Sunday, January 12, 2014

An Exciting Morning in Hunting Season

*WARNING.  If you are not a hunter or do not enjoy hunting stories, please skip this post*

This morning started off easy and lazy.  We were just moving around, making a late breakfast, with the doors and windows open.  It was a beautiful morning.  That’s hunter “code” for “not seeing any deer” and we certainly were not seeing any deer inside the camp.  Out the window, we saw Cory coming back to the camp from his morning hunt.  Considering Cory usually stays out all day during this time of the season, Jeff immediately knew he got his deer.  We anxiously awaited his story.

Cory had been watching this atypical buck for weeks.  This guy had points everywhere and a big body, but his antlers were short, stubby and strangely shaped.  Cory is an excellent and diligent hunter.  His patience paid off this morning when he finally got a shot on this guy.  However, he was not confident in his shot . . . it only took a little investigation to see it was not a good shot, which is uncharacteristic of Cory.  All-day hunts do make for a tired hunter by the end of the weekend.  He was disappointed in his shot, but he knew to leave the area and let the deer bed down.

We ate breakfast and got the play-by-play of his hunt.  We were all excited to track the deer.  After the deer had about two and a half hours to be still, we suited up.  Roux (our tracking Lacy dog) started jumping around wildly when I picked up his GPS collar.  Off we went!

I am always excited to take Roux for a tracking adventure.  Today, our friend, Clifford, was in the area and stopped by for coffee.  Clifford breeds Lacy dogs and, secretly, I was really excited to show him that Roux is an awesome tracking dog.  Jeff’s grandmother used to say that all crows think their babies are the blackest . . . and even that is probably an understatement when it comes to how I feel about Roux.

At the spot of the shot, before I could give the command to track the deer, Roux picked up the scent and took off.  Just for good measure, I yelled “Find It!” in the direction of Roux’s tail.  Hey, I had to act official . . . we had spectators.

From my handheld GPS monitor, I could see that Roux was about 100 yards into the woods.  He has a different bark when he has an animal bayed and that is the bark we heard.  We knew the deer was still alive and we stopped moving forward.  Roux had him bayed (the GPS showed he wasn’t moving), so we started moving in again.  The deer wasn’t willing to challenge Roux, but Jeff and Cory got to within 10 yards and the scent of humans was too much . . . the deer bolted before Jeff could get there with his gun.  Oops.

It is interesting to stand in the woods, surrounded by palmettos as tall as you are, listening to your dog chase a deer.  The buck was crashing through the palmettos making lots of noise.  We can’t see a thing, but you learn so much from the sounds.  The deer ran through the waters of the slough and over a ridge.  Along the way, he slowed down from his injuries.  Roux was with him the entire time.  Then silence.

We were about 150 yards from Roux.  By the time we got there, the deer was down in the water of the bayou and Roux was with him.  The water was deep (for Roux), so he would swim to the deer but turn around to the shore when he couldn’t bite or pull on him while swimming.  Cory got there first, just in time to see the current start carrying the buck down the bayou.  When I arrived seconds later, I saw Cory emptying his pockets and taking off his shirt.  Before I knew it, Cory was in the water . . . in January!  He made more noise than Roux when that water hit his chest, but he made it to the deer and pulled him to the shore on the opposite side.  

Talk about dedication!  I was in awe of Cory.  Roux wanted to be there, but I kept him on our side of the bayou.

Cory was wet and cold, but smiling big. 

Here is the atypical buck.  He weighed 226 pounds.  An excellent cull buck.   

A great Agriana adventure and a truly beautiful morning.