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2018 Homestead Deer Hunting

After getting home, I had lunch, read the newspaper, and took my dog to get the mail down at the road.  It wasn't too long and my nephew and his wife got back to the house.  After we swapped information, it became obvious that the morning really had been a bust.  My sister got a buck and a doe but I didn't know that at this time.  She lives a half mile down the road. 

As 2:30 PM rolled around, I got ready for the afternoon assault on our deer population.  As I mentioned earlier, I wanted a buck for the freezer.  The only problem with that is that I'd seen absolutely no bucks on the game cameras.  My nephew's property had no less than 5 bucks regularly visiting the food plot we'd planted in late summer.  I'd seen all of them while trying to fill my archery tag.  Some time back, my wife told me that we must have had the nursery on our property.  Plenty of does with fawns, and a couple with twins.....yep, the nursery for sure.   I headed out to my stand.

After about a dozen chapters in my e-book and 45 minutes before sunset, out from the pine grove came a fawn.  My bet is that Mom and the twins bedded down in that secluded little spot for the day.  Sure enough, it wasn't long before the doe came out onto the field and 10 minutes after her appearance, the 2nd fawn ambled out of the woods.  They slowly started to graze their way across the field. 

It wasn't long and my eye was drawn to the far end of the field.  I grabbed the 8x monocular and verified it was a deer at the far tree line.  That meant 400 yards, far enough that I couldn't tell for sure if it had a rack or not.  Since this wasn't one of the three from this morning, I was keeping my fingers crossed.  I grabbed my rifle and turned the optic to 16x.  Sure enough, it had horns.  It was facing me and I had difficulty getting a good view since it had its head down to eat.  I watched for several more minute until it raised it's head.....hey....a young 6 pointer.  It teased me for a couple more minutes and then walked into the tree line, gone from view. 

As I turned my attention back to the doe and her fawns, movement came from a low spot in the field in the vicinity of one of the fawns.  Another deer had wandered out onto the field and when it raised its head, I immediately saw antlers.....an 8 pointer.  A quick scan with my range finder showed 176 yards.  I estimated the buck to be 30 yards from the edge of the field.  He was past the far end of the pine grove.  To his back was some popular trees and then a slough followed by a lot of cow pasture scattered with small stands of spruce and oak trees. 

It was right at sunset and while I could see the reticle just fine, I had some concern that a bad shot would result in a late night walk through the property looking for a wounded deer.  As I mulled this over in my mind, I did another quick check with the rangefinder....still at 176 yards.  Wait a second!  I'd not seen antlers all summer long and now, in the span of 5 minutes, I'd seen two bucks.  What was I thinking?  I came out here to get a buck!  He was standing almost broadside to me.  I held the crosshair about one and a half inches high, paused my breathing at the bottom of my exhale, and gently pressed the trigger.  I called the shot a good hit, right where I thought it should be.  As with the other deer I've shot with my Grendel, he turned and did a fast walk towards the fence line and out of my view.  The doe and one of the fawns bolted out into the middle of the field and then stood there for the next five minutes while I put my gear into my backpack and proceed to climb down out of my blind.  I walked down to where the buck was standing and surveyed that part of the field I couldn't see.  He wasn't on the field.  That meant he went over the fence towards the slough or stayed on this side of the fence and headed into the pine grove.  It was past sunset and it was getting darker.  I headed home to get Donna.  An extra set of eyeballs is what I needed now. 


Stu and 8 point buck

Donna and I walked the fence line towards the spot where the buck might have likely crossed.  It was now dark and our flashlights danced off the leaves and brush along our path.  Donna yells "I've got blood".  Sure enough, she did....and plenty of it.  Bright red....spots the size of nickels and quarters tracking in a fairly straight line.  The buck had jumped the fence and was heading through the poplar towards the slough.  We followed the blood across the deep layer of leaves.  It was consistent and easy to follow.  "There it is!", she yells.  It lay dead some 60' from the fence.  From where it was shot, the buck went approximately 50 yards total.  As I dressed it, I saw that the 120 gr Nosler shredded both lungs and luckily left the heart alone.  Last year, the top portion of the heart on one deer disappeared after the Ballistic Tip ran into it.  Donna was happy to see the heart come out in one piece. 


buck in the front end loader

I left Donna to watch the buck while I headed home to grab the tractor.  We use the front end loader to transport the deer and it works well.  Being senior citizens, tossing deer around isn't our idea of fun but dragging it into the loader is a piece of cake.  Our pit-bull pup just turned a year old last month and this was his first dead animal bigger than a field mouse.  He was very cautious at first but it didn't take too long before he accepted it.  Here he is getting his first sniff of it.  Before we went to bed, he had "adopted" that buck and was making sure everything was good.  I had to let him outside twice after we closed up the garage just so he could make sure everything was OK.  He ran around and checked every door and then waited for me to open the side door so he could go inside and sniff the buck. 

buck hanging in the garage

I grabbed the come-along and proceeded to raise the buck into position for skinning.  Our first deer, after we moved to the homestead, was raised using the winch on our side-by-side.  It wasn't the best idea since the side-by-side had to be parked outside and that meant the door was open and the garage stayed cold.  The come-along is a much better solution and it is really easy to use.

Donna skinning the buck

Donna, being a bit more cold blooded than I, donned her bib overalls and down vest and started skinning the deer.  She enjoys this part of our fall hunting season.  We worked until about 9:30 with the glow of an electric heater keeping us comfortable in the garage.  Over the next couple of days, Donna cut, trimmed, and wrapped the meat.  We haven't ground the hamburger or made our breakfast sausage yet, but that will come later this month or in December.  Plenty of time during the long Minnesota winter days to tend to those things.




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