Well, it was coming down to the wire with only a few days left in the rifle deer season. The pre-rut was heating up by the day and I was seeing new sign daily. I only saw three other legal bucks in the last few weeks, all within 40 yards, but they were just too small (two “sporkys” and one small forky). I just don’t have the heart to pull the trigger on these young deer. But that seemed to be the theme for this entire fall season. I passed on eight different bears---all within 30 yards (three were within 15 feet) but all were sub-adults under 120 pounds. During the archery elk season I passed on four animals (a cow and three spikes) all within 25 yards. I guess I’m just getting more sentimental as I age. Besides, they sure are fun to watch undisturbed.
Anyway back to the deer story.
This morning a heavy fog and gusty winds made for ideal blacktail hunting conditions. Before daylight I was hiking towards a meadow nearly a mile up from a main road, hoping to reach it before dawn. A quarter-mile into the trail I bumped an oncoming deer 10 yards in front of me. It blew off the trail and I was unable to tell in the dark if it was a buck or doe. From the way it ran and huffed at me, I felt it was a buck. I was a little dejected because bucks in my neck of the woods are hard to come by, but I continued towards my goal of watching the meadow for cruising bucks.
I found a site to set-up just inside the timber and downwind of a major game trail. I placed a few drops of doe-in-heat urine around my stand and waited. No more than ten minutes had passed, when the 3-point buck came up on my back trail, veered off towards the meadow, and was walking straight away from me at about 60 yards. I threw up the glasses and confirmed it was a buck I wanted to take. I had vegetation blocking my shooting lane so I had to quietly move laterally about five yards. I went to a kneeling position and grunted at the buck so he would turn for a quarter or broadside shot. He must have read the script because he did just that, and my .45-70 took out the top of his heart. He bounded for about five steps and toppled over.
He was a beautiful buck and I thanked him for his life.
My OPW Rogue pack (w/meat shelf) made easy work of the first mile pack-out to my vehicle, but the best was yet to come. I had the presence of mind to load my mountain bike with OPW Panniers (BCDP) in the back of my pickup that morning. After unloading my first haul of meat at the truck, I pushed the bike up the steep trail to within a quarter mile of the kill site (blow downs and dead-fall kept me from making it all the way). In two more short trips using my OPW Rogue pack, I hauled the rest of the meat, head and gear to my bike.
I transferred the meat and head to my OPW Panniers. I then re- positioned my gear in the OPW Rogue, and reattached my OPW Scabbard w/rifle to my pack; using all my spare compression straps. Now came the easy part, which was a sheer pleasure. I coasted, non-stop, 3/4 miles down the steep bumpy trail all the way to my pickup without turning a pedal and without any of my gear shifting in the slightest way. I wish all meat packing jobs were this easy---thanks OPW.
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