November 26, 2018
This year I selected a new hunting spot (N41 37.77260 W078 22.46913) located just ¼ mile west of the Indian Run logging road south of Norwich and 1 mile short of the food plots at the top of the mountain where the road splits off to the left toward Havens Run. Joe and I left the cabin at 5:08AM and at 5:20AM, he dropped me off at the trailhead. Heading west, I followed an established snow covered path for about ¼ mile and hiked in toward what is now named Forbidden Hollow. A light drizzle of rain was falling. A few days earlier, I placed reflective cat-eye thumb tacks on trees to help mark the path during my short walk in the dark. The weather was forecasted to be steady rain from 4AM until noon with 12 mph winds blowing from the SSE. There was about 6 to 12 inches of snow covering the ground.
I got to my spot at 5:30AM. The hunting spot that I picked three days earlier was a set of three hemlocks growing out of one trunk. It was located just below and in front of a 20 foot bluff that spanned the width of a 350 yard clear-cut area. I set up my 57” tree umbrella and was sitting in my “Millennium Treestands M300” tree seat near ground level. My view in front was directly west and 160 yards across the clear-cut area to the Forbidden Creek that was 32 feet lower in elevation. The clear-cut was created in the Fall of 2015 and was still littered with fallen trees as well as sparkly populated tree saplings that were just under 6 feet high and a few standing evergreens. On the other side of the creek was a wooded slope up to a ridge. On the other side of the ridge and over ½ mile away were others from the camp including Matt, Mark, Joe and Fred. From my spot I could see about 250 to 275 yards to the west and had about a 160 degree view from left to right. It was still dark and the rain became heavier. Just after I got settled in my spot I could hear what sounded like a strong wind vortex traveling from my left down the hollow and knocking trees over as it traveled. It was like an invisible freight train was passing by.
I heard the first shot of the day from miles away at 6:53AM. At about 7:30AM I heard someone coughing about 100 yards behind my right shoulder and on the top edge of the bluff to the northeast. I am pretty sure he saw me and I heard him using his radio to call someone. The rains got heavier and the hunter was gone by 8:40AM. I am sure he was soaking wet since he was sitting out in the open on a tree stump.
At about 8:45AM I briefly saw a deer about 260 yards away running along the opposing mountainside from left to right. It disappeared behind a stand of hemlocks. I did not see the deer come out the right side of the hemlocks. I couldn’t tell if it was a doe or a buck.
At the 9AM radio check-in, I communicated with Mark about my sighting. It was a heavy steady rain now that lasted over an hour.
At about 10:15AM I leaned to the right in my seat and I could see a doe lying in the snow across the creek on the opposing mountain side and facing me at about 250 yards. She was hidden in my normal sitting position by some trees. I watched her off and on for about 30 minutes and by 10:55AM she was gone.
The rain slowed down to a steady drizzle. I scanned the other mountain side for about 10 minutes until I spotted 2 deer to the right of the stand of hemlocks and just above where the doe was lying. It took about another 5 minutes until I could see that one of the deer was a buck. They were about 270 yards away and were very slowly making their way to the right and slightly down slope. The doe seemed to follow the buck while staying 10 to 20 yards behind. I never had a clear shot at the buck because most of his body was constantly was behind trees as he moved. After another 10 minutes the buck was in clear sight at about 225 yards and was facing me down-hill with his head down while scraping the snow away with his front hoof while foraging for food. I turned up my Leopold Vari-X II 3-9x scope to 9 power. I took aim with my elbow resting on my thigh for additional support, but could not keep the sight steady enough to make a good shot at that distance while sitting in my tree chair. Despite that, it was not a good shot to take since I still did not have a clear view of his vitals. The buck kept slowly moving in and out of view. I got off my seat and moved behind the tree and knelt down on the ground while placing my gun on the seat back rail and against the tree. This was much steadier position for a shot. The buck kept slowly moving to my right and continued to appear in and out of view behind trees. At times I could only see his hind quarters. At other times I could only see his head. It was now about 11:45AM and I followed him with my scope for another 8 minutes as he went in and out of view. I have been watching this buck for over 45 minutes and he only traveled 90 yards with no good opportunities for me to take a shot. The buck was only 15 yards away from disappearing into the thicker forest to the right.
At 11:53AM he took another step into the open and was more broad side with an exposed shoulder area. I never shot my rifle on the range at more than 100 yards. At over 200 yards I thought I would have to shoot high. I aimed at the very top and behind his shoulder blade in anticipation that the bullet may drop a bit at that distance. I pulled off a shot. The recoil of the gun caused me to lose sight of the buck through the scope. I could see the doe about 20 yards to the left of where the buck was standing and she was looking in his direction. I continued scanning the area for 5 minutes and did not see him. Did I hit him? Was he on the ground? Then surprisingly, I saw him standing with his head and shoulder in full view between the trees. I must have missed high on my previous shot. He was standing at a quarter stance toward me and was looking to my right. I decided to shoot high again at about an inch below the top of his withers. I took and held a breath and pulled off a second shot. Again with the blast of the gun I lost sight of him in the scope. After about 10 seconds I heard the doe snort as she darted back up the mountain side and to the left. It was 11:59AM.
The next radio check-in was at noon. I told Mark that I had taken the two shots that he heard but I was unsure that I hit him.
I placed another two 30-06 rounds into my rifle’s magazine and gathered my rolled-up plastic deer sled, pen, knife and dressing gloves. Using my GPS I projected a waypoint in the direction of my shot at 250 yards. This would hopefully get me close to the spot. I started the walk at 12:15PM and needed to cross the clear cut that was scattered with many logs, 3-foot of new growth and areas of snow drift. I crossed the creek and started up the other mountain side and looked to my right and saw the 8-point buck lying motionless under a hemlock (N41 37.81088 W078 22.59198). He had dropped in place. His tall 8-points were evenly formed and were colored from a very dark brown (almost black) at the base and brow tines to a light cream color at the tip of the points. The actual shot distance was verified to be 201 yards with a 31-foot elevation drop. The 150 grain, Remington CORE-LOKT bullet hit the deer exactly where I was aiming and entered at the very top of his shoulder at the withers and traveled directly along his spine for about 18 inches before exiting. This made him drop instantly. There appeared to be no drop in the bullet at 200 yards and I was lucky to drop this buck with the shot that I took.
I meditated for a few moments and was thankful for a clean and quick kill. I then took a few photos and short video and then dressed the deer. I secured him onto the plastic sled and began the journey back toward my shooting spot where my other equipment was still located. He was soaking wet from the rain and dressed out at about 160 pounds. On the journey back, I was on my hands and knees pulling him across the Forbidden Creek and up that slope, and up two other steep areas. There were many fallen trees that I had to traverse in the clear-cut area and I finally got him near my shooting spot on a logging trail at about 2:45PM. I shuttled my gun and gear about 40 yards a head and would return to drag the deer to that point and beyond another 40 yards. The snow made it easier to pull, but it was still an effort dragging him to the road where I was dropped off earlier in the morning. I got to the road at about 3:55PM and waited about an hour for Joe to bring the truck and help load the deer on the hitch rack.
Although my high shot hitting the spine resulted in a clean kill with no loss of meat, it was not where I was expecting the bullet to enter. I learned that at 200 yards my bullet will hit the target where I am aiming. I plan on taking my gun to longer target distances to see how it performs.