I Like Hunting in the Rain
By Steve Godfrey
Oct. 25, 2010
Photo by Steve Godfrey
Deer season for rifle started last weekend and I hunted my cousin’s place up north of Spokane hard both Saturday and Sunday but failed to see a legal buck. I did see 3 spikes and a nice 2-point, but nothing legal (3-point minimum for mule deer, any whitetail buck up there is legal).
Yesterday was the final day of the rifle deer season. It’s only open 9 days, with weekends on both ends.
I got up at 3:00 Saturday morning (Oct. 23rd) and drove the 3½ hours back to my cousin’s place, arriving there at 7:00, just as it was getting light enough to shoot. It was raining and foggy – good hunting weather – unlike the previous weekend that was bluebird weather - sunny and warm.
I first hiked up one of my favorite canyons a short distance but saw no deer. I’ve seen lots of deer up there in the past, but that morning there was nothing. So I hiked back north across the side of the mountain on a deer trail, and headed to another favorite spot.
It was still raining and the brush and grass were soaked. By now my boots were soaking wet and I had to wipe off the lenses of my scope every now and then with a dry napkin I had in my pocket to keep it clear enough to be able to shoot something if I had the chance to - one of the drawbacks of hunting with a scope in cold wet weather.
I soon ran into a group of mule deer and watched them from my spot in the brush. They were within 75 yards of me and were curious about what I was. Several big does walked closer towards me to investigate. I stood motionless as they stared, on full alert mode, and ready to bolt at the slightest movement. I counted 21 deer in that group, all does and young fawns. After about five minutes of their close scrutiny, they decided they didn’t particularly like what they saw, and several of them snorted and away they trotted.
I continued on the deer trail contouring across the side of the steep mountain and soon came upon a spike buck silhouetted on the skyline about 100 yards in front of me. I checked him out with my binoculars and determined he was a mule deer. He hadn’t seen me yet, so I watched him.
Soon another spike joined him from the back side of the ridge he was on, then another, then another. Four spike mule deer bucks together in a group. Very cool, but none of them legal deer I could shoot. They meandered up the hill relatively unconcerned as I slowly progressed below them.
I continued on through the fog and light rain. As I was slowly moving and making very little noise because of the wet ground, I noticed some movement above me. I spotted a deer looking at me about 100 yards uphill, and quickly got my binoculars on him.
He was standing broadside and looked like a ghost in the fog. Even in the light fog, I quickly determined that he was a buck, and a whitetail - a legal deer! Since he was in a lane where he could take one step and be out of sight, I had to move fast. I brought up my .270, flipped off my safety, aimed, and shot. He dropped.
The smell of gunpowder filled my nostrils. I ejected the spent cartridge and drove a fresh one into the chamber. No need.
I hiked up to where he was and was very pleasantly surprised to see how nice of a rack he had – five good points on the left and four on the right. Not a big rack by national whitetail hunting standards, but a very pretty one. Honestly, with merely one day of rifle hunting season left at that time, I would have shot him if he were a spike; I was hunting for meat.
After a few photos, I field dressed him in the rain. Not an easy task on the steep rocky and slippery slope. Then it was a ¼ mile drag down the hill to the dirt road – relatively easy considering the rocks, grass, and brush were wet.
I hiked back to the house, got my truck, drove back to the buck, loaded him, and headed in for a quick shower. I left a note for my cousin who spent the day in Spokane, and hit the road home at 12:30 p.m., eating lunch on the way.
It was a great trip and great hunt!
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