to avoid coffee before the hunt (I'm still a caffeine addict...) My back, hips, and legs were sore from sitting on the cold ground all day. My powder horn broke on the way to my spot and I had a bag full of gunpowder but none to put in my gun. Then I had to go back to the car to get my gunpowder and got all turned around in the darkness while trying to find my gear which I left at my spot. I wasn't having fun and wanted nothing more than to go home where it was warm. I began to doubt whether I was really a hunter.
Sunday was different. I'll write about that experience tomorrow.
Thanks for reading,