*The Deer Hunt*
By: Reddog
30 November 2003

Ok, true confession time here, so please take it easy on me!

I just got back from a camping/deer hunting trip today, but last night, I was hunting in a great area that I thought I knew very well.

This area is a natural funnel formed by a ridgeline with lots of good deer trails on it. have hunted it three or four different times before, including just the day before!

I even used some of those reflective tacks to "mark" the trail back to the main road back to camp, but I only used a few tacks spread out quite a bit.

Well last night, after dark, I got up and started back along the trail to the main road back to camp. Suddenly, I realized that I was not on the trail. Hmmm, no problem, I'll just back track and start over.

Well, I found my way back to the hunting spot and started over, looking harder for the trail, but again, I lost the trail.

Ok, no problem I think... I know that the road is only about 150 yards through these woods and it'd got to be in that direction. I started walking through thicker and thicker woods and brush and then found myself looking at a steep drop off.

Nope, that wasn't the right way! I head back through the thick woods and again find the hunting spot. I know, I'll whip out my trusty compass. Yep, I've got it, but I can't really say which direction is now the correct direction.

I choose what I feel is the most likely azmith and head out. Surprise, yet another steep drop off! I shoot a back azmith and get back where I was before (again!).

By now, it's about an hour and a half past when I should have been back in camp. I know my buddy, the guy that owns this lease is there, so I decided that it was time to swallow my pride and do the ol' shoot three shots into the air thing.

I fire three shots and wait. Nothing! I wait about 15 minutes and fire three more shots. Again, nothing.

I'm not panicing, but I am feeling pretty stupid for getting turned around like this. I'm thinking about what I can do with what I've got.

I've got my back pack and inside is a space blanket, water, one flashlight, a food bar and a heavy jacket with gloves and a stocking hat. About now, I'm considering starting a fire and building a debris hut and spending the night out there and finding my way out the next day.

Then I think, no... I shouldn't have to do that. I start thinking hard about which direction camp has to be in. I remembered that many times while walking back to camp along the road, that the setting sun was just barely still lighting the dark sky ahead of us as we walked along, back to camp.

That means that camp must be west of here and the road must be north of my current position. I set my compass and start walking north. It should only be 200 yards or less, but I walked nearly 500 yards along this heading.

Finally, I saw some short scrub oaks that I recoginized. There is only one area on this lease where the scrubs are this short and thick. I know this will be hard, but I've got to punch through.

I do and sure enough, I find the road, but I'm at the very far end of the lease. I walk along the road, yep... almost due west, and eventually do get back to camp. It's now 2030 hours and I started trying to find my way out of the woods around 1830!

When I get back to camp, my buddy asks me how many deer I killed. I asked him if he didn't hear my warning shots, and he said he did, but thought I was shooting lots of deer after dark. ERRRRRRRR! I'm sure glad that I hadn't gotten hurt and then needed him.

So, I learned some things the hard way:

1: Never think you know the area as well as you think you do. Always check your compass and KNOW which direction is in and which is out.

2: Never head out without letting someone know where you will be and make sure that they know that if you don't show up when you were supposed to, that something might be wrong.

3: Never assume that firing three shots in the air will do anything. I did this over 5 different times and my "buddy" still thought I was hunting, even though it's now almost three hours after legal shooting times!

4: I need a GPS. This would have never happened if I had one with me and used it to plot my trails and hunting spots.

5: Never give up. If you know it has to be there, it is. I could have just stayed in the woods all night and done just fine. I was prepared for that, but a nice hot meal and a comfy bunk beats a debris hut and I stuck with it. I did know that the entire lease has a fence around it, so if I had hit the fence, I would have known that wasn't the right way.

6: When I do decide to set a light tack trail, check it! If I had placed a few more tacks and also checked that they were visible from both directions, I would have not gotten lost in the first place.

Ok, that is my true confession boys and girls. Go ahead, poke fun at me, I deserve it, but please go a little easy on me.

Let the fun begin!

Oh yeah, I did not get a deer either, but I did see quite a few. They were all does and not legal to shoot at the time. If this were a TSHTF situation, I would have had them deer and I'm not so sure they weren't some of them German deer! ;)

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