Yesterday I went to Elberton, GA on about 400 acres of private land in my in-laws family for my first hunt, during the post-rut. The winds were about 6mph out of the east, slightly overcast, about 39 in the morning, 50 in the afternoon. I went with my bro-in-law and we took up positions under a powerline, his firing lane aimed away from me on the other side of a hill, my firing lane aimed opposite direction on the other slope, basically back-to-back. I was using a Kimber 334M Classic .308 Winchester (bolt action). We got there before dawn, about 5am and I settled into a blind chair, my shooting sticks setup.
I tried my hardest not to shift about, and glassed the valley looking for deer. The first thing I heard as the early morning light rose was a big turkey goobling up a storm as he came down from his roost, followed by the chirping of some hens. Of course, it could have been a hunter, but as it lasted only a few minutes and didn’t repeat, I’m fairly certain it was a turkey. I learned later that turkeys had been seen in that area before too. A good excuse to visit the area again with a shotgun.
After a about 3 hours, I was a bit perplexed, no does, no bucks. The previous day we had a storm and so we both believed there’d be deer up and about, hungry after having to bed down all day. I could hear dozens of shots from every direction at varying distances, half a mile, many miles away. Clearly the early morning hunting was going well for others, but I kept wondering if I was being nosed out by the deer. I did my best to reduce my scent, but hey, a deer has about 100x better smell than humans. After a break for lunch we were back in the blind around 2pm and stayed til dark. Still no deer. My hunting partner did spot a doe, but due to a misfire, couldn’t harvest it. About an hour before dusk, there was a big crash in the woods a few hundred yards to the right of my blind. Several crows flew up out of the woods and I could hear yapping, coyotes! Figures, we’d seen tracks and scat. Perhaps there presence had put the deer off on my side of the hill? After a while, all was quiet again.
All in all, it was a day meant to reinforce one of the key rules of hunting, patience. I was lucky to have great weather and at dusk, with no deer, we set out to do a little target practice. I still have a minor flinch, but with the trigger pressure set to 2lbs on the Kimber, I was able to squeeze and not be aware when the shot would fire, and so my aim improved. The modified Winchester had a kick, but the recoil was very manageable.
Though I didn’t harvest a deer, and frankly I gave myself a 20% chance being a new hunter, I had a fantastic time out and was lucky to be able to hunt before the season ended. I’m looking forward to getting on the range in 2012, improving my skill with a rifle, taking some additional courses for my next hunt.