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Gail's First Buck 2010

Gail's First Buck 2010This year Gail and her son Trevor took the last week of October for vacation, so they could hunt Oregon’s General Western rifle season together. I did some research for areas that have good deer numbers and got some very helpful info from an ODFW biologist. The enthusiasm the biologist had for this area had my hopes high for Gail and Trevor.

For the first morning, the plan was simple. Find a clearcut and start glassing. We found a six or so year old cut just after daylight that was shaped like a half bowl. The ridge road made about a half mile semi circle and had several fingers running off of it down into a main drainage. We dropped down the finger that was about the center of the half bowl and started glassing. I glassed up a deer almost immediately at about 400 yards, but the fog made it hard to tell what it was. Trevor and I closed the distance to about 175 yards. After about 20 minutes, the fog cleared, the deer finally lifted its head and moved into a spot where we could tell it was a doe. We watched the doe hoping there might be a buck with her. She had a yearling but no buck in tow, so we called it a morning.

Trevor was sighted in with my .270, but we needed to get Gail sighted in with the .270 and Trevor sighted in with my 7mm, so we found a slash pile, set up at a hundred yards and dialed in both guns for Gail and Trevor. Both are good shots, so it wasn’t long before we had them dialed in with bulls eyes at a hundred yards and brought it up another inch.

There was a nice four or five year old cut right where Gail and Trevor were practicing, so we made a plan that Trevor would hunt the cut where we glassed up the doe and yearling and Gail and I would hunt the cut where they were sighting in the guns.

That evening we dropped Trevor off and continued to the cut Gail and I would sit. We worked our way down a finger about 150 yards off of the ridge road where we could glass the bottom flat. There was 15 year old reprod that met our cut to the left, a new cut to the right, another cut the same age as the one we were in directly across from us with timber on both sides of it, and a creek in the bottom. This was perfect habitat.

The fog started drifting in and out which made glassing a bit more difficult. We had not been glassing long before I picked up a deer and then another deer at about 200 yards. When the one deer lifted its head, I could see antlers. Using stumps and logs as reference points, I explained to Gail where the buck was. It took a minute, but she steadied herself on a big stump, found the buck in her scope, and squeezed off a shot. After the shot, Gail lost sight of the buck, but I was able to watch him run through the cut in the bottom for about 40 yards before he disappeared behind the finger to our left.

I figured he went into the reprod or didn’t make it out of the cut at all. Gail was excited but at the same time nervous, and she wanted to get down there and see if we could find her buck. Being a bow hunter, I like to give animals time when there is a question as too the shot. However, there was drizzle coming down, and I didn’t want to chance losing the blood trail, so we started down to the buck.

It took us about 30 minutes to work our way down to the buck. We had to drop into a valley to our left and climb up on the next finger over, because I wanted to have a vantage point, so we could glass and try to find buck lying in the bottom. Gail was wearing Cabela’s water proof boots that are men’s size 9 when she has a women’s size 7 foot, so the vines and brush made for slow moving. She wanted to stay warm and dry, so she had on ski pants and her son Robert’s rain coat. It was a mitch matched set of hunting gear, but it worked out just fine for her.

We made it to the top of the next finger where we could glass the bottom, but we didn’t see the buck anywhere. We worked our way down to the bottom where I had made a couple of mental land marks. There was an obvious trail going through the brush and scotch broom near a large log where I had last seen the buck. I told Gail to scan the ground looking for blood as I worked down the trail that I thought the buck ran from. I found a spot of blood then more blood.

It didn’t look like great blood, but we had a blood trail to follow, so we did. The blood trail led to the reprod. In order to stay on the blood trail, I had Gail stand at last blood while I trailed ahead. There was a trail leading into the reprod that I followed for about five yards, but I couldn’t see any tracks or blood. Then I heard Gail say, “There is some blood over here.” I went over to where she was, and it was obvious that the buck had made a right turn and stayed in the cut.

The blood trail got heavier for about 20 yards and then just stopped. The nice thing was that the ground was soft from the rain, and we could follow the bucks tracks. I had Gail stand at last blood while I tracked the buck into a patch of scotch broom. I made it about ten yards from where I left Gail on blood when I saw the buck’s head sticking up out of the brush looking right at me at a mere 10 yards. I told Gail, “Get over here now!” Because the buck was bedded in a brushy area, Gail had to get to an angle she could shoot through a small opening where the buck’s shoulder was exposed.

On impact, the buck jumped up, and I told Gail to jack another shell and get ready for another shot. We started after the buck, but he only made it another 25 yards before going down again. Gail had broken the front leg on the second shot and hit the heart.

With the buck on the ground, Gail was ecstatic. We took pictures and celebrated. Gail was absolutely tickled with her first buck. I haven’t seen her that excited in a long time. Upon inspection, Gail’s first shot looked absolutely perfect behind the shoulder. I couldn’t believe the buck was still alive when we found him. Because it was getting dark and the buck was in the bottom of a steep drainage, we decided to leave him there over night and return with packs in the morning.

This was a very fun hunt for all of us, and we plan to do it again next year.

- Paul Askew, 2010