Fun Family Day

If you look down on “rednecks”, both the people and the things they do, then you should stop reading now because this post will probably offend you. 🙂

Had a wonderful day with the family today. Originally we were to do this during my Christmas vacation, but since I was down with the flu it didn’t happen. Fortunately the heavens saw fit to give us today, so the opportunity was taken.

The main thing? Going to the gun range and shooting. Some work, some recreation. Thank you, Karl, for letting us use the range.

It started off with me doing some live fire pistol skills work, because of my desire to start shooting IDPA. Details on this elsewhere. Meanwhile, Wife and Kiddos were inside the range house doing schoolwork (the joys of homeschooling).

When I finished my work, I took Wife out for a little work with the shotgun. She wants to improve her proficiency with the shotgun, so we did some work there. Alas, a 12 gauge, even with low-recoil rounds, just isn’t in the cards for her (Karl, if you find her shoulder, please let me know). She’s just fine with the 20 gauge. I just wish … oh wait! It looks like Federal now has a 20 gauge buckshot with FLITECONTROL wad (PD256). Holy crap! This is awesome. Of course, as I look around right now, everyone’s out of stock. But wow, this is great. I’m there and it’s pretty much removed my reserves about the 20 gauge. Sure it’d be nice to standardize on 12 gauge, but oh well. At least now I don’t have to put up with sub-optimal 20 gauge buckshot.

After that, Wife was done for the day. With the wet weather and the temps in the 40’s, it was just too cold for her to keep going. But the Kiddos were ready.

I recently purchased a new shotgun and needed to break it in and ensure function. I ran a bunch of 12 gauge target loads through it, then some full-power buckshot (of course, the Federal FLITECONTROL), and some slugs (Brenneke low-recoil slugs). The slugs didn’t want to go into the mag tube easily for some reason, looks like the brass was hanging up on the retainer clips, but no big deal really. Everything functioned great. I did put a 12″ Hogue Short Shot stock on it (shorter LOP makes for easier shouldering) and while 12″ LOP is a little too short for me, it worked out alright and I didn’t smack my thumb into my face as much as I expected I would. 🙂  I consider the shotgun functional and able to be pressed into service.

Oldest has never shot a 12 gauge before — he’s always been a bit recoil shy. But today he stepped right up to the plate and fired it like a champ. We’ll work on speeding up his shot recovery, but he really did a great job with it.

Youngest has never fired a “big gun” before, just .22’s. But he wanted to try the shotgun. 12 gauge was too much tho, so I pulled out the 20 gauge (a Mossberg 500 Bantam youth model) and let him try it with some light target loads (which are still kinda stout). He handled it well, tho was taken aback a bit because it was a big boom — again, it’s the most gun he’s ever fired. But he did come back for a second shot, but that was enough. 🙂

We put the shotguns away and took out an AR-15. I originally didn’t plan on bringing out an AR, but when packing up this morning, Oldest expressed interest in shooting it and I wasn’t going to say no. Again, he’s been very recoil shy in the past, only wanting to shoot .22’s. So for him to want to step up is great in my book. I mean, I know he can handle it, after having shot that 255# feral hog a couple years ago with a .308 bolt-action. Oldest got to learn what “giggle factor” is. 🙂  He was having WAY too much fun with that rifle — I should have brought more ammo. Daughter shot it for a bit, but she tweaked something in one of her arms the other day and so it was kinda painful to hold up the rifle. Youngest tried the AR as well, and was quite pleased that the recoil was far less than the shotgun — tho it was a heavier gun to hold up.

We put the long-guns away, and pulled out everyone’s favorite: the Buck Mark Camper. All 3 kiddos shot at the steel targets with this, and it’s just fun to plink with such a low-recoil gun — tho Youngest did get bit by the slide. Daughter showed some good improvement on trigger control. She asked how you get to shoot faster, so I explained a bit and I guess something clicked because she was shooting a little faster by the time we wrapped up.

While a lot of today was about having fun, it also was with purpose. I want my kids to be self-sufficient and able to take care of themselves. Yes, that means being able to shoot a gun proficiently. You may not understand why that’s the case, and if you don’t understand I’d be happy to discuss it with you; even if you don’t agree with it, I hope you are willing to have an open mind and come to listen and understand. The guns shot, the things we did, all done with purpose, even if I was the only one that knew what the purpose was.

Alas, we had to wrap it up before everyone was tired of it, but that’s ok — always leave them wanting more.

We headed to the Elm Creek Cafe for a delicious lunch (everyone loves that place), then back home.

Oh… and the Buc-ee’s in Bastrop is finally open. Yes, we stopped in. Finally my family came to understand why I adore Buc-ee’s.

We had a great day. Smiles all around. Happy family. I can’t wait to do it again.

A bad day hunting…

… is just a good day. 🙂

Went out for a 24-hour hunt with Charles of

Feral hogs were the target.

We headed out to his place after work Friday afternoon. Headed out to the field and sat over a stock tank for a while. Lots of deer, turkey, and cows moving and feeding, but no hogs. Charles headed off to another location. I sat and continued to watch, hopeful for hogs, but alas never saw any. I did however see lots of calves running around, charging towards the stock tank at full speed… just like any child. Even thankful for a moment that I did not decide to climb down from the stand and sit behind this one fallen stand. It would have been a better vantage point, but at one point a calf ran up to it and started bashing it with his head. If I had been down there, I would have gotten bonked pretty bad. 🙂

Just before it was totally dark, I heard a shot ring out… and squealing. Charles got something. I was hoping if there was a good sized sounder that they’d come running my way, but nothing. Went and picked Charles and his hog up. About 80#, which makes for good eating.

Cleaned the pig, relaxed with a couple cold ones, and hit the sack around midnight. Went back out around 5 AM but didn’t see much of anything. The most excitement I got was playing “will he bust me?” with a spike, and “what’s that rustling in the leaves? oh just an armadillo…”.

I didn’t “bring home the bacon”, tho Charles was kind and gave me half his pig. Thank you, my friend.

I did realize tho…. this was just what I needed. I was able to get my brain thinking about something else. Something other than computers, programming, iPhones, marketing, sales, business, teaching, whatever, anything and everything that makes up my usual go around. I got to think about the woods. I got to think about the wind. About movement patterns. Looking for signs. The hunt. Pursuit. The sounds of birds. The beauty of nature. It was just a wonderful break for my head to think about something else.

But now, I shall think about something else again: cooking. Specifically, throwing the pig in the smoker tomorrow. 🙂

Public Lease Land Program

I had no idea Texas Park and Wildlife had a public lease land program.

Maybe it’s not water-into-wine stuff, but each year thousands of adults and children benefit from a state program that turns $48 into a license to hunt on thousands of acres of otherwise private property.

As any hunter can tell you, $48 won’t get much in the way of a hunting lease. And, if you don’t have a lease or a friend with a big ranch, you aren’t doing much hunting.

To help hunters and would-be hunters with this, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department began leasing property to open to public dove hunting by a special $48 permit. The impact has been significant: 30,000 people per year take advantage of it.

I need to look into this because it’d be pretty cool. According to the article they’re looking to expand the program to include things like feral hogs or rabbits and squirrels. And according to this flyer, perhaps also deer, pronghorn, and exotics.

Looks like this is a map of available areas.

I do recall something about a drawing system, but the article makes it sound like these are two different programs. I guess I’ll have to call to ask.


No 300 BLK from Savage Arms

I just saw this posted to Savage Arms’ Facebook page

300 AAC Blackout Chambering Cancelled:

Some time ago, Savage announced it would be chambering the Model 10 Precision Carbine in 300 AAC Blackout. Since that time, we have tested many variants of this cartridge in various barrel lengths and rates of twist. This exhaustive testing left us quite unsatisfied with the accuracy we were able to get from the subsonic loads in this chambering. Accuracy with the lighter, faster loads in this caliber was actually quite good. But we believe the real value in this cartridge lies in the use of subsonic loads for suppressed rifles. Therefore we have decided to scrap the project.

It is our understanding that pushing these heavy, slow bullets presents challenges not found in typical loadings and that our experience is not unique. Subsequently, many in the industry have simply adopted a lower standard for accuracy for these subsonic loads. While this does seem reasonable and we don’t criticize any in our industry that have taken this approach, it just won’t work for Savage.

Our brand was built on accuracy and we are too protective of our reputation for building the most accurate factory rifles available. We would rather walk away from this opportunity than sell a product that requires an explanation.

Very interesting.

Now that it’s no longer prohibited in Texas to hunt game animals with suppressed firearms, that gave me more reason to consider buying a suppressor and a rifle to go with it. So naturally I was looking at 300 BLK. It’d be great if I could use subsonic ammo and a can and have a very quiet hunting experience. This is not only nice for deer hunting, but how about hunting hogs at night so you don’t bother sleeping neighbors?

But before any of this matters… what about terminal ballistics? Will it be effective enough?

Bill Wilson wrote this:

300BLK subsonic is useless on hogs, the only subsonic cartridge/load I have found to work is the Ruger 77/44 .44 Mag with a 300gr XTP

And I know that’s what Gerald and Randy at Night Hogs use (the Ruger). But then, more Google searching turns up people hunting with the 300 BLK and having success. So I don’t know. And of course, hogs and whitetail are different… a deer is tough, but not as tough as a hog, so maybe if it doesn’t work for hogs that’s fine if it can still work for deer or other thin-skinned game.

But gee… I’d really love to hear more specifics about what they were seeing for accuracy issues in the subsonic loads, because all that quiet doesn’t mean much if you can’t hit what you need to hit.

All I can say at this point is, this gives me pause.


It passed!

It looks like Texas Park and Wildlife has changed the hunting rules.

From the March 29, 2012 Commission Metting Agenda, Item 6, “2012-2013 Statewide Hunting Proclamation

Here’s the text:

§65.11. Lawful Means. It is unlawful to hunt any of the wildlife resources of this state except by the means authorized by this section and as provided in §65.19 of this title (relating to Hunting Deer with Dogs).

(1) Firearms.

(A)  It is lawful to hunt alligators, game animals, and game birds with any legal firearm, including muzzleloading firearms, and including a firearm equipped with a silencer [weapons], except as specifically restricted in this section.

(B)  Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to relieve any person of compliance with any other federal, state, or local laws governing the possession or use of firearm silencers.

(C)[(B)] Special muzzleloader –only deer seasons are restricted to muzzleloading firearms only.

(D)[(C)]It is unlawful to use rimfire ammunition to hunt alligator, deer, antelope, or desert bighorn sheep.

(E)[(D)]It is unlawful to hunt alligators, game animals, or game birds with a fully automatic firearm [or any firearm equipped with a silencer or sound-suppressing device].

So there you go.

Time to get your paperwork and tax stamps in order. 🙂

I know what I want for Christmas, but I guess I’d have to start my paperwork now. *grin*

And then there were 11

Those ducklings that hatched a few days ago?

We’re down by 3. Only 11 left.

This morning as I left the house to walk to the gym, I saw why.

There’s some sort of predator bird.

I crossed the street, and it flew out of the nearby tree right in front of me. It was too dark, too suddenly there then too suddenly gone to get a good look at it, but I could tell enough that it was a falcon or a hawk or something of that ilk. I looked a little further and saw Momma duck and her babies all huddled in a neighbor’s lawn, Mother’s head up high in sentinel mode ever watchful.

I know the kids are going to be on the watch for this, to identify the predator bird and see if it’s the same one from before. If so, I wonder where it nests.

At this rate, I’m not expecting any of the ducklings to survive. The bird knows an easy (and plentiful) food source is here. We noted being down by one a day ago, and now two more gone. At this rate, maybe a week or two before they’re all gone. Get your “baby duck squee” in while you can. 🙂

It’s OK. It’s life. It’s how things go. Yes I’d like some of them to survive to adulthood, but this is just how life goes. And frankly, we’re all more OK with this than other means of population control. We just don’t like how the HOA and USDA folks come in, trap the ducks, then “relocate” them. Maybe they really are relocating them, but since they never give me details and get evasive when pressed, my only conclusion is they are destroying the ducks. To me, that’s terrible. Yes I understand population management, but to just destroy the ducks is a cruel waste. They taste good, and we’ve got hungry people in this city. Why aren’t we feeding them?

I did manage to finally snap a picture:

Have you commented?

Finally received press release emails from the NRA and the TSRA regarding Texas Park and Wildlife’s proposed change to permit hunting game animals with suppressor-equiped firearms.

The NRA’s release.

TSRA basically forwarded the NRA’s release.

All of this is the same stuff I covered last week, including how to comment (via email, or snail mail). A copy of the email I sent is in my prior posting.

If you haven’t already, please take a few minutes and comment now on the proposed rule. TPWC will make the decision at the March 28-29 meeting, so the sooner you comment the better.

Thank you for supporting common sense gun regulations (to borrow a phrase). 🙂

Hunting with suppressors in Texas – update

Texas Park and Wildlife is considering changing the rule to allow hunting game animals with suppressors (silencers, in legal terms). Prior blogging about the proposal here.

The meeting was had, but I haven’t seen anything in particular yet about public comment — no grand announcement. But I went poking around and found this press release.

Regarding the proposed amendment allowing the use of silencers, the department has determined that there is no resource- or enforcement-related reason to prohibit the use of firearm silencers for the take of alligators, game animals or game birds, and therefore proposes to eliminate the current prohibition. The department notes that if the proposal is adopted, it will not relieve any person of the obligation to otherwise comply with any applicable state, federal, or local law governing the possession or use of firearm silencers.

Comments on the proposed rules may be submitted by phone or e-mail to Robert Macdonald (512) 389-4775; e-mail:, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744.  Comments may also be submitted through the department’s Internet web site and at upcoming public meetings to be scheduled around the state.

I haven’t found anything on the website, but you can email and express your support.

Keep it short and sweet, polite, professional.

A copy of my email:

Hello Mr. Macdonald.

Pursuant to the press release here:

I am writing to comment on the proposed amendment to allow the use of silencers in the taking of alligators, game animals, and game birds.

I am in favor of eliminating the current prohibition.

Sound suppressing devices are useful in the preservation of one’s hearing. As well, suppressors help to reduce recoil. Both of these are advantages to hunters. I think about my children going hunting, and I certainly wish to do all I can to make it a pleasant and life-long endeavor for them. All that can be done to allow them to shoot better — reduction of recoil, reducing loud noise to minimize flinch, preservation of hearing — all serve to provide a better hunting experience, now and throughout their lives. Furthermore, these are advantages that can already be enjoyed by Texas hunters when hunting feral hogs, exotics, or other non-game animals. When it comes down to it, what difference is there between shooting an axis deer with a suppressor and shooting a whitetail deer without one? There’s no logical reason game animals should be excepted.

As a professional firearms instructor, I’m well-aware of the factors involved in shooting: issues of safety, long-term health impacts, and simply how to shoot well. Silencers go a long way towards helping people have a better and healthier shooting experience.

I encourage the department to eliminate the prohibition on the use of silencers in the taking of alligators, game animals, and game birds.

Thank you.

John C. Daub
<my email address> <my blog address>
NRA Patron Life Member
TSRA Life Member
NRA Certified Instructor
TX CHL Certified Instructor

Suppressors for hunting? Yes, please!

Texas Park and Wildlife Department is considering a rule change regarding hunting, specifically with suppressors.

Here’s the text from the agenda:

         The proposed amendment to §65.11, concerning Lawful Means, would allow the use of firearm silencers to hunt alligators, game animals and game birds. Under current rule, the use of sound-suppressing devices to hunt alligators, game animals or game birds is unlawful. The department has determined that there is no resource- or enforcement-related reason to prohibit the use of firearm silencers for the take of alligators, game animals or game birds, and therefore proposes to eliminate the current prohibition. The department notes that if the proposed is adopted, it will not relieve any person of the obligation to otherwise comply with any applicable state, federal, or local law governing the possession or use of firearm silencers. The proposed amendment also alters §65.11(3) to include additional counties to the applicability of the provisions governing the use of crossbows. This change is necessary to ensure consistency with the changes to §65.42 discussed elsewhere in this preamble.

Yes please!

Why? Well, first consider their own wording: “The department has determined there is no resource- or enforcement-related reason to prohibit the use….”  So on the one hand, I like this because they see no sound reason to keep a rule around, so they’re going to discard it. This is how things should work! Simplification. Enhancing freedom. Enabling choice. Plus, it also frees up the department and those bound to enforce the rules from work that serves no gain, thus enabling them to focus on work that matters.

Here’s an article with more reasons for suppressors.

But to me, this hits closer to home.

On this last deer hunting trip, Daughter got her ears rung pretty bad. Yes I know, I should have had hearing protection on her — I do know better, but I often don’t while hunting so I can hear what’s going on around me. Plus, the muzzle is out the blind window and due to the structure of things it usually works out ok. But this past one? Not so much. I regret it and do feel awful for it. But this is the trade-off that we have to deal with: to hear the game, but then to not hear the gunshot. I do have electronic muffs, but while they work great for me on the range, I find in the woods, not so much. Different dynamic.

But if we could have suppressors? What a world of difference it would make!

I can legally own a suppressor here in Texas, but I can’t use it for deer or game hunting. I could use it to take exotic deer, I have gone on hog hunts with suppressed rifles. And so why if we can take those with it, why can’t we take game animals? What’s the difference? Apparently none, and it’s great to see TPWD recognizing that and moving on the item.

So what to do?

Well, right now we wait. TPWD will have their meeting on January 25, 2012. After that we’ll know more about how to proceed. It will be a matter of public comment, and you’ll want to be sure to add your comment in favor of suppressor use.

Making Memories

After Daughter snagged her first deer, my father-in-law (FIL) checked with the property owner of his deer lease to see if he could bring his grandkids out to do a youth hunt (spike and doe). Lease owner said yes. FIL told me. We worked out a date, and it was set and ready.

This was going to just be Oldest and Daughter; Youngest has finally expressed interest in hunting. We thought about taking him along, maybe he could sit in a stand with his “Pa-pa” and Brother and just watch and learn, but alas the stands are small and it’s hard enough to fit 2 people in. Youngest was cool with it tho as it gave him some “spoil me” time with Mom. 🙂

Packed up the gear and the kids and away we went. Met my FIL up there. Got to the property, took care of a few chores, then got dressed in warmer clothing to go sit in the stands. My FIL took Oldest, I sat with Daughter. I took my Wilson Combat AR-patterned rifle in 6.8 SPC with the Leupold VX-R 3-9×50, Wilson Combat’s 6.8 ammo using a 95 grain Barnes TTSX bullet. Oldest wanted to use the Savage .308 bolt-action, but I managed to talk him into shooting Pa-pa’s trusty .25-06 deer rifle. My FIL has hunted all his life and shot just about everything out there, and he considers .25-06 to be about the best thing for hunting out here given how flat it shoots. I trust his word, he’s far more experienced than I. Due to this, I thought it’d be good for Oldest to expand his horizons and try something else just to see how it compares, especially something that Dad doesn’t have. But there’s more to this angle of the story later….

You have to understand that Mills County is overrun with deer. After we did our chores and before we went to the stands, FIL and Oldest ran back into town for some supplies. Daughter and I stayed at the property and the property-owner’s daughter took us around the area in their Polaris Ranger Crew (DAMN that thing is fun, I want one, Santa!). Showed us a lot of the area, which was really neat. We saw so many deer running around. Just a ton of deer. Unreal. So yeah, a little herd management is in order.

Since there were so many deer and since we were just going for does, there really wasn’t much need to be picky. Just look for older does, ones without yearlings, and then the biggest one of the lot. No need to sit for hours and agonize, y’know?

We didn’t need to sit long at all.

Started out with 4 does coming in to feed. We glassed them and figured out which one was the taker. Alas, Daughter could never get a clear shot. Either the doe was in a wrong position, or there was a tree in the way.

As we waited, more came in. And more. Probably had a dozen deer poking around (I was told this was an abnormally low count; more typical to have 30+, and sometimes upwards of 50-60 or more at a time… yeah, that ridiculous; I’m sure if we had waited longer we would have seen more). Of them all, only 1 buck. Small one, I believe just a 6 pointer (if I remember correctly). Too small and young to take, legally or management wise. There was one doe that was simply gorgeous; the coloring of her fur, this very light tan with the white under her, impossible to describe to do it justice, but she stood out beautifully. Daughter asked if she could take her, but no, one that good needs to be left around to breed.

But the waiting is always the hardest part, especially when you’re a child and the weight of that rifle starts to wear on you. But we kept waiting and waiting… and eventually Daughter had a clear shot on a big old doe.

She took it.

I could see immediately that it was hit, shoulder area. It ran no more than 50 yards before coming to rest.

Interestingly, while the other deer ran off, they didn’t run far. I thought it was odd they didn’t all hit the tree line and vanish.

We waited.

“Come on Dad! Let’s go see her!”

“No. Let’s wait. There’s 30 minutes of legal light left… let’s just wait. You never know.”

You see, the land owner was kind enough to allow me to also take a doe. So as soon as we confirmed Daughter’s doe was down, no reason to not switch off and let me try. The doe wasn’t going to go anywhere, and again, 30 minutes? No problem to wait, right?

And so I waited… Daughter grew impatient. I understand completely. But something told me to wait.

*BOOM* we hear in the distance.

(look at Daughter) “Hey… that must have been your brother.” We had been wondering how things were going for them. I guess that answered that question. Looking back, I realize the sound of his gunshot was a lot louder than I would have expected from a .25-06. I later found out why. You see, in my FIL’s rush to get out of the house he grabbed the .25-06 ammo, but not the .25-06 rifle. So when they got to the stand they realized they had a problem! FIL called back to the farm house and the property owner’s daughter let Oldest shoot her rifle — she doesn’t let anyone shoot her rifle (I later saw it, gorgeous wood work, fine piece). The rifle is chambered in .240 Weatherby Magnum. So uh… yeah… it’s got a lot more oomph. Oldest thought it was pretty cool, and I think it gave him some perspective.

Meanwhile, back in our stand….

Eventually I gave in. There was maybe 10 minutes of legal time left, so why not.

We packed our stuff up. Daughter climbed down the ladder. I started to climb down. Got one foot out the door when I looked up and out the window.

(to myself) “Oh shit! They’re coming back!”

(down the ladder) “Daughter, they’re coming back! Don’t move!!”

“OK, Dad!”

Sure enough, the ones that did hit the trees were coming back. I’m sure it was the same group, or at least, that one little buck was the same little buck.

I quickly grabbed the rifle and went to re-load it. This is one of the down-sides to an AR-patterned rifle for hunting: loading it will be LOUD. But I had no choice. I inserted the magazine, pulled back the charging handle and let it slam home. But thankfully no one noticed! No deer flinched, tho I winced in anticipation.

But the ugly part? I was in a horrible position. I didn’t want to move. I had one leg out the door, which then got wedged between the bottom of the door frame and the bottom of the door (my shin is still aching and bruised). I was basically kneeling, bad position, the rifle wasn’t well rested. I wanted to move, but was afraid of making too much noise (I’m big, the stand was very small, it was just difficult to move around without making noise). So I just did my best.

I glassed around, picked one that looked good. Slow smooth trigger press….



Actually it was more like *CLICK*… it was a deafening silence.

First thought, dud? Do remedial action, and that told me the problem: I hadn’t seated the magazine all the way. Damnit. And I had previously told Daughter to always check the seating. *sigh*  Now I had to pull the charging handle again….. *cringe*…. and I did, it slammed home, and they heard it this time. Deer scattered, but not too far. Ugh.

My heart and head were racing. Time was ticking away. I really wanted to bag a deer as it would be sweet if all 3 of us got our deer in one evening.

I settled back down, the deer came back in. I tried to find a reasonable deer as quickly as I could. Found one, pressed off a shot… *BOOM* (good, it went boom not click).

And as soon as I saw the deer run, I doubt I had hit it. I watched as it made the treeline, no indication of faltering.


I did wonder if it could this be the rifle again having problems? Was it not the scope? I’m still wary with this setup, and I want to use it as much as possible to build back my confidence in the equipment platform. But in this case, I do figure it was my fault. I had a crappy shooting position and I was stubborn to not improve the position. Thinking back, I think I may have rested the barrel on the window ledge, not the rail tube. With the short length of the rifle, me being basically in the back of the stand, I recall when I first rested the rifle it “naturally” rested on the barrel, so I readjusted to rest the rail so the barrel floated. Well, when I had to reload I think in my haste I may have put it back down on the barrel, and that’s going to skew things. *sigh*  Stupid as well because I knew I’d have another chance in the morning, so why didn’t I just take the chance to get a better shot now? I was impatient, due to both excitement and being mad at myself for screwing up.

Oh well. I learned something, and will eventually stop kicking myself over it.

We went ahead and found Daughter’s doe. Notified my FIL. Eventually they came up on the Polaris with Oldest and his doe already in the back. We then headed to the barn, got the tractor (raise up the hay spear, hang the gambrel from it), and headed off to another part of the property to field dress the deer. I watched my FIL expertly clean the deer. I’ve cleaned things before, but still lack supreme confidence in my ability to dress things correctly and cleanly. So I took a lot of mental notes, knowing that when I got my deer I would clean her.

Deer cleaned. Hung up in the barn (it was going to be so cold that night). Off to bed we went, with 2 happy hunters… and a happy Grandfather.

The next morning I arose. I was going to get my deer.

Got suited up in my long-johns and gear, grabbed the 6.8, and my FIL drove me out to the stand. Opted to use the same stand as I did yesterday. Into the stand I went (solo) and FIL drove back to the house. Was out there about 6:40 AM, so I didn’t have to wait long for sunrise (legal shoot time started at 7:00).

Shortly after legal time, one small doe came out of the woods followed by a couple of others. The others ran up the hill out of sight, but the one came in to feed. I glassed her and knew she was too small and young to take, but I still studied her.

You see, everyone tells me I need to take neck shots. I see why they aren’t promoted to young hunters or inexperienced hunters, because a vitals shot is a more sure thing and a lot easier to hit. Neck shot, you have to get it just right. But if you do, you save a lot of meat and should get a “DRT” (Dead Right There) hit and not have to chase/track the deer, which is ideal. I’ve been studying the anatomy of things and I wanted to do my first neck shot on this deer. So while this little doe wasn’t going to be shot, I kept watching and studying her in my binoculars to be sure I felt comfortable with shot placement.

I kept seeing movement by the tree line. Other does were coming out, but none wanted to come in. No matter. More will come. Patience.

Eventually some did, but either not shootable or not in a shootable position. Then I see off to my right, some others come in. One stood out to me: a 4-point buck, limping pretty badly. His right hind leg was messed up somehow. His left side was facing me so I couldn’t tell exactly what was wrong, but it was a good limp. He was followed by a doe, which I figured was his girlfriend. The buck eventually laid down while the doe poked around at food. I glassed her. She looked good, a taker.

I waited for an opportunity. Yes, I was going to take the neck shot.

She gave it to me.


Obviously I didn’t need to wait. Signaled to my FIL that she was DRT. Packed up the bag. Headed down the ladder.

Walked about 90 yards to see her…. and then I realized… her was a him.

Yes, I had shot a spike. The antlers were barely peeking out of the fur on top of his head, but they were there. Who would have known at 90 yards? Impossible to have known. Size and coloration and everything looked like an older doe. But… wasn’t.

FIL later told me he was standing out in another field watching and saw the limping buck and the one I shot trotting over my way. FIL said that he had turned around to walk back to the house and hadn’t gone 10 steps when he heard me shoot and knew it was time to get in the Polaris to come get me. 🙂

We loaded him up, got the tractor, and under the expert tutelage of my FIL I field dressed the deer. I do feel more confident and, provided time isn’t critical, will certainly continue to dress and quarter my own in the future. The kiddos? They’re not quite ready for it. 🙂  Managed to save the heart and liver for the dog (she loves deer liver). I also was able to see that my neck shot was a little low, base of the neck, but still did the job of DRT. I learned from the experience.

Kiddos were done. They were ready to head home. I figure long weekends in the field will come later. I haven’t found the right words for hunting, but I have them for fishing. See, there’s “fishing” and then there’s “catching”. You can fish all day and never catch a thing and it’s a good day fishing. As a kid, as a first time fisherman, you want to catch; you don’t want to sit there and wait for hours and hours and never catch any fish. But the more you fish, the more you’re happy to sit and wait, to fish, to work, and again if you go home empty-handed after sitting all day on the water, that’s alright. For me, I’m transitioning from catching to fishing… well, hunting. I still want to take things home, I still get excited, I still want to “catch”. But I’m growing more and more content to sit, to wait. To see. The kiddos? Well, this was Oldest’s first deer and second kill; it was Daughter’s first whitetail and second kill. So they’re still squarely in the “catching” camp. And once we caught, they wanted to get back to the warmth and comfort of home. It just means we have to go hunting more often, that’s all. 🙂

In the end tho, it was a great time. I’m so happy that my FIL got to spend time with his grandkids. I know he’s been looking forward to hunting with them for a long time, and finally he was able to. He told me Oldest was so thrilled, so excited, and listening to my FIL recount the moments tells me that he’s got some pretty happy memories made by this hunting trip. To me, that’s what it was all about.

BTW, no pics because my phone camera doesn’t have a flash, but FIL’s did. So he took all the pictures. But he’s still out hunting for a few days and the reception out there is pretty bad. When he gets back home he’ll send me the pics he took.

I learned a lot on this trip, be it to double-check the seating on your magazine, to just risk improving your shooting position, that I really want a Polaris Ranger, improvement in my cleaning/field dressing skills, or to strive for the neck shot (DRT is good). I learned. It was enjoyable to spend time with my father-in-law and to learn from him. I liked being out with my kiddos, but again, I think the best part of this was enabling Grandpa and Grandkids to make some memories together. I know the Kiddos were happy for it and are looking forward to more opportunities in the future, as is Grandpa.