Saturday, December 1st, 2012
Rough Notes from the Woods 8
Rifle Season – Kanawha County
I would have preferred to include a picture of my commendable 8-point buck to the top of this post. Alas, this is not possible as I have ended the rifle season unsuccessful. The past three days were spent staring throughout the woods of Kanawha County waiting for a potential shot at O. virginianus with no luck.
Thursday saw a total of eight does. All of which would have been easy prey as they all provided good, clean shots. This seems to be the case for the entire season – lots of does but none of their male companions. I scouted aerial photos and decided on a plan of where to hunt but as I slowly crept my way to the top of the ridge and down to the next draw, I encountered the dreaded yellow signs that indicate that the land was “posted,” keeping me from what I considered the best hunting in the area. I did find a nice place to nestle my posterior at the base of a large oak tree where the views were spectacular. The woods were alive there with squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. Watching the sunset nearly made it tolerable that I was unsuccessful in my hunting adventures.
Friday was a more productive but much more frustrating day. I moved positions late in the morning and found an incredible natural-made ground blind. Three pine trees had fallen and made a triangle around a single standing pine. It provided concealment from view as well as countless potential rifle rests in every direction. My views from the blind were excellent as I had potential kill-zones in most directions. I stared off in the distance for hours watching for any amount of movement that could indicate that the moment of truth was near. At about 5 pm, I saw my first deer movement. It was about 150 yards away. I couldn’t discern the sex and even if I could, I don’t think I could have taken the shot due to the brush obstructing my view. About ten minutes later, I heard the leaves rustle and saw two deer that appeared to be does casually walking up the trail near my blind. I scoped the first as she walked out of view. I slowly moved my scope’s view to the second deer and studied her for a moment. “Was that an antler?” The thought startled me as I felt the adrenaline begin to course through my veins. I noticed that my heart began beating quicker and I could feel the tingle in my arms as I studied this whitetail closer to determine if I did in fact see antlers. It raised its head again and I am certain that I saw a pair of spike antlers between its ears. I adjusted my scope to its highest setting to be certain. “They are definitely antlers.” My thoughts and my excitement were nearly uncontainable. “As soon as this deer moves from behind this tree, I’m taking my shot and giving this season a successful end.” I waited for what seemed like hours for this unsuspecting deer to move. Finally, without a comprehendible reason, it turned and walked directly up the hill behind the trees that were blocking my view. My chance was over. Disappointment courses through a man much quicker with the help of adrenaline. I saw a few more deer come into my field of view but daylight was slipping away and I couldn’t see antlers of any type. I waited patiently for them to walk away before I gathered my gear and walked back to my Ford Expedition. I didn’t want to spook them as I would be back tomorrow.
Saturday proved to be a true test of my patience. As I slowly crept into my blind by the pale light of a waxing moon, I heard at least three deer trot away from my position. This was the only activity that I found all morning. As the hours slowly passed by and my knees and back began to ache more and more from my awkward seated position in my blind, I struggled to keep focused on the task at hand. I found myself considering blog topics, texting with my wife, and even considered leaving the woods altogether. But I held steadfast and waited for the “golden hour.” I consider the first and last hour of daylight the most productive for hunting even though most of my venison has been acquired outside of this time. At about 4 pm, I left my daydream world and became a predator again. I held my rifle at the ready. I studied every noise in the woods. I studied with intense focus every potential movement of leaves. I was ready. And then it happened. At about 4:45 pm, I heard a noise machine coming towards me. It wasn’t long until I witnessed a man dressed in orange, with no deer, cruising around on his four-wheeler from the same direction that I was most likely to see deer. Oh, the frustration! Surely hunter etiquette would dictate that unless you are taking your game from the field, there is no need to ride around the woods with your four-wheeler during the last hour of the last day of rifle season! I remained in position and continued to watch closely after he left my area. However, my expectations were realized. I saw no activity during the remaining daylight.
My walk back to my Expedition was a slow and painful one. Had rifle season really ended? Did I actually hunt this season with no success? As much as it pained me to admit, I’ll be driving home with no venison to show for all of my efforts. I did at least learn a great deal from this season. Perhaps I will provide a “lessons learned” post here on SmoothingIt.com to share what I have painfully learned by trial and error.