Snow was gathering in the high country and just starting to head down to the valleys when this deer hunt started. The rest of the family was snug in the cabin when Noah, my fifthth born son and my daughter Snowbird, sixth born, the oldest of my two daughters, and I set out that day. It was a beautiful blue sky day. One of those fall days that if you sat still it was a little cold, but hiking and climbing as we were, with our light jackets we were comfortable. This was supposed to be Noahs’ hunt. He had his bow perfectly tuned and his broadheads sharp. We knew of a meadow just below treeline where the bucks gathered and waited for the rut. In one way it was only about a three mile hike, the problem was it was a good climb all the way. When at last we reached the meadow and looked around we realized we were a little late, no sign any where. There was old sign, it was obvious they were there, and the rubs showed a few were good sized, but they had already started making their way down.
We decided to go to plan B. A couple of days before we had built a blind beside a lake on an extremely good deer trail. We had planned to let it sit at least a week after we built it to let the forest cover our scent. After such a climb and not even seeing a deer we decided to try the blind. We had plenty of daylight to reach the blind before an evening hunt. For the trip down, instead of quietly fighting our way through the forest, which at present was coverd with a couple of feet of snow. We headed for the river and followed it down. Traveling the shore of the river our walking was loud, but travel was quick and easier than walking through the snow.
By the time we reached our stand by the lake we had walked out of the snow and the forest was again green around us. Tucking into the blind it was hard to imagine just a mile and a half away there was two feet of snow. As most of our hunts, we were hunting on Native lands thanks to our friends in the Klawock Tribal Council, making our hopes extremely high for a good buck. The blind we had made was simple, but effecient. We picked an area where the natural land itself funneled the deer to a spot about fifty or sixty feet wide. On one side a steep hill, on the other side a high mountain lake. The pass, if you will, was only about sixty feet long. Right in the middle of all this, two large trees sitting about ten feet apart right beside the shore. We simply stacked some small fallen trees between them, hung a tarp across them then covered it all in brush.
We were all three tired from our half-day hike up and back down the mountain. So we settled in quickly behind the blind and did the one thing that is always constant in the outdoors to be successful in seeing game, we quietly waited. Our position could have been greatly improved, without raising it was hard to see the entrance to this pass. We would have been much better off in a tree stand, but the forest around us averaged a hundred and fifty feet high, with diameters of eight to ten feet. These are Sitka Spruce, Hemlock and Ceder. In a forest that has never heard a chainsaw. The first limbs sticking out are about forty feet in the air, a nightmare to try and build a tree stand in.
As some days go, we waited until we were cold, hungry, stiff and just plain ready to go home. Noah had asked for a few more minutes, so many times and still nothing that even he was ready to call it a day. When we saw the patches of brown, through the openings in the bushes at the head of our little pass.
At first glance it looked like two, maybe three. As they came closer to the very edge of the brush, before it opened in front of us, we could tell a young doe was walking in front of a larger doe and a buck was in the rear, but they didn’t come through. I could see the older doe as she put her nose in the air and leaned towards our direction. Her ears were straight forward, her posture as she leaned was still relaxed so I knew we still had a chance. Then, for whatever reason, she slowly moved her ears back and started to lower her head. Her posture went from relaxed to ridgid. She wasn’t going to come in, she wasn’t in the flight mode, but she wasn’t going to walk into that clearing.
I could still see a broad side on the buck, but I couldn’t see his head.He was just too far away for a bow shot, and he was behind so much brush I knew an arrow would never make its mark. So behind the blind I whispered and told Noah what I saw. I could see the disappointment in his eyes when he told me to let Snowbird have it with the rifle. Two seasons before Noah had turned strictly to the bow and wouldn’t use a rifle. As Snowbird slowly chambered her rifle and peaked over the blind, Noah and I both knew what the outcome was going to be.
With her 30.06, from the shoulder, without a rest, her accuracy is unmatched. I was looking over her shoulder as she readied for the shot. From my view, for a few seconds there wasn’t a good shot. The brush was so thick that there was only one small opening where a portion of the top of his left leg was open. He then took a small step moving the leg and for a split second I saw the shot. Snowbird saw it too and fired. We found him not five feet from where he was standing. He wasn’t a trophy size buck, but he would feed our family for quite a while.
That night as we were charcoling backstraps, I was thinking back at what a great day I had just had, but it wasn’t the hunt I was thinking about, it was the great day I got to spend with a couple of my kids. Of course, the backstrap was good too.
If you are interested in our forests and want to know more about the Sitka Spruce, Hemlock, Ceder trees and the other trees and foliage that cover our land, check back with our website from time to time.