This year, I was lucky enough to tag a deer on opening day. It came as a bit of a surprise, given my lack of success the past few seasons.
I woke up about 8:30 a.m. Saturday. This wasn’t a great start to the season. I had set my alarm for 5 a.m. and an early morning adventure but overslept.
I considered my options, and decided to head for the woods after lunch. Rather than my treestand in a dense tract of softwood, I planned to hike to a pop-up blind we set on a recently cut meadow.
I know that deer often come into fields to feed before dusk. Plus, with a doe tag, I was prepared to take any deer that showed itself, as long as it was decent sized.
A short hike from the vehicle brought me to the blind. Equipped with a folding chair and a bipod-style gun rest, I settled into the blind to wait. I only opened the window facing the field to reduce the light in the blind.
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With more windows open, a deer can catch your silhouette in the window and be spooked. With stealth in mind, I went for a move any logical hunter might try: take out my phone and eat a little snack. What better way to stay occupied?
As the sun began to get closer to the horizon, the field was bathed in a golden light. It was really warm out, and everything seemed perfect. As if on cue, I was set on alert by the distinct sound of crunching leaves.
I wasn’t sure if it was a deer or a trophy-sized gray squirrel (they can sound like 200-pounders, you know), so I got my gun up to my shoulder and on the rest, just to be ready.
Speaking of my gun, it’s worth noting its interesting story. It’s a Remington 740 Woodsmaster manufactured in the late 1950s. It belonged to my mother’s father and was his reliable deer rifle for a lot of years.
I believe it also accompanied him on a successful moose hunt. It’s chambered in .308, and has been an awesome rifle for me. I added a scope rail and a Bushnell 3-9 x 40 scope for the extra confidence with long-range shots.
It was tough to tell what direction the deer was coming from. The canvas blind made the sound impossible to trace, and I wasn’t going to risk opening another window. I stayed focused on the area in front of me, with the hopes that the culprit would come around.
Sure enough, it did. About 100 yards away, a deer stepped into the edge of the clearing to the right. I slowly spun and got my crosshairs just behind the shoulder. I could clearly identify antlers and it appeared to be a decent-sized animal, so I pulled the trigger as he approached and turned broadside.
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In my excitement, I made calls to my brother, who was hunting nearby, and my father. My brother agreed to hike my way and I said I’d stay put. The deer had fallen a short distance off the edge of the field, and my brother stumbled upon it on his way to the blind.
After taking photos, we field dressed the buck — my first one. We used a Jet Sled to haul the six-pointer out to the truck and took a trip to the tagging station.
It was a really unique experience to shoot this deer with a little bit of family heritage involved. My grandfathers had coincidentally owned identical Remington 740s, and hunting with the vintage gun is special.