Patience and preparedness!

How many times do we need to relearn patience and preparedness? November 8th, 2015, the rut was in full swing. Dr. Sophie Gilbert (Assistant Professor, Department of Fish & Wildlife Sciences, University of Idaho) and Dr. Casey Brown (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wildlife Research Biologist) came to Prince of Wales Island to experience a November rut hunt. It was Casey’s first big game hunt. On Sunday morning we were about ¾ miles off the road at the edge of a great muskeg opening/bedding area. It was overcast but cool with a light breeze. We had been calling since dawn working our way deeper into great country. We had called one doe out a cross a frosty muskeg. Rubs were everywhere. At about 10:45 am I began a rattling/grunting call sequence. Maybe about 10 minutes into it, out walked a great 2 x 2 at about 65 yards across the muskeg. He turned sideways circling to the right in and out of the bull pine at the edge of the clearing. Sophie and I hoped that Casey would get her first deer. She sat poised and ready to my left, rifle up, waiting. We did not know that her shot was obscured. Watching the buck as I continued to call out of his site, I could tell he had just about had enough. Finally, he cleared all brush, I suggested that someone needed to shoot and Sophie put the hammer down. He never moved. Hugs and high-5’s all around. We crossed the muskeg, paying respect, thanking the blacktail Gods, and taking photos. We had been there about 15 minutes still admiring Sophie’s buck when I heard a noise 20 yards behind me; a grunt then a limb snap and I caught movement. Out walked a great 5 x 5, he turned broadside staring at me. Steam rose from his body. I was 15 feet from my Hawken, 15 yards from the buck. Neither young lady had their rifle at hand. The buck whirled running straight away. I made it to my Hawken as he was zigging and zagging in and out of the bull pine and cedar at the muskeg edge. He turned to disappear into the forest at about 60 yards. I jumped to the left as he stopped, his head obscured, only his vitals showing between two pines. I focused on the sweet spot and snapped off the shot. When the smoke cleared, he was gone. We all looked at each other in awe of what had just happened. After reloading and feeling like an idiot for being caught unprepared, we went to where he had been standing. There were hairs on the moss where he had stood. A bit of hair where the round ball went in and a clump of hair and bits of lung where it came out. He was dead somewhere, the roundball had found its mark. We tracked bits of blood a ways then lost the sign. We circled to the left down a well-used deer trail. We had not gone more than 30 yards when the morning breeze was filled with the strong odor of a rutting buck. We followed the breeze to where he lay. He had not gone 40 yards. I am convinced he was still coming to the calling though we were cackling like school children over Sophie’s buck. I have learned many times that it is 25 to 45 minutes after you quit rattling that a buck will appear. How many times do we need to learn patience? God, I love these deer.