By Some Guy:
Isn’t it ironic that the writers of magazine articles always have nice, clear shots on their deer? They never seem to have crap in the way to try to shoot through like the rest of us do! Have you ever read an article that said something like, “There was a lot of brush in the way, but I shot anyway”? Then the guy ends up posing for the cover with the tree branch he “killed” instead of the deer.
The deer the guys in the magazines hunt must be different than the ones I hunt. Because the deer I hunt always seem to be able to find something to stand behind. Even if you clear cut a shooting lane that would make General William Tecumseh Sherman proud, the deer will still manage to find something to stand behind! Sometimes I think they carry this stuff with them? Deer rubs might give credence to this theory.
We like to think that bucks rub trees in the fall because the velvet starts to dry out and gets itchy. Maybe the buck is just trying to break off the tree so he can hang it over his body to block bullets? That way even if the buck walks by Gen. Sherman’s deer stand, he will still have something to stand behind. It seems fawns and does always end up giving us clear shots. That’s because they don’t have antlers to break off “armor” with.
One deer season I was having a particular tough time of getting a clear shot. I saw a lot of deer that season, probably about 20 or so. A lot of them were close also! But they always seemed to be able to find something to stand behind. It’s pretty tough to kill a deer when all you can see are parts of them like the tail, legs, or ears. Not much there to shoot at! Even when I thought I had a good clear shot it turned out later that I didn’t.
I found what I thought was a likely spot to stand one time. Three trails came into the area and merged into one. I trimmed a little stuff to give a clear shot to all of the trails. A little buck came down one of the trails and implemented one of the standard operating procedures of a buck. He stopped just short of the shooting lane. I eased the gun to my shoulder, put the sights on him, and waited for him to step into the clear.
I was thinking, “O.K., one more step and you’re gonna get it!” The deer stepped into the clear, I squeezed the trigger. Bang! The deer dropped quickly out of sight. I thought, “I hit him good!” He was only about 30 yds away and the sights were right on his chest. I went over to retrieve my buck, but the buck wasn’t there to be retrieved! There was no blood or hair either. Nothing! “How could I have missed?” “There weren’t any branches in the way, and the deer didn’t have any that he was carrying with him.” “Maybe he wasn’t standing where I thought he was when I shot?”
I was convinced I hit the deer so I went back to where I was standing when I first shot. I was going to re-enact the scenario to see if I could determine if I needed to look in a different spot for the blood trail. Maybe he was just further away or something than I first thought. I shouldered the gun and followed my mental image of the buck. “O.K. that’s where I first saw him, then he stepped forward, I pulled the trigger right here.” “What the heck is that?”
There was a nice fresh hole the oak sapling about three feet in front of my muzzle. I hit the thing dead center! “Hmm, I wonder why I didn’t notice that little tree there before.” I truly believe that the buck knew it was there. My hitting it was far too improbable to be just a coincidence. I suppose that’s why the deer paused. He was thinking, “Damn, Gen. Sherman is standing over there!” “If I step out he’ll shoot me.” “Wait, there’s a little tree I can stand behind.” “I’m O.K., he’ll hit that instead of me!”
The rest of my season was going pretty much the same way for me. Along with that oak sapling I managed to also bag a couple of hackberry branches and a fence post. I just crippled the maple tree. I did eventually find a deer that year that wasn’t standing behind something. As good as it seems deer are at looking sideways to find something to stand behind, they aren’t very good at checking for things underneath them!
The group I was hunting with was going to conduct a drive. My friend George took me over to the backside of the section to stand. We stopped on a typical abandoned narrow Iowa dirt road. The road was a good ten feet below the fence line on either side due to erosion and re-grading over the years. George said, “The deer will sometimes bust out of the timber and head over here instead of where the standers are.” “You need to get on top the bank though so you can shoot!” “Hurry up, you don’t have much time.” He drove down the road to block another “sometimes” spot.
I was about half way up the “bank” when I decided that my friend really didn’t understand the term “bank”. This seemed more like a cliff to me! I was about three fourths of the way up the cliff when I slipped and fell back onto the snow covered road. As I was laying flat on my back looking up at the cliff I was thinking, “I doubt I’ll see anything, but I do at least need to get up there so I can see.”
Just then I saw a couple of deer standing on the top of the cliff. The sight of the deer made me remember that I hadn’t loaded my gun yet. I was thinking to myself, “Deer do come out here!” “Crap I need a slug!” As I was pawing through my pockets for a slug the deer disappeared. The next thing I saw was a deer jumping the fence, sailing over my head and landing over the opposite fence! Then another one made the jump! I thought, “Crap, I’d better shoot one of these things!”
I shot and the little buck hit the far bank and slid down onto the road. This was the only time in my life I ever shot a deer that was sailing over my head like a quail! And it was one of the few I ever shot while flat on my back too. I had just picked myself up when George came down the road. He saw the dead deer and said, “You got one!” “I wasn’t sure it was you who shot or not.” “I could see the deer, but I never saw you.” “I couldn’t believe the way they were jumping this old road!” I said, “Yeah, you should have seen it from here!”
I just kept quiet about the details. Trying to tell a story like this is the sort of thing that will get you tagged as a liar for the rest of your life. Just the total unbelievable nature of the story would make others think you are a liar. Would you believe it if some guy told you he just shot a deer out of the air like a quail? I didn’t think so. Telling the truth did not seem to be an option! I figured it would be in my best interest to just keep quiet until I could come up with a good enough lie to protect myself from being tagged as a liar.
While we were loading the buck George noticed the slug hole underneath the deer’s chest. “How’d this get here” I said nothing. Then he noticed the spot on the road I shot from, “Who the hell was here making snow angels?” Again I said nothing.
After a little bit George said, “Hey, I was thinking about that buck.” “You never did make it up the bank did you?” “You shot him from the road?” “And it had to be on top of you when you shot!” “How else could the slug go in under his chest like it did.” I said, “You’re right, and I shot it out of the air while I was flat on my back!” George said, “Ah that explains the snow angel!” “Well I’d keep quiet about that shot too if I was you.” “That one could get you tagged as a liar!” I said, “Yeah!” “But at least it was a clear shot!” “Nothing for him to stand behind there!”