It looked like my last chance to harvest a blacktail this year. The weather had cooled the last couple days and it was looking like a window of opportunity. With a positive feeling about my chances, I took off this afternoon and headed to the hills ready to shoot the first decent buck I could find. With a couple other deer tags in my posession, I decided that my coastal A Zone tag would be dedicated to bringing home venison – not necessarily a trophy.
Stopping at an unlikely spot to check for deer, I stepped from my truck and glassed the opposite side of a draw that seldom holds deer.
Under a buckeye tree on the opposite side of the draw lay a doe. I glassed to see what else was there and I was surprized to find nothing – no other does or fawns. This seemed a little strange so I went back to the truck and loaded my rifle. Something told me that a buck must be near. With the rut due to kick in, a solo doe was a sign.
After moving to the shade of a nearby oak, I sat and watched for other deer. Eventually a deer shape did appear, at the base of a large oak about 30 yards from the doe. It looked like a buck. After watching him for a while, I concluded that he was a decent sized buck, but his exact size was clouded by branches hanging between him and I.
I was in venison mode. I’d already decided to shoot the first decent buck and not hunt for a trophy. After concluding that he met minimum standards for the hunt, I began to prepare for a shot. I ranged the tree and he was at 140 yards – a fairly easy range for my 7 x 57. I elected to take the shot sitting. At this range I should be accurate. I got a little excited, but not enough to ruin my aim.
A spot of sunlight hit the buck’s vital area and I took advantage of the opportunity. The shot appeared to be true and the buck jumped, but never left the shade of the tree. Unable to confirm he was down, I waited for about 15 minutes before driving to the next ridge. As I approached, I could see him laying there only ten feet from the bed he had been using. The shot had penetrated his vitals.
I made fairly short work of field dressing him and was back in town before dark. On the way home I crossed paths with a tule elk bull – a bonus. He stood long enough for me to take several photos.