Saturday, March 17, 2012

Anterless Deer = Shed Buck

The landowner had a new place for me.  It is really nice that he is always looking out for deer whenever I am hunting his ground.  It might have something to do with the fact we are neighbors.

South of his house near the levee is a line of trees in a low lying area.  They are not really noticeable, but deer come out of the reserve to the west and move along the tree line to the next stand of timber to the east.  In the spring and early fall you can see them moving along in a line all strung out. 

The suggestion was to hide in a small equipment shed at the end of the road and wait.  He also told me to come in the evening about 4:30 PM and bring binoculars to look to the west and be prepared when they come out of the reserve.  They would have about a mile of open ground to cross.  The road running north and south was closed due to flood damage and to repairs being done on the levees.

There was a mixture of does and bucks in these herds of deer running across his ground.  Many of them had shed their antlers.  For identification purposes, a hunter should look at the back of the leg right where the gland is on the back leg.  Here the hair is a little longer and black.  If that is seen, and there are no antlers, he is a shed buck.  He is legal. My license states anterless deer only, and sometimes it is hard to tell them apart.

I pushed myself back into the shed next to some equipment.  I could see to the right and left if I stood up, but focused on the ground to the west.

As I faced straight west, eight deer came in from the east behind me.  They took their time, stopped and stared at me, then slowly moved on.  My gun was leaning on a post about three feet from me and I was not sure if they could see me in the shadows.  A really big buck with a nice rack just stood there and stomped his foot a couple of times, then moved off.  Several does that would have been really close shots, stopped, stared, then wandered off.

The wind was to the north, and I was amazed they did not wind me.  I had generously drenched my hunting clothes with a new product I had found from Bass Bro.
Wildlife Research Center Scent Killer Spray Combo - Hunting Accessories

Wildlife Research Center Scent Killer Spray Combo - Hunting Accessories
I had followed the directions on the bottle and sprayed my coat, gloves and boots.  They did not wind me and I could feel the breeze coming in from the north on the back of my neck. I was facing straight south.

Farther to the east, deer were seen coming out of the timber that ran north and south.  Still, I waited for traffic from the west.

The sun had moved just below the top of the trees.  Out they stepped from the timber.  Standing very still while watching them was the only thing I could do.  They moved slowly along the timber.  The concern was that they would not get to my spot before night fell. 

When they reached the halfway point, I sat down.  It was obvious they were on a straight line along the timber and hopefully would reach me before it was dark.  About ten feet from the front there was a barrel to my front and a manure spreader to my right. The gun was mounted up to my shoulder and sitting on some shooting sticks.  The only vision spot available was right  straight to my front. 

Then the first one appeared.  Darn, a buck, but he was really nice.  Then came two more with no antlers, but they had the long black hair on their gland at the back of the leg.  Now a really big anterless buck started to stroll past me.  On the opposite side there was another smaller deer.  It had to be a doe as it was smaller. 

The sun was down, and there was little time left.  The big buck stopped, looked straight at me.  The smaller one stepped forward, and there was the shot.  It was taken.   About four more steps and it fell over. 

Off went the herd, and I called the landowner as it was his request.  When I approached the deer, the head had two big spots where the antlers had been.  This deer was considerably bigger than what I wanted, but meat is meat.  I pulled my truck up to it, but lifting this big boy into the bed was not possible.  The landowner appeared, saw what was shot and said, "That is a really big boy."  He returned with a tractor and an end loader and said, "Let's dress him indoors up at the shop where it is warm and there is a lot of water." 

That was fine with me as by now darkness had set in, and I did not really want to field dress the deer in the dark.  Plus when the sun went down, it got cold.  It might have been 45 during the day, but it is Iowa in January.

I just purchased from Bass Pro a brand new knife for field dressing deer.  The blade would now get a baptism with this big boy.
Buck® Alpha Hunter Folding Knife - Drop Point - 8 oz - 3.5" Blade - Woode Handle - Cutlery
This is a great knife, and I highly recommend it.

The 2011-2012 season ended and as reported by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, hunters killed 4.5 percent fewer deer during the recent hunting seasons.  As reported to the DNR, 121,400 deer were harvested during the seasons.  It was estimated that Iowa's deer population has been reduced by about 30% from its peak in 2006.  The department will review the harvest and population surveys in the spring and propose to reduce the kill and stabilize deer where the numbers are at or below the goal.

The next morning my wife took the deer to get it processed, and the people at the meat shop came out and said "My that is a really big boy."  They see lots of deer so I know it was, as they put it a "really big boy."  That tells me how big the others were in the herd and how healthy the deer are along the bottoms. 

Next year, the plan is for a really nice small doe.

Good hunting, good fishing, Hank.

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