Deer Camp enlightening, entertaining and successful

Dennis Clay with the antlers of the 3-by-3-point mule deer he harvested Sunday, Oct. 14. Rudy Lopez photo
By: 
Dennis L. Clay
Columnist

This is a multi-part series about the 2018 deer camp.
The temperature inside The Hut was 48 degrees. The time was 6 a.m. The largest burner on the Coleman Guide Series propane stove was ignited and water in the large container began to warm. 
This coffee-pot style container was designed to make percolator coffee, but The Hut Crew has taken out the guts and only use this to heat water. Coffee is made by using a coffee bag, much the same as a tea is steeped in hot water to make tea. 
The Crew doesn’t eat breakfast at this time, but they may down a banana or put an apple in their pocket. Then they are out the door in search of a buck. 
The hunt area outside The Hut is roughly a section in size, one square mile. A hunter can make walking this entire section an all-day hunt. 
Instead, each individual usually takes an area, perhaps the northeastern corner, and hunts for two or three hours. This includes walking, stopping to glass an area or sitting on a hillside to ambush a passing deer.
Sometimes we venture outside our home hunting space to BLM or state land. This is mainly an exploring mission to find out where the deer are located during a particular year. 
Rudy Lopez and I arrived Friday evening, the night before the opening of the modern-firearm deer season. Rudy made some white-bean chili the evening before he arrived, so we wouldn’t need to cook after traveling. It was delicious.
The next morning Rudy was dropped off half way through the section. The wind was hitting the 20-to-30 mph mark making it a cool walk. He realized it would be difficult to hit a deer, even at 100-yards, but he wanted to get out and hunt. He returned three hours later ready to warm up.
The wind kept me in camp and working on the computer. We assembled a sandwich for lunch and then hit the bunks for a nap. The wind was blowing too hard to hunt.
We ventured out for a drive in the later afternoon, as the wind was slowing down. Saw a few does and one 2-by-2 buck, which is not legal during this season. A legal buck must have at least three points on one side in our hunt area. 
Using a GPS, we were able to detect private property, BLM and State land. We explored a bit, taking roads we haven’t seen before. A few rooster and hen pheasants, along with low flying geese were spotted.
At one point a buck was spotted in a small clearing. Those critters will remain stationary for many minutes. The deer was looking at us, so the number of points were impossible to determine. 
There comes a point when a hunter must make a move. Rudy was out of the Ram and across the fence when I drove ahead 100 yards. The buck bolted when Rudy was within 30 yards of his position. Two does were a part of his herd, but we didn’t know they were with him until they were pushed. He was a 2-point on both sides.
Dr. Thomas Steffens joined us the next morning. We check our home area for bucks, but couldn’t find one, not even a doe, but I wanted to stay in the area. The others didn’t. We had some deep discussion at this point, taking time away from the hours left to hunt. 
Finally, I gave in and we left to search some other spots outside our home hunting area. 
Sometimes fate happens, it just happens. The three of us were driving and arguing about where to hunt next when we noticed two does in land to the right of a county road. We did not have permission to hunt this land.
Wheat stubble occupied the land to the left, where we did have permission to hunt. We were a couple of hundred yards down the road when a large, 3-by-3-point buck walked over the hill headed for the does. 
The Ram picked-up speed a bit and the deer kept coming, we pulled to a stop and I loaded one round and stepped off the road, aimed and fired. He dropped, kicked a couple of times and was still.
The other two were reminded about fate, being at the right place at the right time, but they were having nothing to do with it. 
Think about it; if we were five minutes earlier or five minutes later, the deer would have either been in a spot we couldn’t hunt or over the hill out of site. 
Yes, sometimes fate, destiny or just plain luck is in your favor. 
Next week: More about 2018 deer camp.

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