Grant Wooldridge Recaps His Recent Deer Hunting Trip.
Grant's account of his recent deer hunting trip with his family really puts the reader right into the action!
"First off, I always enjoy hunting Mule Deer, even if I don’t bag one. Just being out in the country walking through the rolling hills of sage and bitter brush or through the aspen or pine trees just refreshes me. It’s extra special when family is along. Dad and I have enjoyed that outdoor experience for decades. Now, more recently, our hunting has included my uncle and two cousins which has been great. Topping it all off, my wife Angie and daughters, Avey and Anna, share in the celebration after the shooting’s done.
This was my 17th year hunting mule deer and up until this year I was 8 deer for 16 years of hunting. I feel blessed about my success as I know many hunters who struggle to get one buck. (A big thanks here to Vence who taught me tons about hunting, firearms, shooting and reloading) The last deer I shot was in 2011 with my 10 year old cousin along side of me for his first walk along. That was a great experience and this year he went along for the first time as a shooter after passing the hunter safery course with flying colors. Good job Aaron!
Opening morning which fell on Saturday, October 12 this year was a little chilly before first light but weather was really moderate. The days have been as warm as high 60’s and at night it barely got to freezing. I would prefer a lower temperatures and a touch of winter weather to bring more of the migratory big bucks down out of the hills but no such luck for the last many years. We have had some pretty warm seasons lately.
Anyhow, my expectations were not great because of this but I knew there were deer out there to find so off we went. My father and I did a bunch of hiking and glassing up on some partially wooded state land but truly saw nothing at all for hours. We headed to another area which was more filled with sage and bitter brush and many ups and downs of small to large ravines.
I started to see some does around and saw a spike and a second two pointer. This was getting a little more encouraging though no big daddy bucks yet. I was preparing to head down into some deeper ravines but wanted to do another 360 degree sweep with the glasses around me before I headed out of the area. I scanned slowly, looking for back lines of the deer, ears or horns. I just finished sweeping the landscape, with a final glance up on the hill behind me, where I had come from earlier, when just at the last I saw him.
It looked like a legal deer up on a hill above me in the brush. He was 375 yards away (rangfinder, binoculars) and it did not look as if he saw me. I had a decent section of gully between us. I could just move toward him another 10 feet and then have cover to get out-of- sight and move to the next ridge for a closer shot.
The plan worked. I slowly crept forward and he stayed put, I was then out of site. I swiftly but quietly moved to the next ridge between us and crawled up to the point I could see him again. I laid on the ground and brought my crosshairs down on him. He was 265 yard away now. My gun is zeroed for 300 yards and I felt pretty good about the ballistics of this shot. I waited what must have been a minute or two for him to move his head enough for me to verify the third point which made him a shooter.
There’s always that moment of indecision. Do I wait for a bigger buck, when pickin’s seemed thin, or take this buck and put the tasty venison in the freezer. Decision made, when the buck turned broadside, there it was, I put the crosshairs behind the shoulder, exhaled and squeezed……. He jumped straight up then moved forward into the brush out of sight. I felt good about the shot.
I walked up the hill and in short order found the buck, not 25 feet from where I had shot him, dead as a doornail. The bullet hit the mark behind the shoulder and took out his main artery and a lung.
My father had been watching the whole thing unfold from up above on a higher hill. He was glassing from above then saw this deer. He could not tell if it was legal from his perspective but begin to look around to see where I was at. He could see me way below him lying on the ground then as he panned back to the deer he saw it jump then he heard the shot.
After tagging the buck, the first thing I did was call my friend Vence to tell him the good news. He was excited for me as I showed him the buck while we talked on face time. Then, my hunting partners joined in the success and work. Finally, I got to share the story with my girls and show them the buck. They’re so supportive and happy for my love of the outdoors and hunting….love you Angie, Avey and Anna.
Anyhow, what a good feeling to get my deer on opening day. Wow do I feel blessed. I am especially excited for the meat this year as earlier this year my freezer at home failed and I had lost some cherished wild game and fish which was a super bummer. We’re stocked up again, now.
And, about that decision to shoot this buck. No regrets, but after I filled the tag I did spot a big four pointer…we’ll just figure he’ll be even bigger next season."
Thanks for reading.
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Added on 11/25/2013by Wooldridge Boats
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