Thursday, November 27, 2014

Whitetail Doe Hunting...A Slam Dunk...Yeah, Right!

I've been hunting deer the past few afternoons. More to the point I've been trying to punch a whitetail doe tag before the season ends Sunday. In case you wondered,  this neck of woods, southwest Montana, whitetail deer are as common as black cows. Truth is most farmers and ranchers probably feed way more whitetails. Or as Terry put it that first afternoon and I had no reason to doubt otherwise, "this'll be a slam dunk,"

So as we staked out a chunk of ranch land bordered by the sort of brushy habitat whitetails love--stream-carved willow and cottonwood thickets the only questions we harbored were how far and who would score first--not that it mattered. I can't imagine a single less competitive hunting scenario than two good friends out to punch whitetail doe tags.

Now it is four hours later, between us we have seen just a single doe--out there maybe 400 yards and running full bore. I don't know about you but we have not intention of shooting running does, 400 yards or 40 yards...You know its meat we're after and to us means a single well-aimed shot or nothing.

Two days ago, I parked the truck, once again figuring " a slam dunk." A hundred yards or so into it, I spy a single deer slinking through high grass and thick brush. Alas, upon further review, turns out a buck. A really good buck, which upon even further review, sports five long tines atop a really heavy and wide frame--at least a 150 buck maybe bigger. Yes, I punched my buck tag weeks ago. No dice.

As the light falls and another day is about to end. Again I have not seen any deer other than the big buck. Then, just as I am about to call it good, a doe, and a handsome, mature doe, just the sort I've been looking, prances to the edge of field, well within range. Stops. Turns just so and...Just as I place the cross-hairs on the point of her shoulder (my favorite shot) and start to slo-o-owly squeeze the trigger. You guessed it...Bam! She takes off running, full tilt. The reason for her flight? Yep. Ol' Mr. Big who else? So off they go...And then here they come...And the chase goes on until...Now it is really dark and despite how entertaining, high time I call 'er good.

So I get up to leave, turn and...Come face to face with a dozen does and fawns staring me down, not 50 yards away...Imagine.

Next time out. Same time and place. Right out the gate I literally almost step on him...And that is the last deer I see until just before quitting time when...Here he comes again...Nose to ground, obviously hot on the trail. Absorbed as he is somehow fails to scent or see me sitting there against a big cottonwood.

Oblivious, he passes by no more than 20 yards away, disappears into the willows beyond. With legal shooting time closing fast, I get up and quietly walk the edge of the willow thicket to a narrow opening...And there he is...and so too is a whole passel does and fawns...And, of course, just like that the lead doe busts me...Oh well, game over, at least for now...Stay tuned.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

This Is Hunting?

Thomas D. Mangelsen photo

Witnesses say hunters in Grand Teton National Park drove a herd of elk from a no-hunt zone and toward an awaiting firing line Wednesday.

Wildlife photographer Tom Mangelsen — long an opponent of the park hunt — said hunter behavior Wednesday was as egregious as he’s seen.

By Mangelsen’s account, around 11 a.m. a person pushed a herd of about 100 elk out of an area off limits to hunters near Kelly. Once the herd was on the move, chaos ensued, he said.

“All the sudden somebody shot and they just opened fire on them,” Mangelsen said. “It’s really poor sportsmanship — it was illegal and it was just a display of totally barbaric hunting.”

The photographer estimated that 30 people were involved in the drive, that 25 shots were fired and that eight to 10 elk were killed.

Teton park officials did not corroborate many of the details described by Mangelsen and others, but said some hunters were ticketed Wednesday.

Two hunters shot and killed bull elk Tuesday in the park, where harvest is restricted to cows and calves. The elk were confiscated by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

One of those hunters was also cited for shooting at a running herd, she said.

Rules unique to the park hunt prohibit firing more than one shot at a group of running animals.

It’s legal for hunters to drive elk out of areas where hunting is prohibited in the park.

Mangelsen said some were firing from the road, which is illegal. Photos he provided show hunters with rifles and shooting sticks setting up on the roadside.

Jeff Soulliere, another local photographer, said the display left him speechless.
“It absolutely was a mess,” Soulliere said. “This is a national park, and you’ve got tourists on the road right next to hunters.

...courtesy Jackson Hole Daily