Successful Deer Hunter
Deer Hunting. A northern Michigan tradition. Many years of history, stories, and hunting adventures passed down in the generations of family hunters. Another year of tradition within my family has passed, and it has been a very memorable one. This year, the weather was warm through opening day and a few days though the hunt. I talked to several folks with mixed reports of deer movement activity; some reporting lots of movement, and other reports of little or no movement. Whichever your experience or theory, plenty of deer were harvested this season in Michigan. Winter came in quickly by Saturday, and I’m sure that held up some of the movement for the next couple of days after that.
I started my hunt this year two days late. That’s not unusual for me, I was unable to make it a four-day hunting excursion away from work and falconry responsibilities. So as I arrived on Wednesday eventing to a temperature of 58° F, there was nothing on the buck pole. Not surprising, given the warm temps. The two deer that had been taken at deer camp so far were hung, gutted, and processed as quickly as possible to save the meat. My first evening was filled with laughter and stories with family and friends, as we packaged up some of the bounty harvested the day before. Always a good time.
I awoke abruptly out in the camper to the sound of a started pick-up truck. It seems that my alarm did not go off as expected. No worries, I had plenty of time to get a cup of coffee, pack up my lunch, and head out to my blind. The preparations this year were very easy, as I had planned everything to make it especially easy. I suited up halfway and drove out to the *NEW* Death Valley deer blind that had been restored the previous month.
The morning started like every other one: dark. The exception to this morning was the left-over “SuperMoon” was waning and still brightened up the landscape a little. The beauty of sitting out in a deer blind so early in the morning is the solitude that you get when you finally get your gear settled. The silence of the woods early in the morning is incredibly peaceful and it’s one of the few times where you can hear the trees whisper. As the morning progressed, a few deer crossed my viewing area across the meadow. Typically, a doe, followed by her yearling were the usual visitors through the valley. Occasionally, there was a spike-buck following the pair, or a larger 4-pointer. The key to watching deer cross the valley is to be keen to the bucks trailing the does a few minutes later, after they pass. Always be ready for them, for they are walking with a purpose. So with a total of 10 deer spotted before lunch time, I was satisfied with the activity and movement in the area, and still hopeful to be successful on my first day. The lunch period was slow, and there was no activity until about 2:30 pm. A pair of does ran up the valley from behind the blind and veered off to the right. I was ready for the buck following them, but he never appeared. I waited intensely with my gun to the ready, holding out for the buck that should have been pursuing them. After a little while, I heard some rustling off to my right. The river runs through the area, about 150 yards off to the right of the blind, and I noticed a deer browsing. It wasn’t until he lifted his head up that I could see the 8 points above his ears. I lined up the shot, and waited until he showed me his shoulder, and I pulled the trigger.
I gave him enough time to lie still, dragged him about 30 yards or so out of the woods and drove back to deer camp with an 8-point buck on the trailer. What a great day of deer hunting! The next day, a couple of us drove into town for some provisions at the local market. We stopped by the DNR office the next day, even got my successful deer hunter patch!