Opening Day 2014

     It was a nice change from the past few years to have some cold weather for opening day. It was nice to know that I wouldn’t have to make a trip to town to buy ice, should I get a deer, but it wasn’t so cold that sitting on stand was unpleasant. Lots of shooting around sunrise and over the next hour or so, but I wasn’t one of them. I saw one deer from stand and that one was around 200 yards away, running, in a meadow I don’t have permission to hunt.
     I climbed down at 9, a bit discourage by the lack of deer, and commenced to still hunt. The snow squeaked under foot and the duff layer under that was still crispy, certainly not ideal conditions. But after a time a deer crossed in front of me, around 75 yards away. I didn’t dare try a shot with the brush in the way at that range, not with the open sights on my 45-70. I tracked up a hill but eventually had to break off on account of it wandered into a broad, dense expanse of wild raspberry and other assorted prickly plants. I hooked around the brush and got in position on it’s far side, in a stand of oak trees that had seen heavy deer activity. I sat down on the ground, under a large tree and checked my watch. It was 10:15. After a modest five minutes I saw movement that had a lively look about it. A few moments later I saw it again and there was no doubt it was a critter. A short time later an antlerless deer stepped out. I slid the safety off and waited for a broadside shot. After several tense moments I had my opportunity, a mere 30 yards away. I tucked the bead behind it’s shoulder and touched off. It ran a short distance and bedded down only 15 yards from me. I thought this odd at first, but given that I was shooting an old-fashioned, 405 grain cast-lead bullet, it made sense. Even though I knew I made a good shot, those heavy, slow-moving slugs don’t result in the spectacular wounds of modern, high-velocity bullets.

It’s no monster, but it’s my first deer with my 45-70. Open sights and cast-lead bullets add an old-fashioned challenge to deer hunting.

      I cycled the action and proceeded to shift around as I gathered up what little gear I had brought, thinking my deer had only moments left, if it wasn’t dead already. I was surprised to see it stand up, and start hobbling away. A second shot dropped it for good. As it turns out, I had hit high with my first shot, damaging only the top of each lung. Those heavy, blunt-nosed bullets really do have a pronounced rainbow trajectory. My point of impact was about 2 inches high a fifty yards and apparently even higher at 30. I thought I had shot myself a small doe. When I went to dress it out, I discovered it was in fact a button buck. Had I known this sooner, I probably wouldn’t have shot it, but I was happy to get it just the same. 
     After getting my kill on the gambrel and grabbing a quick lunch I headed back out, this time toting my trusty 30-06. I wasn’t sure what stand I would end up on and was considering one that covered corn and alfalfa fields. It seemed wise to carry something that had some range. As it turned out, I didn’t need the extra reach. Just before 3pm a pair of deer walked past my stand, coming within 10 yards. They headed into the corn field where, at 30 yards the larger of the pair presented a quartering away shot. She dropped immediately from a single 180 grain SST. 
     So that’s the report. I didn’t bother to hunt Sunday since I had my hands full with deer to skin, quarter and bone out before headed back to Vermont. I still have tags left in both New York and Vermont and hope my luck holds out a bit longer. 

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