When we left off in November, the deer action had slacked off just as quickly as it had begun. But after five blank hunts, the switch finally flipped on again in December.
At 6:45 on a cool morning, I heard several animals coming through the myrtles on a trot. My first thought was a herd of hogs because I could hear lots of hooves and water splashing.
But to my surprise it was four does. However, as they went past me single-file at only 25 yards, I could not get a clear shot. They continued on, making quite a racket. Unknown to me at the time, they had passed my buddy Randy Levingston, and he also could not get a clear shot. He told me a spike was behind the does, causing them to hurry along.
At 7, I heard a very slight movement in the myrtles coming in my direction opposite from where the does had gone. I saw ripples in the water, and then I saw the front legs of a deer.
I drew back and waited for what seemed like a very long time, but in actuality was probably about 45 seconds. The deer finally took another step and a head with antlers poked out from the myrtles.
One more step and I let my arrow fly. The buck went down in a heap, always a very good feeling that he was done, and he was mine — with no blood trailing or anxious moments wondering if I got him or not.
I got ready to call Randy, when I heard another bow shot. Randy and I were not far apart and we were the only guys out there, so I hoped he had good news as well. I told him I had just shot a buck. He replied, “Me too.”
I told him mine was a basket rack 7-pointer and asked how big his was. He said it was a pretty good buck, which in “Randy-speak,” means a very good buck. But he thought he might have hit the deer low, and was getting down to go look for it.
He told me he was at full draw with the buck was at 27 yards when the deer looked straight up at him. With the buck facing him, he felt it was getting ready to bolt, so he released his arrow and made a very good shot which pierced the deer’s liver.
The big buck went about 25 yards and was down for good. It was a 10-point beauty with a 16 ½-inch inside spread, Randy’s best buck ever. He had already shot a nice 8-point in November and had also shot his previous best-ever buck last season.
For public land bowhunters like us, it really doesn’t get much better than that.
We got to use our dragging sled for the very first time. It worked pretty well, especially in the shallow water/muddy areas. But even over hard land it moved along easier than dragging on the ground.
When we stopped to consider what had occurred that morning, we had seen seven deer by 7 a.m and and had each shot a racked buck within three minutes of each other: definitely one of our all-time best hunts.
But our strategy changes somewhat now. For the first time ever, Randy is out of buck tags (having harvested an 8-point, a 3-point and a 10-point,) while I still have one left (having already taken a 5- point and 7-point.) But we both have doe tags left.
My plan is to hold out for a nice buck with my last tag — we’ll see how it goes.
I took a week off to visit my son and his family in California, and between work and poor weather during the holidays, we were limited in our hunting opportunities later in December.
January hunting at the Delta is usually tough as the deer — especially the big bucks — have wizened up to our ways. But occasionally one will slip up and get taken in January.
The good thing is hunting pressure is much less, and the deer go back to more normal patterns in many areas, especially where they may have been hunted hard.
One big factor that could affect some of us is the extremely high water that may cause some of our favorite hunting areas to close, at least temporarily. So I intend to hunt as hard as I can, while I can.
Even though I have taken two hogs so far this season, we really have not seen or heard many at all. We do anticipate finding more of them when the gun season season starts and we can use stalking techniques to our advantage.
But before we get that far, we’ll put all of our efforts into trying to get a few more deer if we can.
I hope your holidays were everything you wanted them to be. Get out and hunt while you can, and let’s hope the flood does not impact our season. Be safe!