Close call with deer calls

Be aware of primitive-weapons regulations for Louisiana wildlife management areas, national wildlife refuges.


October 17, 2012 at 9:56 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

This speckled king snake was seen on a recent public-land hunt by online blogger Josh Chauvin.
This speckled king snake was seen on a recent public-land hunt by online blogger Josh Chauvin.
The weekend started slow for me. Laura had a hog walk behind her within 30 yards on Friday (Oct. 12) morning, but she couldn’t see it in the thick underbrush from her ground blind. She heard it softly grunt several times.

I had no action on either hunt Friday or Saturday morning. Things picked up on my midday stalk when I came across this huge king snake and a large 8-foot gator in a small 6-inch deep hole about 10 yards across. It was by far the longest king snake I ever seen. They are such pretty and friendly snakes, unlike the gator who wasn’t very happy to be stuck in a small place with me nearby.

Figuring the gator and snake knew this was a good place to hunt for prey, I sat on a log and hunted alongside my new buddy I nicknamed Chompers for a couple hours during the moon-overhead phase. Now that’s a fun hunt, though I made sure not to take a quick power snooze next to Chompers!

On Saturday evening hunting picked up. Laura decided to nap after making her early hunt. I took the crossbow and ground blind.

About 30 minutes before dark I heard something approach from my back, and a big doe made her way through my window into my crosshairs at 15yards, but I noticed a fawn behind her.

I passed on the shot.

Call me soft, but I had a horrible experience on my first crossbow kill years back in early October, where I double lunged a doe accompanied by fawns without spots. She fell in site within 50 yards. Then, I had to listen to her 2 fawns stand over her and cry for the longest time, which was not a pleasant memory. I didn’t want to scare off the yearlings and have my shot animal try to scamper off.

At the time, I had no clue fawns without spots did that, and I wasn’t going to have that experience happen again. It was worst than losing a wounded buck, in my opinion.

In those days, I measured success only by a kill, hoping to be able to harvest enough deer meat to make it until the next season. Now success is measured more by the enjoyability of my hunt, seeing deer and learning new things about deer.

And this hunt was about to get much more successful.

Minutes after the deer passed, I put down my weapon and whipped out my camera and fawn can call, hoping to get the deer to return for a picture. A few seconds after flipping the can a few times, from another direction, a big animal ran up directly downwind, behind my blind. Those back windows were completely zipped to darken the blind.

Abruptly, the deer blew, and then took back into the brush behind me. It sounded to be nearly on top of me, but I couldn’t see anything.

I got no response from trying my big doe can. I then tried my buck roar grunt. After two soft grunts the deer blew again, but was much farther away this time.

I tried to grunt again, but I got no response. I figured, “Why not?” After a few minutes I decided to blow back at the deer, and puffed loudly into the snort wheeze two times.

Within seconds, I heard the deer run out of the brush behind me and directly behind my blind once again. It was directly where I couldn’t see, and it blew very loudly several times, sounding like a train about to run me over before escaping into the brush for good.

It was one adrenalin-packed experience, with the deer being just yards away yet completely out of sight. I kept hoping the deer would approach from the side window and give me a view of what it was.

I went back to that spot the next morning, but had no luck. After my hunt I met up with a new friend with a camp near mine, who emailed me last week, and his 18-year-old son, who usually duck hunts. The son was interested in learning to deer hunt public land.

The college baseball player told me he killed two deer before in hay fields, but had never been hunting in woods like this. I said we’d go check out a deep thicket that I scouted before to show what kind of area to look for to find deer, and explained a few rules about the WMAs and stand options.

I said this was a good spot and, sure enough, as soon as arriving to the thicket deep in the woods a group of deer busted out.

We never got to see if they were does or bucks, but it was exciting and I hope he gives public land a try and gets a chance to kill a deer this season. Plus, nothing is better than having more friends out in the woods in case something is ever needed.

The best news from the weekend was opening Saturday’s mail: Laura and I received lottery winning tickets for Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge’s gun hunt. This will be a great opportunity for her to get an animal. I’m not a gambler, but this is the kind of lottery I like to spend my money on. Where winning is priceless!

With only one deer rifle, I purchased a .444 Marlin H&R rifle last week, so we will have two useable weapons for gun days on Bayou Cocodrie NWRs and the state’s WMAs.
These guns are hard to find in stock, but it only took two weeks to arrive after ordering one from Cabelas for under $300. I got a Leupold multi-reticle scope for the gun. With a recoil pad, Laura will be able to shoot and reload this gun easier than my muzzleloader. The .444 Marlin has less recoil than that of the .35 Whelen and .45/70. I like how it is very short and compact, which will make for easy maneuverability from the ground blind or stand.

The state WMAs have switched their primitive weapons season this year to match the new private-land rules. Single-shot crack-barrel rifles of .35 and larger calibers are now legal.

However, the NWRs still have the old rule where only single-shot guns of pre-1900 models that are .38 caliber and larger are legal in addition to muzzleloaders.

More details can be found on the LDWF’s online WMA regulations and on the Web site for each NWR. I heard many people got tickets with all these primitive-weapons rule changes over the past few years on public lands. I hope everyone learns the rules so no one gets ticketed for a wrong weapon.

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View other articles written Josh Chauvin